Georgia Tests Five Players At Left Tackle

Athens — It was back to business but not business as usual for No. 1 Georgia on Tuesday. Much of the 10th preseason practice was spent determining how to rebuild a damaged offensive line.

The Bulldogs lost left tackle Trinton Sturdivant to a season-ending knee injury on Monday. In the process they lost their most talented offensive lineman and the one player most responsible for protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford’s blind side.

The good news: Georgia has recruited offensive lineman vigorously the last few seasons. There are 14 in camp.

The bad news: If Tuesday’s practice is an indication, Georgia’s coaches have no idea yet which direction they’re going to go.

“I’m still not over it yet,” coach Mark Richt said after afternoon practice. “Ask me in a week and I might respond by saying everything’s going to be OK. But I’m still kind of sick about the whole thing.”

At least five different players worked at left tackle on Tuesday, including redshirt sophomore Josh Davis, who was Sturdivant’s backup; junior Vince Vance, the current starter at left guard; Clint Boling, who started at right guard as a true freshman last season; and starting right tackle Kiante Tripp.

But that wasn’t the only experimentation going on. Chris Davis, expected to start at center, also worked at both guard positions. Freshman Ben Jones worked at center and right guard. Freshman Cordy Glenn, the undisputed surprise of the preseason, is currently No. 1 at right guard but could move to right tackle if Georgia decides to move Tripp to the left side.

“Cordy really has come on,” Richt said. “He’s talented enough to play right tackle. Probably left also but he’s used to the right side. If we moved Cordy to right tackle we could move Kiante Tripp over to the left tackle.

“That would exhaust the possibilities but at least we have possibilities.”

Earlier Tuesday Richt got the full rundown from trainer Ron Courson on Sturdivant’s injury.

In a word, it was bad. Courson would say only that it was a “multiple-ligament injury,” which usually means at least the anterior cruciate (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) are damaged. After reconstructive surgery, which they hope can be performed in a week, Sturdivant is looking at a nine- to 12-month rehabilitation period. Best case scenario, he should be available for next season.

“We anticipate with rehabilitation he should be able to come back and continue his career,” Courson said.

Regardless, Sturdivant’s absence won’t cancel the season and the Bulldogs aren’t viewing it as a season-derailing episode.

“It’s definitely a huge loss for us on the offense,” Stafford said. “Trinton’s a great player and a great person. But we’ve still got 14 games to play, hopefully. We’re a resilient team. We understand it’s a loss but we’ve suffered losses in the past. When Thomas Brown went down last year, Knowshon [Moreno] stepped up. There are instances across the board where people go down and other people step up. It’s the sign of a good team. Hopefully we can do that.”

The Bulldogs have experienced a similar situation, and the results were more than satisfying.

Pull out the DVD of Georgia’s 1980 national championship season and look closely at the scene before the Auburn game.

One of the captains on the field for the coin toss is No. 54 Hugh Nall. He’s in a full leg cast and on crutches.

“Hugh was the heartbeat and the toughness and the soul of that team,” Buck Belue, quarterback of that 1980 squad, recalled on Tuesday.

But Nall, a senior captain and the team’s starting center, went down with a knee injury during practice the week before the Kentucky game. Backups Wayne Radloff and Joe Happe ended up sharing the center duties and, 12 games later, Georgia never lost.

“It’s a physical sport; you’re going to have injuries,” Belue said. “You just have to suck it up and go with who you’ve got.”

– Courtesy of AJC.com

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