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

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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

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

Misc. Notes From Practice

Backup quarterback Joe Cox (elbow) returned to practice. … Among players in green non-contact jerseys: Defensive end Rod Battle (hamstring), cornerback Prince Miller (shoulder) and receiver Walter Hill (hand). Ends Jeremy Lomax (turf toe) ran on the side. … Strongside linebacker Akeem Dent wore tape on his chin after practice. “I got nicked up, nothing major,” he said.

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

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.”

Georgia Keeping Its Options Open For Left Tackle

Georgia isn’t ruling anything out in its quest to replace left offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Monday’s scrimmage.

The Bulldogs took a look at a number of different combinations in practice on Tuesday, and coach Mark Richt said it’s too early to say which way they might go. The good news for the Bulldogs is that they’ve recruited well enough up front to have options.

Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels thought he had a tough job last year when he was trying to get three freshmen ready to play. A year later, he has to make it through the season without his best lineman.

– Courtesy of ESPN.com