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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Practice Notes: Dawgs Seek Replacement For Green

For the past eight weeks, wide receiver A.J. Green has been the foundation of Georgia’s offense. This week, the Bulldogs will get their first taste of life without their superstar.

Green suffered a bruised lung after taking a hit in the third quarter against Florida last week and will miss Saturday’s game against Tennessee Tech. That opens the door for some of Georgia’s other receivers to step up, and head coach Mark Richt is hoping they’ll make the most of their opportunity.

“Those guys are going to have to make plays, and I'm hoping that they do make plays and gain confidence,” Richt said. “In the long run, it may end up being a blessing for us to get some guys with some more opportunities.”

Redshirt freshman Tavarres King and true freshman Rantavious Wooten will be Georgia’s starters at receiver on Saturday, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, and fellow freshman Marlon Brown is expected to see an uptick in playing time, too, after seeing little action in Georgia’s first eight games.

None of the three have shown an ability to consistently make plays of late, and in the past five games, Green and senior Michael Moore are the only to receivers to have more than two catches in one game.

“You are obviously going to miss a guy like (Green), but I think we have guys like that that can step up and make plays,” quarterback Joe Cox said. “Wooten has been getting better every week in practice, making plays showing he should be in some plays in games. We’re looking forward to seeing who’s going to step up and who’s going to fill that spot.”

Brown may be the wild card Saturday. He has just two catches this season, both coming against Tennessee on Oct. 10. Brown suffered a hip pointer after that, however, and has been limited during practice for the past two weeks.

He’ll get his shot this week, Bobo said, and after a long season on the sideline, the injury to Green may be the opportunity he’s been waiting for.

“He has a lot of ability, too, and we definitely want to give him the opportunity to get on the field and make plays,” Cox said of Brown. “He’s already been on the field this year, but he hasn’t had a lot of balls thrown his way. This could be a good week to make a statement about his future.”

As for Green, Cox said the sophomore receiver said he felt good Sunday and reported no further problems so far this week. Richt said he expected Green to be ready to return to action next week when Georgia hosts Auburn.

“We're not 100-percent certain but the history of this type of an injury by the second week everybody has played to this point, so we don't have any reason to think that he won't,” Richt said.


After Cox’s three-interception performance against Florida, some fans were hoping one of Georgia’s two freshman quarterbacks might make his first appearance of the season this week, but Richt said that won’t be the case.

Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger will both redshirt this season, Richt said, but he admitted there was discussion about giving one of them playing time this week.

“It was discussion,” Richt said. “It wasn't just like, well their freshmen don't do it. We talked about it.”

In the end, several factors kept Richt from pulling the trigger.

For one, Murray had missed several weeks of practice earlier this season with elbow tendonitis. More importantly, Richt said, neither quarterback had proven he was ready to take over the job.

“We just didn't feel that this late in the season that it was time to do it, and they (hadn’t) earned the right to be the starter,” Richt said. “If you're going to put a freshman in there, you start him and you start him the rest of the way. But did anybody really earn that? They didn't. … We've got extremely high hopes for their careers, but to say one guy earned it over another, that didn't happen.”


Freshman tailback Washaun Ealey started for the second straight game last week and picked up a career-high 70 yards on 17 carries against Florida’s tough defense, but Richt said Tuesday that sophomore Caleb King would get the starting nod this week.

“We're not highly disappointed in Washaun at all,” Richt said. “Washaun will continue to play, but Caleb has proved to be the one guy … that is much stronger in his pass protection right now.”

The pass protection problems for Ealey were on display in the third quarter when Cox threw his second interception of the game. Ealey missed a block and Cox was forced out of the pocket, throwing a pass under duress toward the sideline. The turnover thwarted a key drive for the Bulldogs, and Florida solidified its lead from there.

King didn’t see nearly as much action as Ealey against the Gators, but Richt said he was pleased with the work that King did get. For the season, King has played in just five games, rushing 40 times for 154 yards and a touchdown. He also has four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown and has looked sharp in pass protection.


With Georgia struggling and FCS opponent Tennessee Tech on the docket this week, Richt was asked Tuesday about the potential of a large number of no-shows for Saturday’s game. While he said he hopes that won’t be the case, he said it won’t be a concern for the team.

"I’m not going to try to control the things that I can't control,” Richt said. “I don't know what's going to happen. I wouldn't underestimate our fan base. Our fans do love the Dogs. You can tell by the passion. I'm sure they want to support the young men. We want the fans to handle adversity well too. I can understand their feelings of being upset or being curious, whatever it might be, there's different levels. But we're all still Bulldogs. We all still want to support these young men, so I think our fan base will do a good job."

Cox said winning Saturday’s game takes precedent over any off-field issues, regardless of how many fans make their way into Sanford Stadium.

“We want to finish up these last four games as strong as we can, and it starts Saturday whether there’s 10 people in the stands or 90,000,” he said.


Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes earned a half-game suspension from head coach Urban Meyer after TV cameras caught him attempting to gouge the eyes of Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey last week. But while the punishment has been far from adequate in the minds of many fans, the victim isn’t holding a grudge.

