Sturdivant’s substitute shows mixed emotions

Josh Davis likes the opportunity to start. But he’s not happy about why it happened.

Trinton Sturdivant suffered a season-ending knee injury this past Monday. Since Davis was first in line as Sturdivant’s backup, he gets the first chance to start at left tackle.

“It’s sad that he got hurt,” Davis said. “I’m really, really upset about that because he’s one of my best friends. I’m definitely going to go out and do what I can do. I’m excited to get this opportunity. But I wish it hadn’t happened this way.”

Davis, a 6-foot-6, 293-pound redshirt sophomore, visualized increased playing time anyway. He handled spot duty and played in eight games as a redshirt freshman last season and he thought that another year of added weight and strength would help him hold up in the SEC. But Sturdivant’s injury not only moved Davis up the depth chart but also moved forward his time table.

“I’ve just got to go out there and grind,” Davis said. “I’ve got to play hard and keep going at it. He was a huge part of our team so I’ve got some big shoes to fill. I’ve got to make sure I’m putting out the effort and I know what to do.”

Davis worked as left tackle with the first-team offense this past Tuesday, the first full practice after Sturdivant’s injury. Clint Boling and Vince Vance also took snaps at left tackle as offensive line coach Stacy Searels rearranged his depth chart.

“We’re really happy with how Josh is playing right now,” coach Mark Richt said. “He’s stepped in and is doing a really good job.”

Wilson itching to get back

Tony Wilson can see the end of his long trip back from an ankle injury. But he’s not there yet.

Wilson can take part in some preseason drills, but coaches have not cleared him for full participation in drills while his ankle completes rehabilitation.

“I try to stay away from the full tackling and the contact while my ankle heals up,” Wilson said.

“I can tell it’s starting to get stronger, but I still can’t do a lot of things. It hurts when I make cuts and things like that. But I can tell a difference this week from last week. I feel like sometimes you’ve got to take one step back to take two steps forward.”

Wilson doesn’t know when he might be cleared for full-time duty. He began preseason camp as the No. 2 starter behind Mohamed Massaquoi at flanker and caught 14 passes for 124 yards last season.

“It’s very, very, very frustrating,” Wilson said. “Some people don’t understand what it really, truly means to be hurt. You may have days that you don’t want to practice but when you have that taken away from you, the opportunity to go out with your teammates and practice, it hurts. You want to go out there and hurt with your teammates, so it’s frustrating.”

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

O-Line Aftermath

The offensive line isn’t deterred by the uncertainty of life without Trinton Sturdivant.

Center Chris Davis and right tackle Kiante Tripp spoke solemnly about the loss of Sturdivant, Georgia’s left tackle who sustained a season-ending knee injury on Monday.

“Great teams have adversity and we got to find a way to fight through the adversity,” Davis said. “Somebody’s got to step up and fill in.”

There is still no clear-cut favorite on who will take on the responsibility. The offensive line visited Sturdivant in the training room after he went down during Monday’s practice.

“We all went into the training room and gave him a hug and told him we were thinking about him, and I think that brought us together closer,” Davis said.

Sturdivant protected Stafford’s blind side all last season, but Stafford said he isn’t concerned.

The Bulldogs practiced four players at left tackle Tuesday: 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.

“You got to trust whoever’s in there no matter who they are,” Stafford said.

Davis and Tripp both said they would make the switch to left tackle if the coaches needed them to.

With the potential shuffling, Cordy Glenn is currently No. 1 at right guard but could move to right tackle if Georgia decides to move Tripp to the left side.

Glenn could not share his input because offensive line coach Stacy Searels does not allow true freshman to speak to the media. But Davis and Tripp have been impressed with how quickly he has gelled with the team.

“He’s shown good steps and good initiative to get better,” Davis said. “Honestly I didn’t expect him to jump to a starting roll but he’s come into camp and he’s worked his butt off. He’s earned everything he’s gotten.”

– Courtesy of AJC.com

Rambo’s mission: More fire boosts defensive production

Baccari Rambo moved into a backup role at safety alongside John Knox for Georgia when Quintin Banks suffered a torn MCL.

Rambo’s first scrimmage showed he might be ready for the gig.

He was credited with six tackles, but Rambo said he left more on the turf at Sanford Stadium.

