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

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

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

Dawgs Go Swimming

Coach Richt Takes A Dive For His Team

Coach Richt Takes A Dive For His Team

Ramsey Student Center lifeguard Alexander Hope received a phone call Tuesday night asking if he would come in early Wednesday for an extra shift. It turned out to be the Georgia senior’s most stressful day during his one-year on the job.

The Bulldogs blew off their morning practice and instead headed to the high dives at the Ramsey Center pool for the second year in a row. They players took turns jumping, cannonballing, flopping and flipping from anywhere between the baby board at 3 feet to the high dive at 33 feet.

“I was seriously terrified that Matthew Stafford was going to break his back … trying to do a back flip,” Hope said. “If one of those guys got hurt while I was guarding, I would never forgive myself. None of my friends would ever forgive me.”

The gray skies and rainfall ruined coach Mark Richt’s plans for making the team dress in full pads and surprising them with the fun day.

“When the weather hit like it did, I had them convinced we were going to come over here and do a walkthrough like we normally do on a rain day,” he said. “So we got in there and stretched a little bit and I told everyone to get nice and flexible so they don’t pull a hamstring off the high dive.”

Richt dived backward twice himself off the high dive.

“I thought I hit them pretty good,” Richt said. “I don’t know if I was truly vertical. I don’t know how big the splash was at the end. We’re trying to minimize splashes.”

The coach mostly acted as cheerleader, though. He stood beside freshman Bacarri Rambo as the cornerback got on all fours to peer over the ledge of the 33-foot high dive. He backed away, but after some encouragement from both Richt and his teammates, he took the plunge.

The team was having so much fun that Teresa Piper, assistant director for aquatics, had to shout into a microphone at the players to jump only one at a time.

After about 45 minutes, Richt wrapped up the morning by thanking the Ramsey Center.

“Thank you lifeguards and God Bless America,” he said.

– 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