“I don’t think he should have gotten suspended at all,” Ealey said. “We were just out there playing football.”

Ealey said he was not injured on the play, noting that Spikes never came particularly close to doing any serious harm.

“I had my eyes closed, and he really didn’t gouge my eyes,” Ealey said. “My eyes are OK. He really didn’t get his hands close to my eyes. He was out there playing football and having fun.”

Ealey’s teammates aren’t taking the eye gouge personally either, noting that the physical nature of the game often results in players taking things a step too far.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Georgia linebacker Marcus Dowtin said. “Stuff like that, it happens. People try to play a little harder than another person. I’ve got no hard feelings toward (Spikes). He’s a great player, he works hard. What he did I don’t think was smart, but stuff happens in a game.”

Spikes’ teammates in Florida, however, have pinned the blame for the incident square on Georgia’s players, saying the eye gouge came in retaliation for actions the Bulldogs made earlier in the game.

That’s news to Richt, who said he reviewed the film from the game looking for any examples of poor sportsmanship from the Bulldogs and came up empty.

"The only thing I noticed that I could think of is there was a time in the game when, (Spikes’) helmet comes off quite often, and there was one time where his helmet came off in the middle of a play, and he actually got hit with his helmet off,” Richt said. “It was totally unintentional. Everybody was just playing ball. And that might have got him bent out of shape, but I don't know. I have no earthly idea about all that."


Georgia's running game met with increased success against a stout defense last week, and part of the return to form was a new look on the offensive line.

Clint Boling moved from right tackle to left tackle, while Cordy Glenn shifted inside to right guard and Josh Davis got the start at Boling's former position. It was the fifth different lineup the Bulldogs had used this season, and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo hopes this one sticks.

"Hopefully we can stay with the same group," Bobo said. "Clint got banged up at the end of the game, but it looks like he'll be able to go. Hopefully we can get two weeks of continuity up front."


Punter Drew Butler, linebacker Rennie Curran, kicker Blair Walsh and tight end Aron White will serve as captains for the Homecoming date. Walsh and White will be serving as captains for the first time in 2009, while Curran will be doing so for the sixth time and Butler for the third occasion.


FL DAWG said...

Urban Myer says if you sneeze you might get passed on the depth chart. Saban will get cuss you out if you don’t run fast enough out of the locker room. The loyalty to coaches and senior’s has got to go. Why is Evans still playing when Rambo is our best saftey including Reshad who has lost millions this year by his inability to adjust and read plays. Let’s not forget Richt’s number one goal is not to win the national championship it’s to mold good christian men. Our team doesn’t seem as tough or mean as Ala, Florida,Tenn and LSU. And they have to get a new strength and conditioning program and coaches and state of the art facility. And the coaches don’t matter until Richt gets tough and is somewhat feared by his players. Hate to say it but we are soft as butter and teams look forword to playing us because of this and the fact that they know are plays. Do we have a mole on the staff that sells playbooks and game plans??? I know this has nothing to do about Davids post but just read Schultz's article in the ajc and agreed with him 100%.

Anonymous said...

Better to spend time with my family the next 4 Saturdays than to suffer through Dawg games that are filled with penalties, turnovers, terrible defense and excuse laden coaches. How many days until Spring practice?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:57, you are such a miserable soul you really should just leave and take all your Saturdays with you. UGA has so many like you, it would be nice to share folks like you with other teams so you can drag them down and make everyone a Debbie Downer there. Lots of teqams to choose from, pick one, and don't let the door hit you in the arse. Better to have fans in the foxhole who will fight with you, not be an anchor.

Anonymous said...

Hey FL DAWG, go find another team to be a fan for. "Richt's number one goal...." Give me a break. I'm sure you didn't feel this way in 2007. The man will right the program. You can't win 10 games every year. Guys like you embarrass programs. Support them or don't. Richt has proven he can win and he will win again. He lost the #1 QB and #1 RB in the NFL draft, not to mention he's in a division with one of the top 5 all time great college football players. Graduation will come and Aaron Murray & Washaun Ealey will grow up. The defense will be fixed when Martinez resigns at the end of the year. Just support the program while it's down this year.

FL DAWG said...

Anon 6:52you must not read or watch much on Mark he will tell you that himself! Where as Saban and Urnban will do whatever it takes to win , just a fact.

Anonymous said...

6:52 dont mistake a fact with not suppoting the program. And 10 wins how about6 or 7?? And maybe Willie resigns because he won't get fired due to loyalty. And we will be there supporting them this week as we did in Jax and Knoxville . I guess you never question anything you like? Why do alot of our players get better in the NFL?

canijustsay said...

after reading our players responses to spikes play ("its just football, no biggie") and then the florida players responses ("it was their fault, wah wah"), i gotta say id rather have a group of classy guys that may throw an egg in there one year versus a bunch of a-holes who may not.

UGA69Dawg said...

Hey our team has been taught to turn the other cheek. UF and Ala have been taught to beat the living hell out of a team that turns the other cheek.