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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Notes: Sturdivant Tears ACL

As if the news on offense wasn't bad enough after Saturday's 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State, things got worse Sunday when an MRI revealed that left tackle Trinton Sturdivant tore his ACL in his left knee -- the same injury that kept him off the field for the entirety of the 2008 season.

"Mentally would be the only thing that could keep him from making a full recovery," head coach Mark Richt said. "If he rehabs the same way he did a year ago, he'll be able to play again next year. It's just one piece of ligament that can be repaired, can be replaced, and then you just start over again. Psychologically it's tough, but physically I've had guys that had the injury a second time around and it went great the rest of their career. So it's just going to be Trinton's state of mind, but we know he's going to battle and he has goals in his life, and he's going to come back again."

Richt said Sturdivant was surprised by the injury but has kept his spirits up since learning the news.

"He really didn't feel like that was the situation after the ballgame, and we weren't predicting that," Richt said. "He seemed kind of more philosophical. He's just like, 'Well, I've got two choices. I can either give up or I can go fight again.' He knows and we know that he's going to fight and that he'll be back."

That leaves Georgia short a left tackle for the remainder of the season, and Richt said the current solution will be to use senior Vince Vance at the position, but that more options could open up down the road.

"It won't be long before Josh Davis will be able to play again also," Richt said. "He can play either tackle. All three of those kids (including Clint Boling) can play tackle, and Cordy (Glenn) can play tackle but would be more of a right tackle. So we still have some options there."

The offensive line was expected to be a strong point for Georgia this season, but Sturdivant's injury clearly puts a damper on the lofty expectations. More concerning was the lack of dominant play by the line during Saturday's loss -- and Richt said the struggles came in both the passing game and the running game.

"It was hot and cold," Richt said of the line's play. "It wasn't flawless by any means. The sack that caused the fumble was a protection issue. Most of the time we protected well, but that time in particular it wasn't very good."

On the run blocking, Richt said the scheme was strong, but the execution was lacking.

"Their safeties tackled well, they closed space quickly, and there was a couple times when we just didn't finish blocks," Richt said. "Schematically we were creating good space, but if we'd have stuck on our blocks a little bit better, we might have broken some big runs."


-- With Sturdivant out, Richt said there is clearly a concern about how Georgia's line will hold up against South Carolina's stout defense, led by linebacker Eric Norwood and defensive lineman Cliff Matthews.

"It's going to definitely create an issue for us," Richt said. "Hopefully we won't be in a bunch of third-and-longs where we absolutely have to live and die by the drop-back pass. Hopefully we can pass when we want to."

-- Regarding Joe Cox's performance -- 15-of-30 for 162 yards, 1 TD and 2 turnovers -- Richt said it wasn't as bad as it might have seemed, and he wasn't sure how much Cox's struggles could be pinned on his ailing health.

"I really don't know how he's feeling to be quite honest," Richt said. "He wasn't going to miss that game. Oklahoma State did some things that were good. I think Joe will be sharper as we go. Overall I think he played a pretty decent ballgame. It wasn't anything to sit there and say it was spectacular by any means, but it was solid."

-- Still, Georgia's passing game was far from impressive, and the burden of responsibility can be shifted in any number of directions.

"In the pass game, I would just say we weren't sharp at all," Richt said. "There were some times when we looked good, but for the most part, we just weren't consistent in our effort in the passing game."

Richt said improvements need to be made in all areas, including receivers hanging on to the football, better route running and quicker decisions from Cox.

"I would say the route running certainly needs to improve, and that's for the tight ends also," Richt said. "We've just got to get our timing squared away. We made some throws where we went to the right guy, but not as quick as we should. But we're not far off there either, but I thought we were closer to being in sync in the running game that we are in the passing game."

-- One receiver who managed to impress, Richt said, was redshirt freshman Tavarres King. Although King had just one catch for four yards, Richt said he saw an increased level of aggression from King that earned kudos from the coaches.

