Bulldogs search for answers at left tackle

Head coach Mark Richt dodged one storm brewing as practice ended Tuesday before walking into another in the post-practice presser.

Richt was bombarded, as expected, with questions surrounding left tackle, now that Trinton Sturdivant is out for the season with a knee injury.

“We’re a couple of weeks away and now you’ve got to start over again,” Richt said regarding how hard Sturdivant worked this offseason.

Richt said Sturdivant’s rehab will be about nine months and that it’s a “multiple ligament injury.”

Richt said that the offensive line tried out a lot of people at left tackle today, including Clint Boling, Josh Davis, who Richt said is working with the first unit the most, and Vince Vance. While they didn’t do it today, Richt said it is a possibility Kiante Tripp could move to left tackle since freshman Cordy Glenn has come on strong this camp.

“Cordy has come on as right guard but he’s talented enough to play right tackle,” Richt said. “He’s probably talented enough to play left tackle, but he’s used to playing on the right. So if we move him to right tackle we could move Tripp to left tackle.”

When asked about Glenn’s progress compared to where Sturdivant and Boling were last year as true freshmen, Richt said he was “on par.”

Losing Sturdivant hurts because the Bulldogs now need someone to step up to be able to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford’s blind side.

“We’ve seen a lot of stuff like this in the past,” Stafford said. “When Thomas Brown went down last year, Knowshon (Moreno) stepped up. There’s instances all across the board where people go down and you’ve got to step up. That’s the sign of a good team and hopefully we can do it.”

“To know the backside of your quarterback is protected, and knowing that he knows what to do,” Richt said. “… It’s sad for him of course. He worked so hard and got up to the 310 pound range. … It’s hard to lose experience.”

Richt added he talked to Sturdivant last night and said he was in good spirits.

“He was able to joke about it,” he said. “I don’t know hot he feels roday after sleeping and waking up and then how he’ll feel after surgery.”

Sturdivant is expected to have surgery sometime next week.

– Courtesy of The Red & Black

Fans’ Picture Day Set For Saturday

The annual Georgia Fans’ Picture Day will be held Saturday at Sanford Stadium and features coaches and student-athletes from most of the Bulldog sports teams.

Georgia teams other than football will be on hand for photographs and autographs from 1-3 p.m. followed by the football coaches and players from 3-5 p.m. Concessions and merchandise sales will take place from 1-5 p.m. throughout the 100 level concourse of Sanford Stadium.

Fans will be able to enter Picture Day through Gate 6 located off East Campus Road and Gate 2 located on Sanford Drive across from the UGA Bookstore and Tate Student Center. Both gates will open at noon.

Parking is available to the general public in the following campus lots: any lots along East Campus Road, Psychology-Journalism, Clarke Howell, and Legion Field lots. Fans may bring in just one item to be signed, and Picture Day event staff will enforce this number at the entrances.

The Georgia offensive unit and Coach Mark Richt will be located throughout the North side concourse of Sanford Stadium between Sections 109-101 while the defense will be located on the Gate 6 Plaza between Sections 125-121.

Other Georgia sports teams will be located between Sections 119-113 and the concessions and merchandise will be located throughout the event. The UGA Cheerleaders, National Champion Gym Dogs, Volleyball, Track & Field, Men’s & Women’s Tennis, Softball, Women’s Basketball, Equestrian, Men’s & Women’s Golf and Swimming & Diving teams will all be in attendance.

All activities associated with Picture Day will take place only on the 100 Level between Sections 125-101. Signage will be displayed throughout the concourse directing all fans to the team locations and concession and merchandise stands.

Fans can pick up their tickets to reserve their place in line for the opportunity to meet Richt beginning at 9 a.m. at the East End Ticket Windows located off East Campus Road.

The first 250 individual fans in line will receive a ticket and be guaranteed an opportunity to meet Richt, with additional fans receiving standby tickets. The Athletic Association will attempt to accommodate as many standby fans as possible within the time Richt is available from 3-5pm. Complimentary schedule cards and posters will be available.

