Line’s Worst Fear Realized

Sturdivant

Sturdivant

Another article about the Sturdivant injury (courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald):

The Georgia football team didn’t have to wait for its season to begin to confront its first major dose of adversity.

No, the Bulldogs worst fears became reality when they began their second week of preseason practice Tuesday with the realization that starting offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant is lost for the season with a left knee injury sustained in Monday’s scrimmage.

Georgia director of sports medicine Ron Courson said Sturdivant sustained a “multiple ligament injury” to the knee.

He will undergo reconstructive surgery next week and is expected to return after a 9 to 12 month rehabilitation.

No. 1 Georgia began life without Sturdivant on Tuesday as it returned to practice without its best offensive lineman.

“I’m still not over it yet,” coach Mark Richt said after practice. “Maybe if you asked me in a week I could tell you that everything is going to be OK, but right now I’m still kind of sick about the whole thing.”

Richt’s queasy feeling is because the left tackle job is pivotal in protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford’s blind side.

“It was definitely a huge loss for us on offense,” Stafford said. “We’ve still got 14 games to play, hopefully. It’s tough for him, we know, but we have to find somebody to plug in the spot. 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.”

With Sturdivant starting every game last season at left tackle, Georgia surrendered only 15 sacks in 13 games. He was named a freshman All-American and to the SEC coaches all-freshman team.

Sturdivant gave Richt comfort “to know the backside of your QB is protected and to know that he understands what to do.”

How valuable is Sturdivant?

Listen to former Bulldogs center Fernando Velasco, the unquestioned leader of the offense last season who got word about Sturdivant’s injury Monday night while in training camp with the Tennessee Titans.

“From Day 1 of spring practice last year, I definitely saw that he had ‘It,’ ” said Velasco, by phone from Nashville, Tenn. “He had what it took to be a premier player in this league especially playing left tackle, which is such a vital position. He had all the physical tools. Once he understood the plays that he was running, he did a great job. … I was definitely thinking he would have a great year No. 2. It’s unfortunate he got hurt. I hate it for him.”

Richt said Sturdivant was in good spirits when he visited him on Monday night.

The injury, Richt said, is similar to one suffered by defensive end Dan Footman at Florida State. Footman returned from his injury to have an NFL career.

Footman had a left knee injury in which three ligaments were torn and there was extensive cartilage damage, according to a story in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. The Florida State team physician at the time called it the worst injury he had seen in 17 years.

As for how Georgia will replace Sturdivant, offensive line coach Stacy Searels lined up redshirt sophomore Josh Davis as starting left tackle. “I think his energy level moved up a notch thinking he might be the guy,” Richt said. “I liked what I saw.” Sophomore Clint Boling was the second-team left tackle but also could push for the starting job. Boling is suspended for the first game for a charge of reckless driving. Left guard Vince Vance also received work at left tackle.

Another possibility is to move freshman right guard Cordy Glenn to right tackle and move Kiante Tripp to left tackle.

“It’s going to be a real vital part of the team to see who’s going to step up,” Velasco said. “I don’t even know who coach Searels is going to put in that spot. Whoever it is, the guys got to pick it up and step up around him. Coach Searels is a great coach, a real unbelievable teacher of the game. I’m sure whoever it is he’ll have him ready.”

Said linebacker Dannell Ellerbe: “I’m glad it happened now and not right before the (first) game. We’ve got a lot of time to get them in there, work them in and get them comfortable with everything going on.”

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