"I think Tavarres King has earned himself some more playing time," Richt said. "He really got after it as a blocker and made one catch across the middle where he had to really extend that took some bravery. We gained more confidence in Tavarres' ability to play more downs and get more opportunities."

-- Branden Smith got four touches on offense, and Richt said the decision to include the freshman cornerback in the game plan was a no-brainer.

"One was speed and agility and a confidence about him that we wanted to tap into," Richt said. "We knew he was going to play some defense, so it wasn't like we were worried about whether he was going to redshirt or not."

-- A missing ingredient from Saturday's performance was clearly tailback Caleb King, and Richt said he's hopeful that the sophomore will return to action quickly.

"I would love it," Richt said. "He's a guy that we need to get healthy and get in there and compete and play. We need him."

Richt said that he hasn't spoken with trainer Ron Courson about King's progress following a pulled hamstring, but I've spoken with multiple sources who said there's a strong possibility King won't be able to return until at least Week 3.


Bernie said...

Sad, sad news for #77. Glad his spirits are up.

DH - did Richt hint at any reason why we didn't see more of Gray or any snaps at all for Wooten or Brown?

Jan said...

Well, I had been able to stay positive about perhaps being a nuisance team on peoples' schedules, but now that Trinton's gone, I think we're almost a 7-5 team. Starting next week, we'll be on a three-game regular-season losing streak.

Ben Rockwell said...

"Scheme was good, but execution was lacking." Where have we heard that before? Also, I'd like someone to start pressing him on the Jon Fabris issue. Why was Fabris allowed to disagree with him publicly, and why does our kick coverage and return still seem to be so terrible?

chillydawg said...

Gosh I hate that for Sturdivant,but someone must step up. One man does not necessary mean more losses. It's time to circle the wagons, open up the offense and play with reckless abandonment.Play to win CMR and not to lose.

Anonymous said...

A continuation of the Wooten/Brown question....any comments from Richt regarding our inability to get AJ Green the ball? Our most dangerous playmaker....and we can't even give the guy a chance to make a play (2-3 catches).

Anonymous said...

I hate to sound like Mr. Gloom and Doom; but it seems like lately UGA has slipped from a top tier program to a team that other programs use to make a name for themselves.


Alabama '08
Georgia Tech '08
Oklahoma State '09

We are in for a rough year.

PS: Thanks to all the media, bloggers, and the UGA coaching staff for feeding the DAWG Nation this line of crap for 9 months about the "leadership" and "teamwork" that was supposed to make this group of guys special. We're on to you now.

Joe Cox was nothing more than a "feel good" human interest story. He more than proved yesterday that he is NOT a good QB.

UGA69Dawg said...

Dave I agree that the coaches need to be held accountable for this seemingly terrible start. Please press CMR on the issue of Special Teams, they are making our whole team look poorly coached. He seems not to really care as if it is not his problem but it will soon be his and his alone. Even with a great O like last year the Special Teams play killed us, this year its hard to imagine winning in the SEC with this O and bad special teams.

Anonymous said...

"Scheme was good, but execution was lacking."

Any real leader knows you put your team (soldiers) in a position to win or lose by your commands. For 3 to 5 million a year, these coaches are lacking. Time for a change.

Anonymous said...

David you are always a great read. Can you please find out why our coaching staff didn't seem to understand that we could challenge the spot on the 4th down we shut em down on.

Anonymous said...

because we didn't shut them down on fourth down, the guy did what knowshon used to do, had a second effort and spun out of our tackles for the extra yard. Why challenge something you are going to lose?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the dedication to the University the Joe Cox has shown, but after seeing him Saturday, it is clear that he is not the man for the job. We need to go ahead, and give one of the guys who will be there next year at least half the game snaps, if not all. We shouldn't have to be breaking in another QB next year. I am a UGA football letterman from the 90's and bleed red and black, but this kid is not what we need to lay our hopes on. I see a tough year, but keep your chins up. I have faith CMR will right the ship.