Smith: SEC East is most important title to win

The following article is by Loran Smith and appears courtesy of the Athens Banner-Herald:

If Georgia ended last season as the best team in the nation, as some suggested, that naturally dictates the high preseason ranking that the Bulldogs enjoy today.

Championships, however, are not won in the preseason.

All analyses and forecasts regarding a bowl berth in Miami, where the national champion will be determined, hinge on one key development – representing the SEC East in the conference title game.

Had Georgia achieved that objective last year, it would have given the Bulldogs the opportunity to play LSU. Victory in the Georgia Dome would have enabled the Bulldogs to play for the national championship.

When last season is reviewed after the Bulldogs escaped disaster at Vanderbilt – the public became acutely aware that on the swing of one play in three games in which Georgia did not compete, there was the likelihood that the stars might have aligned just right for the Bulldogs.

One play, going the other way, in Tennessee’s games with South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kentucky and the Bulldogs would have returned to the Georgia Dome.

Before anybody makes reservations in Miami, reservations should first be made for Atlanta. To get there, the preseason’s No. 1 team must win road games at South Carolina, LSU, Florida (in Jacksonville), Kentucky and Auburn.

Most observers felt that Georgia was a better team than Tennessee at season’s end, but by winning in Knoxville, the Volunteers received the title game berth.

Georgia’s team and coaches were savoring an opportunity to play LSU last year. They were confident that they could match up favorably with any team. There was criticism of the BCS that dropped the Bulldogs in the standings when the bowl matchups were decided.

LSU had no prayer of playing for a national title with two losses had the Tigers not won their division and advanced to the Georgia Dome – which is why a team that doesn’t figure the division title to be the most important title of all, is a team likely to get blindsided. To win any championship, a team must maintain a hungry attitude and win the close games – like Georgia’s last national championship team in 1980.

Those players were hungry for success after the embarrassment of failure in 1979. They had something to prove. The current Georgia team does not have that same motivation. This team’s motivation is that it deserves its preseason ranking and will set out to prove it, by winning early and gaining momentum.

In 1980, six of Georgia’s games were decided by a touchdown or less. The Bulldogs won every one. The current Bulldogs must not only develop that habit, it must avoid becoming complacent with all the attention and preseason hype.

How hungry is this highly ranked bunch? Only time will tell.

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

Notes From Wednesday’s Practice

Redshirt freshman tight end Aron White worked out with the second team ahead of sophomore Bruce Figgins. … Knowshon Moreno continued to wear a green non-contact jersey, but Richt refuted rumors that he is injured. “Coach (Tony) Ball just feels better when he (Moreno) is in green,” Richt said. Moreno has been nursing a sore shoulder since last week, but Richt is not concerned about his fitness to play. … Richt said that the defenses dominated Wednesday’s 11-on-11 drill, especially the first team. … Dannell Ellerbe had to make a sacrifice before he could pose for the cover photo for Sports Illustrated. Georgia has a grooming code during the season that prohibits facial hair. Ellerbe, a North Carolina native, had to shave his summertime goatee against his will before he was allowed to pose for the photo.

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

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

Early opportunity fuels fullback

FB Shaun Chapas

FB Shaun Chapas

Shaun Chapas has a big hole to fill and even bigger gaps to blast.

Chapas is Georgia’s only experienced and available fullback available for the opener, so he’ll have a crash course in the backfield’s most anonymous position.

Georgia will work without three-year starter Brannan Southerland, who is out the first part of the season with a foot injury. The ranks thinned even more during the summer when Fred Munzenmaier was suspended for the first two games.

“It’s a big challenge because those are huge shoes to fill,” Chapas said. “But I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited about it. Brannan’s been supporting me and helping me out in any way he can.”

Chapas, a redshirt sophomore from St. Augustine, Fla., was Southerland’s primary backup last season.