“I’ve got to push myself harder because I’m out of shape,” said the 6-foot, 206-pound freshman.

“We were watching film (Tuesday) and I wasn’t hustling to the ball. I could have had more tackles if I had hustled to the ball. … I’ve got to get used to the tempo, full-speed all the time.”

Rambo was a dual-threat quarterback at Seminole County High in Donalsonville, where he also played in the secondary.

“Sometimes I just handed off the ball and sat back there and watched,” Rambo said. “Playing quarterback in the triple-option offense I was in shape, but then I played basketball and was in shape a little bit more, but after basketball season I didn’t work out that much and got out of shape.”

Banks’ injury was expected to keep him out six weeks. Fellow freshman Sanders Commings is also receiving second-team work in Banks’ absence.

“I know I’ve got to step up because I’m playing a big part now,” Rambo said.

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

Atkins and Owens Quite a Pair

ATHENS – When Geno Atkins first arrived at Georgia, he didn’t talk much.

The 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive tackle was the epitome of the strong-but-silent type, retreating to his room and rarely talking with teammates.A few doors down, however, lived Jeff Owens, Atkins’ future partner on the interior of the Bulldogs’ defensive line. Owens talked. He talked a lot.

In fact, Owens talked so much, it eventually forced Atkins out of his shell. He simply couldn’t keep quiet when Owens was making up stories.

“I got to call him out,” Atkins said. “Jeff likes to talk a lot – yap, yap, yap – tell fabricated stories that didn’t really happen.”

These days, the validity of any statement Owens makes is up for debate between the two defensive tackles who combined for 18.5 tackles-for-a-loss and 7.5 sacks – all from Atkins – last season.

In fact, Owens has come up with a nickname for Atkins now. He calls Atkins “180,” because of the complete reversal in his personality.

“Now I can’t keep him quiet,” Owens said. “He’s overcooking my grits, as I always say.”

Colloquialisms like that are what make it so hard to tune Owens out, and the 300-pound senior from Sunrise, Fla. usually has a big-fish type of story to tell. In fact, they’re usually about fishing.

Owens has a million tales about fishing, but there’s one Atkins will never forget – even if the two can’t exactly agree on all the details.

As it happened, Owens, Atkins and former teammate Dale Dixon went out fishing one night during Atkins’ freshman year.

“It was late night, about 10, 11 o’clock at night, trying to catch some catfish,” Owens said.

Atkins doesn’t quite have the same sea legs Owens prides himself on, and being out on the boat at night wasn’t exactly his cup of tea.

“We were on the boat fishing, it’s dark, you can’t see anything,” Atkins said. “There’s spiders, beetles crawling all over the boat. I’m freaking out because the boat’s like the size of a tub.”

And here’s where the two don’t see eye-to-eye.

“It was a pontoon,” Owens argues.

“It was the size of a Jacuzzi,” Atkins fights back.

In either case, the venture wasn’t proving successful. They hadn’t caught anything, and Atkins was ready to go home.

“Jeff kept saying, ‘Give it some time, give it some time,’ but we didn’t catch nothing,” Atkins said.

So they started the boat and prepared to head for shore, only Atkins had forgotten to pull a rope back into the boat, and it tangled around the engine.

“So we were stuck out there for about 20 minutes trying to get it untangled,” Atkins said.

Atkins still considers the incident a traumatic experience – “I only do daytime fishing now,” he said – but it was a perfect example of the relationship the two have shared.

Atkins was unsure, and Owens pushed him. Atkins made a mistake, and Owens helped him fix it. And when they both arrived safely at their destination, there was a good story to tell.

Things aren’t much different on the field, where Owens and Atkins take pride in tormenting opposing offenses instead of each other. Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez routinely says successful defenses must be strong up the middle, and the Bulldogs’ tackles take that to heart.

“I think it’s crucial because up front we’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback and make the quarterback make mistakes,” Atkins said. “We set the tempo up front.”

Of course, Atkins is still just a junior with only seven starts under his belt. He’s loaded with talent – “strong, physical, runs a 4.6,” as Owens points out – but he’s still learning the nuances of the defense.

Owens helps with that, too.

“If he forgets a call or they come out with some funky formation, he knows he can always look for me and I’ll help him out,” Owens said.

