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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Notes (10/12)

It's confirmed. Vince Vance will miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear. Head coach Mark Richt said Vance also has an injured MCL, but that would not require surgery.

"Vince definitely will have ACL reconstructive surgery. The MCL could repair itself," Richt said. "Ron (Courson) feels very confident he'll be ready to play next season."

At tight end, the Bulldogs got better news. Bruce Figgins felt good after the game Saturday in which he split time with Aron White, and after meeting with team doctors today, he decided he would play out the season rather than undergo surgery now and accept a medical redshirt.

"Bruce is going to play. Bruce got done speaking with Coach Lilly and Ron Courson earlier, and he feels like he went through that game and felt outstanding," Richt said. "For him to feel as good as he feels and not play, the bottom line is he told Coach Lilly he wants to play."

Figgins' availability has a ripple effect on the offensive line. Because he will be able to play the rest of the season, and Aron White turned in a decent effort against Tennessee, Richt said Kiante Tripp will be moved back to the offensive line after being switched to tight end three weeks ago.

"We have not talked to him yet, but we're leaning toward moving him back to tackle right now," Richt said, "especially with Bruce going, Aron White grew up a little bit, and Tripp Chandler, he's not going to play this week, but we're hoping LSU, and if not LSU, then Florida, so he's not too far away. We might be back to three tight ends, and Kiante's just going to be more valuable to the team at tackles right now."

Richt also added that Brannan Southerland could play some tight end as well until Chandler returns.

More importantly, Richt said, he feels bad for Vance, who joins Charles White, Jeff Owens and Trinton Sturdivant among Georgia's players who have suffered season-ending injuries.

"It's a nightmare because these young men work so hard to get in position to play," Richt said. "There's just so much work that goes into it. Guys that do all the mat drills, the running and lifting, all of camp, then all of a sudden it's over. It's just sad for those kids. After that, you just start looking at your team and how much pressure it puts on everybody else. Clint did a good job of stepping in. I'm not exactly sure that's how it's going to line up, but we've just got less guys that are ready to play for us right now, but I think it's good that it's the time of year that the weather starts to cool down and it makes it easier for a lineman to make it through the whole game without having to be substituted for."

-- As to how the O line might look this week against Vandy, that's still up in the air.

"The question is where everybody ends up because it has been a little bit of musical chairs," Richt said.

The most likely scenario is that the Dawgs start the Vandy game the way they ended the Tennessee game, though Richt said Chris Davis and Cordy Glenn could swap sides.

"We do believe Cordy can also play tackle, but I think right now we're leaning toward Clint playing left tackle and wherever the two guards play, I think that could flip again, but I think we've got them where we need them right now," Richt said.

-- Richt said he didn't consider Saturday's win the perfect effort -- pointing to the missed opportunities in the red zone -- but said that actually provides some encouragement for the team going forward.

"It is something to be able to talk to the team about and say, Look, we're 5-1, we're in the thick of this thing, and we still haven't really played a complete game.' No one is going to play a perfect game, but we certainly haven't put it all together yet. If we continue to move in that direction, you just don't know what's going to happen to you."

-- The tight ends didn't see much action in the passing game against Tennessee. Neither Figgins nor White was targeted in the passing game, but that was a consequence of the many question marks coming into the game.

"I think a lot of it has just had to do with our injury situation and playing with some guys who haven't had a lot of experience," Richt said. "Bruce, we weren't sure how he was going to hold up. There were a lot of question marks. Now that Bruce made it through this game and feels good, and Aron has more confidence, they might get back involved a little bit more. There were just so many question marks, it wasn't a position we wanted to build a big game plan around."

Richt said Aron White did a decent job in the blocking game, too.

"Aron did very well," Richt said. "It wasn't like he was a dominating, knock- em-down, roll-them-off-the-ball kind of guy, but he did a nice job of knowing what to do and fighting. If you know what to do and you're fundamentally sound and you're putting your hat where it belongs and your pad levels low enough and you just scrap, you can get the job done. There were a couple times he got overwhelmed a little bit, but for the most part I thought he did good. Our coaches were pleased."

-- Matthew Stafford had his first career 300-yard game Saturday. Despite his two red-zone INTs, Richt said it may have been the best game of Stafford's career.

"Our quarterback, I felt he played his best game, especially in regard to standing in that pocket and making some outstanding throws with some guys bearing down on him," Richt said. "He did a very nice job of throwing to his checkdowns and outlets. I thought overall it was his best decision making game. I thought it was an outstanding game."

-- Saturday's Dawg Walk got started early because the team did not spend any time at the Butts-Mehre athletics building beforehand. Richt said the rationale was that he wanted the team to treat the game more like a road game, and that the scenario would continue for the foreseeable future.

"We've had such a good road record, and our road record is really better than our home record," Richt said. "I thought that at home there are a few more distractions, so I wanted to simulate and treat it like an away game as far as our travel. When you go right from the hotel to the stadium, put your pads on, warm up and go, there's not a lot of time to lose your focus, and I think we were spending too much time in our Butts-Mehre building, so I wanted to make sure we kept that great focus from the hotel to the ballgame."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

David, awesome job on the blog. Any guess as to why Tripp isn't automatic choice for LT (or anyone)? I know Boling is essentially the 2nd best lineman we have after Sturdivant, but I thought the coaches said Boling just plays more comfortably at guard. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This may seem somewhat trivial, but I am pleased that Coach Richt acknowleged our home vs. road record results. After the Bama game, it had to be clear to him that our team (coaches and players) were clearly getting distracted by who knows what - family stuff, girlfriends, "can you get me tickets" friends, media, etc., etc. For these and other reasons, we tend to play less focused at home, at times.

I'm certain CMR always knew the record comparison, but I'm glad to see another example of him maturing as a coach and a manager. Subtle changes, such as this one, can lead to big results.

David Hale said...

To respond to both questions:

-- Coaches haven't said so publicly, but I think all indications are that Tripp has really struggled at tackle in his time there. Why else would he have been benched and subsequently moved to TE? I can't say that I like how all this has been handled though. Tripp clearly has the physical skills, but he's been shifted around so much, I wonder if he just hasn't had a chance to get comfortable somewhere. In any case, I think the Dawgs are best served with Boling at LT given all the injuries and perhaps Tripp sneaks back into the lineup down the road.

-- Agree completely about the home/road splits. I was just talking today with another writer that it seems like Georgia has plenty of excitement for games but can at times struggle to focus that energy and turn it into success. I think Richt realizes that, too, and that is the reason for the change in the pregame agenda.

Carter said...

Nice work, as usual, Hale.

From the medical knowledge I have gained from watching the Lethal Weapon series, it will probably only be a matter of time until Figgins shoulder pops out again. So I hope luck is on his side.

Is Vance ineligible for a medical redshirt?

I hate Neil Callaway more than ever.

David Hale said...

Hahaha... great Lethan Weapon reference!

I do not think Vance is eligible for a medical redshirt as he has played in every game thus far. The rule is a player cannot have played in more than (I think) 60% of the first half of his games. Figgins was eligible because he did not play against Georgia Southern or Alabama.

the anonymous suckup said...

Vance isn't eligible for a redshirt of any kind (medical or otherwise), because he redshirted in junior college. That is why he arrived at UGA with three years of eligibility left.