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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Post-Game Notes: Sturdivant Waiting For MRI

Of all the disappointments in Georgia’s 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, none may loom larger than the injury suffered by left tackle Trinton Sturdivant.

On a run by tailback Carlton Thomas in the third quarter, Sturdivant landed awkwardly on his left knee and needed assistance leaving the field. Sturdivant was playing in his first game since the 2007 season after suffering multiple ligament tears in the same knee during fall camp last year.

Head coach Mark Richt said the team would have to wait for the results of an MRI before knowing the severity of the injury, but Sturdivant was wearing a cast down the length of his leg and was on crutches after the game.

“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions right this second,” Richt said. “He’s keeping his spirits up and is optimistic that it’s not a real severe thing. An MRI will basically tell the story, but he’s not in pain at all that I could see.”

Georgia was in the midst of a promising drive prior to the injury, but quarterback Joe Cox was sacked on the next play after senior Vince Vance replaced Sturdivant, and the Bulldogs settled for a long field goal from Blair Walsh.

After the game, Richt said the injury didn’t stymie the drive and that Sturdivant’s loss wasn’t responsible for the second-half problems for the offense.

“When it happened, we just said, ‘Get in the game, Vince, and let’s go,’” Richt said. “We didn’t think that much about that part of it as much as we did when the game was over.”


While Cox tested negative for the H1N1 virus and was able to catch a late flight to Stillwater for the game, the prognosis wasn’t as good for redshirt freshman Makiri Pugh.

The reserve safety also came down with flu symptoms Wednesday, but Richt acknowledged that Pugh tested positive for the H1N1 virus and was not able to travel for the game.

Richt said he was not sure how long Pugh might be out while recovering.

“Even with guys that have had that H1N1, sometimes it’s a quick turnaround, sometimes it’s not,” he said.

The information was a slip of the tongue from Richt, who is typically barred from dispensing health information about players due to privacy regulations. Noting that, Richt refused to discuss whether any additional players had exhibited symptoms or had been tested for the illness.


Georgia’s defensive line had a bit more heft to it during much of the first half of Saturday’s game as tackle Geno Atkins lined up at end, a plan defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said has been in place for a while.

“We don’t have enough depth and Geno is an outstanding player,” Martinez said. “We put our best players on the field any way we can.”

Martinez said Atkins will continue to play both end and tackle for the foreseeable future.


Throughout the preseason, Georgia’s defense touted a renewed focus on turnovers, finishing plays when an opportunity arose.

Any success enjoyed during the month leading up to the opener, however, was overshadowed by a series of missed opportunities Saturday. Georgia’s secondary had at least three chances to intercept passes from Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson, but failed to capitalize on any of them – a crucial turning point in a game that featured three turnovers by Georgia’s offense.

“We had opportunities to get some turnovers and we didn’t capitalize on that and they did,” Martinez said. “That’s probably the difference in the game.”


Georgia’s wide receivers struggled to get open against a stingy Oklahoma State secondary, with only sophomore A.J. Green providing any significant productivity.

Michael Moore and Tavarres King were the only receivers other than Green to catch a pass, combining for just 10 yards in the game.

“I think we have guys that can do it,” Cox said of his receivers. “I just missed some people, they had some stuff covered well. That’s just how it was (Saturday).”

Freshmen receivers Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten didn’t see any action, and that’s a problem offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said will need to be resolved.

“You’ve just got to play those guys and let them learn through experience,” Bobo said. “I’m sure we’ll talk about that after the game and realize we’ve got to get those guys some more reps. They’re going to make mistakes, they’re young, but we’ve got to get them ready to play.”


Freshman cornerback Branden Smith saw action in all three facets of the game for Georgia on Saturday, which he said surprised even him.

In addition to seeing work at cornerback in nickel packages, Smith returned two kicks and saw significant action on offense. Smith ran the ball three times for 11 yards – once taking a direct snap in a “Wild Cat” package – and caught another pass for a 3-yard gain.

“I really didn’t know that much, but it was a good feeling that I got the touches,” Smith said. “I wish I would have gotten the ball more to help the team out.”

Smith said the performance was bittersweet at best in light of the outcome of the game, but he said he planned to take a positive outlook on the experience.

“I’ve been waiting for this day all my life,” Smith said, “and I think I played pretty good.”


Smith wasn’t the only Georgia player to see action at quarterback Saturday. Backup Logan Gray came in during the first quarter to take one snap on offense, running for a two-yard gain.

The designed run was a formation offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he hoped to use more often, but the Bulldogs’ offensive struggles negated the play.

“Logan was part of the plan in the red zone,” Bobo said, “and we were down in the red zone one time.”


Sophomore Drew Butler isn’t calling it a perfect day, but his 57-yard average on six punts helped Georgia stay in the game well into the fourth quarter. It was the second-best average for a punter in Georgia history.

Butler boomed a 68-yarder and a 75-yarder, the latter coming a bit more on a lucky bounce than on a strong kick.

“It was short enough and maybe ugly enough where (Oklahoma State returner) Dez (Bryant) decided he wasn’t going to mess with it,” Richt said. “Then we got a great roll.”

So despite the impressive statistics, Butler said he still has a lot to work on.

“I could have done some things better,” Butler said. “A couple of my punts were pretty low, and I need to give my coverage team a little more time.”


Freshman tight end Orson Charles finished the day as Georgia’s second-leading receiver, catching two passes for 46 yards in the game.

Richt said Charles made a couple of nice plays, but still had some other mistakes he needed to improve upon.

“Orson did get a couple opportunities and he’ll get more as the season goes on,” Richt said.

In addition to Charles and Smith, five other freshmen saw action for the Bulldogs – tight end Arthur Lynch, safety Shawn Williams, defensive tackle Abry Jones, defensive end Montez Robinson and linebacker Michael Gilliard.