If not for Owens’ loyalty to his teammates, however, it might not have been that way this season.

The burly senior earned plenty of praise from NFL scouts after his junior season, and he considered moving on to the next level, forgoing his final year at Georgia and leaving Atkins to torment quarterbacks on his own.

The NFL was a possibility, Owens said, but deep down, it was never really a consideration.

“My whole goal coming to Georgia was to win a national championship,” Owens said. “I want to get a black plaque (signifying a national title) to put on this wall, and that’s what I’m here to do. I don’t want to let my teammates down, because Georgia’s bigger than me.”

That doesn’t mean Owens doesn’t have a few personal agendas. In fact, when it comes to individual accolades, his rivalry with Atkins goes way back.

Atkins, too, grew up in Florida and attended a neighboring high school to Owens. As Owens tells it, they met when Atkins was a sophomore in high school, although Atkins argues it was a year later.

In a track-and-field competition, Atkins beat Owens in both discus and shot put – a feat Owens begrudgingly acknowledges.

On the football field, however, Owens claims revenge.

As a sophomore, Atkins was playing offensive line and linebacker, and his team lost to Owens’ team 21-3.

“I thought it was 14-3,” Atkins argues, but Owens disregards the rebuttal.

“I had like two sacks and like 12 tackles,” Owens said.

“And then he woke up from his dream,” Atkins fires back.

Owens tried to buttress the validity of his account by detailing the images of the game. It rained like cats and dogs, he said, and his team laid a beating on Atkins’ squad.

“Yes, I know that, Jeff,” Atkins admits, “but I don’t remember hearing your name at all.”

For Atkins, it’s not just about calling Owens on his tall tales. It’s about a friendly competition that might not seem all that friendly if both players didn’t have smiles plastered across their faces.

At Georgia, the two still place small wagers on who will play better in each game. They root for each other, but a little competition certainly keeps things interesting.

“Just about every play, I always tell him, ‘Meet you at the quarterback, Geno,’ ” Owens said.

Last season, however, Atkins spent a lot more time in the opponent’s backfield than his older teammate. Owens failed to record a sack, while Atkins finished with the second most on the team.

This year, Atkins said the two might start a small pot to put on the line, but last year’s wager was for something different – something more important than money.

“Just respect,” Owens said.

After all, Atkins was no longer the quiet kid who refused to talk to his teammates. He was now a man worthy of Owens’ respect. Atkins had grown into exactly the player Owens knew he could be when he took him out on that fishing boat in the middle of the night.

“He’s 180,” Owens said. “It’s a totally different Geno, and I love this Geno a whole lot better than the old one.”

– Courtesy of Scout.com

Another Moss In The Making?

Freshman WR A.J. Green

Freshman WR A.J. Green

Heralded freshman wide receiver A.J. Green has been so impressive in camp that he has Richt already talking about NFL All-Pro Randy Moss. Richt was at Florida State in 1995 when Moss was redshirted before he transferred to Marshall the next season.

“When the Vikings drafted Moss … I told Brad Johnson [Richt’s brother-in-law and former FSU quarterback] to [quicken] up your drop, plant your feet and throw it as high and far as you can, and he’ll get it,” Richt recalled Friday.

Did he tell Stafford the same thing about Green? Richt laughed and said, “Stafford patted the ball once or twice [on a deep ball], and didn’t get it to him. The big boy had to wait. He was a little disappointed. I think he came back to the huddle and told Stafford to ‘throw it as far as you can.’ ”

Richt even went as far to say that he has never had a wide reciever such as Green since he has been at Georgia.

“I’m not saying he’s the best one, there’s just no one we’ve had like him. … We haven’t had anybody that tall [6-foot-4] with long arms. Sometimes the longer guys can’t run or change directions like this guy. He runs with good speed … but let him make a few plays in a real game before anointing him.”

– Courtesy of AJC.com

Dobbs Ready To Play

 

Demarcus Dobbs

Demarcus Dobbs

ATHENS, GA — Former Calvary star… Demarcus Dobbs… saw action in all 13 Georgia Bulldog games as a redshirt freshman.

He played mostly on special teams… but says it was a thrill to get out on the field at Sanford Stadium. “Oh, it’s exhilarating. It was such a rush, you know. Once you run out the dog tunnel, the fans, the band playing, everybody screaming, cheering for you, I mean it’s overwhelming.”

