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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Practice Notes: Two Kings With Concussions

Georgia’s already thin wide receiver corps took another big hit this week.

Head coach Mark Richt said freshman receiver Tavarres King was “very unlikely” to make the trip to Tennessee for Saturday’s game after suffering a concussion last week against LSU.

That leaves Georgia with just five healthy scholarship receivers, but only two – A.J. Green and Michael Moore – have any significant playing time this season.

“All hands will be on deck, I can say that,” Richt said.

Tight end Orson Charles and cornerback Branden Smith have both been used in wide receiver roles at various times this season, but the injury to King likely means more playing time for sophomore Israel Troupe and freshmen Rantavious Wooten and Marlon Brown.

One of the country’s most highly recruited receivers last year, Brown has seen just a handful of snaps so far this season and has not caught a pass, but Richt said he has continued to make progress during practice and could be part of the game plan this week.

“He’s one step closer than he was before Tavarres getting hurt,” Richt said. “He’s not a whole lot different than what was happening with Washaun Ealey. We kept getting him ready and getting him to the point where he could function in a game, and Marlon is rapidly moving in that direction.”

Playing time would be particularly rewarding for Brown this week, as the Memphis native would have a chance to play in front of his home-state fans against a program that was in hot pursuit of him during the recruiting process.

That extra bit of pressure doesn’t worry offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, however.

“He’s an even-keeled kid who works hard,” Bobo said. “I think he’s got the right attitude and he’ll be successful if he keeps that attitude.”

King has 10 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown in five games this season. Wooten has two catches, and Brown and Troupe have yet to record a reception in 2009.

PULLED IN ALL DIRECTIONS

After working a few snaps on offense in each of Georgia’s first four games, Smith might see less action on that side of the ball for the next few weeks.

Smith, who has one catch for 3 yards and six rushes for 80 yards this season, didn’t earn a touch on offense last week against LSU after his practice time with the group was cut short during the preceding week.

“With some injuries at corner, he’s been playing more corner here lately, so practice time with Branden has gone down a little bit,” Bobo said. “Yeah, it’s easy to draw up a play and say we’re going to do this play, but if you don’t have guys to practice it, it’s a little more difficult.”

The same situation holds true with backup quarterback Logan Gray, who Bobo said has been avoided in the game plan because of an injury to third-string quarterback Aaron Murray.

“You have Aaron Murray out and your backup in the game running some plays, if you get him hurt, that puts you in a situation where you really don’t have a back-up quarterback,” Bobo said. “So that changes your thought process a little bit of what you’re going to do offensively with Logan Gray.”

Despite the apparent limitations on two of Georgia’s change-of-pace weapons, Bobo said both Gray and Smith will continue to have a role in the playbook.

“There’ll always be a few plays with (Smith) in the game plan and with Logan,” Bobo said. “But it just depends on what we feel gives us the best chance.”

MORE INJURY NEWS

Tailback Caleb King also suffered a concussion and a broken jaw after a hit during last week’s game, and Richt said he was almost certain that sophomore Richard Samuel would get the start this week.

Linebackers Marcus Dowtin and Akeem Dent will miss this week’s game as well. Dent is still recovering from a lingering hamstring injury that has kept him out of the past two games, and Dowtin underwent surgery on a torn ligament in his left ring finger on Sunday.

Senior Marcus Washington and sophomore Nick Williams will likely handle the majority of the reps Dent and Dowtin would have played, but Richt said there was a chance some of the younger linebackers such as Christian Robinson, Akeem Hebron and Charles White could see action, too.

“We’ve been repping them all along and giving them as much work as we can, and more than likely they’ll get more opportunity in the game than they have,” Richt said.

DOUBLE DUTY

While Gray may not be seeing much action at quarterback so far this season, he’s getting plenty of work on special teams. Gray has worked on Georgia’s kickoff coverage unit and has been the team’s primary punt returner in situations where a fair catch is likely.

Those were roles Gray played last season, but he said he wasn’t expecting another year of action. But he’s not complaining.

“I think it comes with being the backup quarterback, I wasn’t going to do as many special teams,” Gray said. “Coming into the season, I didn’t even think I was going to catch punts. It was sort of a last-second thing with our punt safe team when we know a fair catch is coming, I guess Coach (Jon) Fabris wanted me to keep doing it.”

MY BAD, GUYS

Brandon Boykin is used to celebrating interceptions, but after making his second pick of the season to halt a potential touchdown drive against LSU, the sophomore cornerback immediately knew he had messed up.

With the Tigers driving deep into Georgia territory in the first quarter, Boykin picked off a Jordan Jefferson pass in the end zone. Rather than settle for a touchback, however, Boykin attempted to return the interception. He was tackled at the 2-yard line, and Georgia's offense was unable to sustain a drive. The result was bad field position for much of the fist half for the Bulldogs.

"That was my fault," Boykin said. "It wasn’t very smart of me to take that out. I was just trying to make a play, and initially I thought there was daylight, but there wasn’t. The smart thing to do would have been to take a knee and give my offense great field position. But I can’t look at that. If I get the opportunity to take it in the end zone, I definitely will take a knee, so it was a learning experience and I’ll get better from it.”

CHANGE BREWING?

For the second straight year, Georgia's kickoffs have been an adventure, but this season there is one big difference: Richt has an alternative to kicker Blair Walsh.