-- This was the first loss in a season opener under Mark Richt. The last time Georgia began a season 0-1 was 1996.

-- Oklahoma State's only scoring drive of more than 32 yards consisted of just three plays and took only 40 seconds. All three of the Cowboys' other drives were on short fields, two following Georgia turnovers and one following a long kick return by Perrish Cox.

-- Walsh's 53-yard field goal was a career long. His previous high came on a 52-yarder in last year's opener against Georgia Southern. It was the longest by any Georgia kicker since Brandon Coutu connected from 55 yards against UAB in 2006.

-- Rennie Curran and Marcus Dowtin tied for the team lead with eight tackles.

-- Georgia's defense played well overall, but failed to record a single sack.

-- Despite dominating the scoreboard, Oklahoma State had just one more first down than Georgia and just 50 more yards of total offense.

-- Oklahoma State racked up 15 penalties for 106 yards in the game.

-- Mark Richt's teleconference is set for 5:!5 p.m. tomorrow. I'll have more details then.


Anonymous said...

This game was lost by the offense, the special (lack) teams and the refs. I do not know how adults allow the refs from the same conference at the game. Are we incredibility stupid? If we lose to SC, we lose our first 5 games and maybe more. Maybe Richt will decide he needs better coaches before he is let go. You can laugh but for $5 million a year people expect a lot more. Richt is a nice guy but too nice. The SEC has upgraded the coaches and we have not kept pace.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am stunned at that last comment. Hopefully you are just blowing off some steam and don't seriously think that a loss to OK ST is enough to start calling for Richt's job. I agree with you that the O lost the game, the D played great despite being put in numerous holes by the Offense. If we cut down on the turnovers, protect the ball, and WRs besides AJ make some catches we will be just fine. I even still have confidence in the O, I mean they aren't going to be firing on all cylinders the first game. Now that they have some real game tapes to study and get better off of they can come out more confident of what they can do against SC. I'm pumped for next weekend already. Go Dawgs!

Michael said...

Still no sacks.

Still no turnovers for us.

Still bad special teams.

Still boring, uncreative offense.

Still a lack of "killer instinct."

=> Defense seemed significantly improved.

Only one of the core problems from last year appears to have been addressed AT ALL.

Very depressing. :(

Frank said...

There is an issue with the larger staff. Frankly, we don't have one of the better coaching staffs in the SEC, and the problems start with BOTH coordinators.

We can't rely on out-talenting teams with our depth of talent year in and year out. At some point, we have to coach them up and get great, not just good assistants in here.

At some point, Richt is going to have to fire one of his own. I love the guy, but I don't know if he can put aside personal relationships and his affection for his friends on the staff to do what is best for the program.

We'll see soon enough. I could be wrong.

IMO, ironically, Martinez is Richt's best assistant, but from the coordinators down to the position coaches, we aren't keeping pace. There are exceptions, of course, but you generally get what you pay for, and we pay middle of the pack prices. Figure it out.

Anonymous said...

1)For all of the emphasis put on the pass rush during the offseason--Still no pass rush!
2)O-line left big holes but r-backs are unable to stay on their feet after first contact or unable to make the first tackler miss. I guess we were spoiled with KM.
3)Punt team and Butler were awesome!
4)Kickoffs: For the love of God, please kick the ball out of the endzone or find someone that can!
5) I love what JC has brought to the program but he still doesn't have the arm strength to make the long throw. OSU figured that out after the first qtr.
6)Call me crazy, but I still think that M. Washington (along with RC) was the best run stopper between the tackles. Watch some videos from 2 years ago.
7)Some nice hits from the secondary, but with that kind of speed, why are we getting beat long? RJ, that was a bad call by the refs!
8)Had some freshman mistakes from both sides of the ball. Hopefully, that will work itself out!

Joe said...

Is it bad that I've been listening to the "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" to help console me?

Seriously, no one needs to be fired. Let's not be like the UT fans!

Silver Dawg said...

The sky is not falling. It was just a real bad thunderstorm.

Anonymous said...

Who on our coaching staff is going to fire these dagws up same old story lack of passion. Not sure what happend to the play calling after the first drive? Also it was clear at half we needed a qb change where was Logan G or Murray?
You cant have 35 and 22 covering kicks they were gased at the end. Samuels footwork was horrible he was all over the place and left tons of yards. Bottom line I was looking for the Junkyard dawgs and didnt see that, what are they doing at half?? D Pollack we need you to come fire thses guys up , felt like we gave up.

Anonymous said...

Does Willie know anything other than cover 2? Richt you need a few Erik's. And what are you doing at half?? Why no qb change considering Joe C had the flu? first game of the year our substituting was poor , 35 and 22 etc played to much on special teams. And our starting corners were returning kicks , maybe later in the season but thought we needed to save our playmakers on d.

Anonymous said...

Cover 2 only works if you have good safties. OSU's two gig plays down the middle to the te and touchdown to #1 middle of the endzone. D played much better but lets mix it up and not become so predictable. And sorry Bobo I could have called a better game.

Silver Dawg said...

Anonymous #5 is right on target. We need the fire of an Erk Russell. One would be great. Two or three even better. Without "fire in the belly" it's just an empty stomach.

FL Dawg said...

Always thought D Pollack would be a hell of a coach not saying d cordinator but Czar of player motivation and if you dont play with fire you deal with 47. Come on how much did our athletic department make? Lets get a special teams coach and Pollack to kick there ass.

Fl Dawg said...

Are the strength and condition coaches up to par? with all of our injuries over the past few years and dawgs running out of gas in the second half? Just a question but besides 35 etc are we in elite shape not good but championship?

Fl Dawg said...

How much to get Kirby Smart back in Athens bring that Saban style??