Chapas played in every game and had 11 carries for 41 yards.

“He hasn’t done it in a lot of games, but he’s gotten good time in practice,” Southerland said. “He touched the ball a lot in high school, too. If you practice hard, all you’ve got to do is do it on Saturday.”

Southerland had been a fixture at fullback before this season. He had surgery to repair a broken foot in June.

Southerland is missing preseason workouts, plus an undetermined number of regular-season games to start the season.

“What helped me a lot last year coming to this year was getting to play some,” Chapas said. “I kind of know what to expect instead of coming into this without knowing what to expect. I’m not a wide-eyed freshman, so I’ve got an idea what to do.”

Chapas must play in the shadow of Southerland’s legacy that includes becoming the first fullback to lead the team in scoring since Theron Sapp when Southerland scored 10 touchdowns in 2006. Southerland also has built a reputation as one of the top blocking backs in the SEC.

“Besides being No. 2 fullback and going in as the No. 1 this year, Shaun’s a great friend of mine off the field,” Southerland said. “I hang out with him all the time. As far as nerves and ability, he’s got it down. He’s got enough experience from last year. It’s not a situation where I want him to do anything bad. I want him to do well. Hopefully when I come back, he’s going to be playing great so there’s going to be competition to get playing time. That’s what we want and it makes the team better.”

Chapas’ playing time increased as the 2007 season progressed. He was a major component on the kick return team and also had three catches for 22 yards. But he did not score a touchdown as a freshman last season.

Fullback is a high-impact position with blocking being the top priority. The season-ending knee injury to left tackle Trinton’s Sturdivant will shift more of the blocking load to the fullbacks.

“He can do all those things,” tailback Knowshon Moreno said. “He can run. He can block. He can catch the ball coming out of the backfield. That’s what you’ve got to have and he’s showing it on the practice field.”

Munzenmaier should return from a two-game suspension in time for South Carolina. Southerland will return some time after. Until then, even the tight ends are expecting to carry a lot of the blocking load.

“We’ll definitely shoulder some of that because the tight ends and the fullbacks can be interchangeable in certain things,” Tripp Chandler said. “If we need to go in there, if Chap needs a blow or something, we can definitely go in there. That’s something tight ends have to learn is how to play a lot of positions, whether it’s blocking or pass catching.”

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

UGA recruit Jackson preparing for prep school

Griffin’s Toby Jackson, the only member of Georgia’s incoming recruiting class not to qualify, is disappointed about missing his opportunity to play for the No. 1 team in the nation.

Instead of practicing with the Bulldogs, where he was expected to contribute at defensive end, Jackson has been working out with some high school buddies in preparation for reporting on Friday to Hargrave (Va.) Military Prep.

“I wouldn’t say I’m heart-broken, but it hurts,” Jackson said. “However, I’m happy for the other freshmen and rest of the team. They’ve earned the shot at being No. 1. Hopefully I can take care of what I have to do in prep school and join those guys [at Georgia] in time for bowl practice.”

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Jackson said he has already made the necessary grades, but needs to improve his test scores. He hasn’t had much to do with Georgia since getting the news at the beginning of July that his college career would be delayed.

Jackson hasn’t visited Athens or attended any preseason practices. He talked with a few of the other freshmen recruits in the early summer, but sort of lost contact. However, Georgia coach Mark Richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner gave Jackson a pep talk over the telephone last week.

“They just encouraged me, telling me to stay focused and stay hungry,” Jackson said. “They told me to use my time wisely at Hargrave.”

Jackson was arguably Georgia’s most heralded recruit on defense last year, earning the ranking as the country’s No. 5 strongside defensive end by Rivals. He picked the Bulldogs over USC and Miami. Within the last month, Jackson said LSU and Alabama have let him know a scholarship is available if he changes his mind, but he said he is Georgia-bound.

Georgia signed 24 players last year, including Cedar Grove’s Xavier Avery, who opted for professional baseball over football.

– Courtesy of AJC.com