The Bulldogs signed junior college transfer Brandon Bogotay during the offseason to push Walsh for the kickoff job, and while a change hasn't come yet, Richt said the team has given some thought to handing the job to Bogotay if Walsh continues to struggle.

"It's been considered," Richt said. "We haven't done it to this point, but everybody's got to perform and certainly we want Blair to do that. I definitely don't want to throw him under the bus for all the issues on that team, but it's been part of the issue, not getting it where we need to get it. The ball placement hasn't been as sharp."

EXTRA POINTS

-- I noted this last week, but Bobo was a bit more emphatic in his pronouncement this week -- quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger will both redshirt, barring an injury to one of Georgia's top two quarterbacks.

-- Tight ends coach John Lilly said that there still has been no decision on whether tight end Bruce Figgins will accept a medical redshirt for this season. Figgins will be serving the sixth and final game of a suspension this week and would be eligible to return to action against Vanderbilt on Oct. 17. Lilly said the ultimate decision on whether to play would be up to Figgins.

-- Richt on today's practice session: "I thought today's practice was good. I thought the guys played with good tempo, good focus. Overall it's been a really good Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. We're going to go over to the stadium and crank the noise and try to get it so loud we can't hear. Hopefully we don't blow a speaker."

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, let me get this straight Mr. Bobo? We have cut back on the plays for Gray because of concern of injury. Excuse me, but wasn't #6 on the kickoff coverage team last week that gave up the game winning return. I'm so tired of the BS of this coaching staff and the amount of smoke being blown up my A$$. Wake up Dawg Nation!!!!

Anonymous said...

Moreover, earth to Bobo, unless and until we show that Gray is capable of throwing the ball, all his appearance does is telegraph a running play.

runnindawg said...

Wonder what their reasoning is for being on the kickoff team. He's running full speed down field trying to tackle someone, and that won't get him hurt?? WTF?? Yet, putting him in the shotgun and letting him hand the ball off is going to get him hurt? WOW!! I wonder if Bobo even realizes he's on the kickoff team? Makes me wonder?

Anonymous said...

That is BS about Gray. I am losing faith in Bobo very quickly. Also, why is Richt essentially blaming Blair Walsh for are kick off woes? If wants to start blaming people, he needs to look at his coaching staff. Richt is starting to sound like a politician - talks a lot and says nothing worthwhile.

Brad said...

So while a little less volatile, I share the same concern, or I suppose confusion with the reasoning of the coaching staff. I can understand not being able to get Smith in on offense as often due to his practicing more with the defense. However, they lose me with this logic: Aaron Murray is out, so Logan Gray is getting more reps (that which is keeping Smith out), but then they're worried about Logan Gray actually being in the game and getting hurt? That would make sense if it weren't for the fact that, one way or another, you have to have a quarterback in the game. If Gray is in, by definition (barring some play I haven't seen yet), Cox is out, which means that either way you're risking only 1 quarterback. Why does it matter which one is in if the risk level stays exactly the same?

This is more out of concern that, God forbid something does happen to Cox, we'll have no one with any legitimate on field experience to play, let alone what happens next year.

MikeInValdosta said...

I think it is time for Richt to institute a media black out. Sorry, David, but these guys have too many problems to be speaking to the press. #SAD

Anonymous said...

I thought the #6 on the the kickoff team was walkon Andrew Johnson. Or did they impeach him?

Anonymous said...

Not to throw the kid under the bus, but then goes ahead and places blame on the player. Bobo said what? Is this coaching staff blowing up? Reminds me of the last days of goff when nobody knew what the heel was going on.

Austen said...

Shoot me now if Bobo really said what he said about Gray - He looks like a good QB that would offer our offense some increased production. Assuming that is true, Bobe is essentially saying that he would rather increase our chances of LOSING now and preserving a second stringer than increasing our chances of WINNING now by allowing a football player with skills to play. Mike Bozo is an underused name I tell you. Maybe he and Martinez can go coach arena league football. Of the two, I'd probably keep Martinez over Bozo!

UGA69Dawg said...

You know CMR really does need to hire a PR person to coordinate the BS they are putting out to you media guys. How did you not call BS to Bobo on that "we do not want to risk injury to Gray" answer. Dave you have got to hit the softballs these goofballs are throwing if you are going to get to the bigs.

Somebody please tell CMR to just stop answering questions if all he is doing is blowing smoke. We don't cover the kicks no matter where they are kicked. We are the slowest KO team in the SEC. We can't tackle in the open field even on D must less KO's. Blair is the least of our problems on KO's and by keeping him doing it we are going to screw him up for field goals like we did last year.

Anonymous said...

Dawgnation's ability to hype up a back-up is extraordinary. Logan Gray's the second string QB. Why would you play the second string QB if the first string QB is healthy? "B/c he'll be inexperienced when he starts next year." Well, he'd be just as inexperienced the moment we trotted him out this year. So, in a close game, coming down to the wire, we're going to risk a precious possession in order to get our back-up some reps, so he's more experienced next year when he's not a back-up? Huh? Seriously folks, Logan Gray is not Tyrod Taylor or Terrelle Pryor. He's not going ot magically wake up this offense. He's good, he's young, he's second string and he should stay on the sideline. That's it.

F U G A said...

F U G A