Dobbs got to play some during the 2007 season, making it a warmup for this season when he could see considerable playing time in the rotation at defensive end.  “We’re coming into camp and it depends on how well I do in camp is going to determine how much I play. I’m really praying and hoping that I do well.”

Dobbs has been working hard during the off-season to prepare for this opportunity.  “Getting faster, working out, trying to get stronger in the weight room, doing a lot of speed drills and agility drills, trying to get quicker off the line and everything like that to stay in the game more.”

Dobbs is beginning his third year in Athens and is on target to graduate.  “I feel that my major of consumer economics is more along the business line and I feel that you are versatile to do a lot more with a consumer economic degree and it’s not limiting you to one thing or another.”

You better believe, Dobbs is really looking forward to the season opener against Georgia Southern.  “This is an exciting game. It’s going to be exciting to see all the people you went to school with coming to root against you in such a way, but I’m excited for it.”

– Courtesy of WTOC (Savannah)

Stafford In Best Condition Of His Life

QB Matthew Stafford

QB Matthew Stafford

Companies constantly roll out new product lines to entice consumers to open their wallets.

TV networks unveil fresh programming each fall to lure viewers.

Georgia’s offense this season will send out Matthew Stafford – version 3.0.

The 6-foot-3, strong-armed quarterback has undergone a physical transformation. The junior is now a leaner 225 to 228 pounds.

“I’m probably in the best condition in my life, I guess,” Stafford said. “It’s good being able to be confident that I’m in good shape and that my feet are fast. Hopefully, it will translate onto the field.”

Stafford has gone from sharing the starting job as a pudgy freshman when he threw nearly twice as many interceptions as touchdowns to taking every significant snap last season when he tossed 19 touchdowns to 10 interceptions to lead Georgia to an 11-2 record.

His dedication to being in the best shape possible sends a signal to coaches about how serious Stafford is to make the most of a season when the Bulldogs are expected to be a top contender for the national title.

“It matters, and it shows the coaching staff and your teammates your focus,” coach Mark Richt said. “To get in that kind of condition, it takes work, it takes discipline, it takes sacrifice. It takes a focus.”

Stafford’s summer included working the Manning Quarterback Camp in Louisiana – where he said he worked out twice with Peyton and Eli – and the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp in Southern California.

Former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, an ESPN analyst, gushed about Stafford after seeing him at the Elite 11.

“I really think that Matthew Stafford, when it’s all said and done with the talent around him and watching and looking at him these last couple of days throw the football, it’s hard for me to imagine a better looking physical specimen in simply getting back and distributing the football than Matthew Stafford,” Herbstreit said on the air.

“This guy is going to have a huge year and when it’s all said and done, maybe the best quarterback and maybe the first pick if he decides to leave early for the NFL Draft.”

Stafford believes he’s slinging the ball around as well as he has as a Bulldog.

“I’m throwing it about as well as I have, definitely since I’ve been here,” Stafford said. “It kind of feels like back in high school when you just feel like you’re on on every throw.”

Richt said Stafford is probably as strong or stronger and much leaner.

“That equates into a quicker (player) and a guy who has more stamina,” Richt said. “Let’s say your in a game and you run for 12 yards and you get your jaw jacked and you run back to the huddle and you’ve got to run the next play. If you’re in better condition, you have a much better chance to recover in time to play full speed again.”

Quarterback Joe Cox, Stafford’s close friend, said part of Stafford’s secret is living with fullback Fred Munzenmaier, who Cox describes as a “health freak and big meat head in the weight room. He cooks up all the meals for the house. They eat right.”

Stafford might weigh 10 pounds less than he did last season, but don’t go by just the numbers on the scale.

“That seems like seven, eight, 10 pounds less but his body looks different, too,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “The baby fat is gone and he’s trimmed down. He really looks good. It’s growing up. He’s not 18. Now he’s 20.”

Bobo said that Stafford should be able to move better in the pocket to make plays and be better equipped to escape pressure.

“You definitely notice it,” tailback Knowshon Moreno said. “Definitely his whole figure changed from when he first got here. He definitely slimmed down and got in shape. It’s definitely awesome to see him in that position.”

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald