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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Practice Notes (10/29)

It has been a long five weeks for Georgia tight end Tripp Chandler. The senior injured his shoulder Sept. 27 against Alabama and hasn't returned to action since.

With each passing game, he said he's scratched another opportunity to make a final impact for Georgia off the schedule, but this week's game means a little more than most.

"It's the last time I'll ever get to play against Florida," Chandler said. "It's definitely going to be a big game like it always is, but I think it adds a little bit more incentive to be a part of it when you know it's your last one."

Head coach Mark Richt said Wednesday that, barring a setback, Chandler would be on the trip to Jacksonville for the Bulldogs game against the Gators this Saturday, and Chandler said his shoulder is starting to feel better.

"Shoulder feels good, feels strong," Chandler said. "I'm just trying to work hard every day and get back into it. It's hard when you're out for a little while."

Like his fellow tight end Bruce Figgins, who is playing through a torn labrum in his shoulder, Chandler is wearing a harness to protect the shoulder while the injury heals. He said his movement still isn't 100 percent, but it is improving every day.

"It puts a little strain on a lot of different areas trying to catch a ball and put your hands up," Chandler said. "I'm just trying to get used to it now."

-- It was a big play at the time when LSU ran a fake punt last week that completely caught Georgia by surprise, but Richt isn't punishing his team for the mishap this week.

In fact, he's taking the blame himself.

"I should have had our defense on the field in that situation, playing a punt safe," Richt said. "It was fourth-and-4, the score as it was, almost mid-field. It was a perfect time to fake."

The fake worked for LSU, who picked up a first down and eventually scored on the drive, but Richt said the Tigers probably wouldn't have even run the play if he had been paying attention to the situation.

"Most people have a check and if you're in a certain look you'll run it, or if you're in a certain look you'll punt it," he said. "We should have had our defense in the game."

-- After the loss to Alabama, many Bulldogs admitted the team had lost focus before kickoff because of all the hype that surrounded the contest. It was a game between two top-10 teams, it was the "Blackout," Georgia had a shot at taking over the No. 1 ranking, "GameDay" was in Athens... it all added up to a lot of distractions.

Now on the verge of their next uber-hyped game, Rennie Curran said there's no chance of Georgia having a repeat performance. Those memories from the Alabama loss are still a bit too vivid.

"It's impossible to look at Alabama and what we came from and get caught up in the hype again," Curran said. "We really matured as a team since that experience and just the leadership has improved. We have no reason to get caught up in the hype. We just focus on getting in the film room and preparing for whatever they might throw at us and what could happen if we win this game."

-- Coming off a 52-point scoring barrage and three straight games with at least 425 yards of offense, it seems as though the Bulldogs are finally hitting their stride. The key to the success, fullback Brannan Southerland said, has been getting everyone involved.

"We're really starting to see it's kind of like last year," Southerland said. "Our offense, everyone got experience, everyone was confident and playing great. Right now, you've got a lot of different people catching the ball, you've got a lot of different people blocking, receivers blocking, different tailbacks getting the ball we're really spreading the ball around and I think that's really having a great effect on the team, and defenses just don't know who to guard because everyone's touching the ball."

-- Among the many offensive weapons hitting their stride for Georgia is tailback Knowshon Moreno, who has racked up 436 yards on the ground in his past three games.

While Moreno had some solid performances early in the year, Richt said there are to major reasons for his hot streak of late. The first is the improved play of the offensive line, he said. The second is that Moreno is finally in shape after spending nearly the entire preseason in a green non-contact jersey.

"He had a good offseason, but he really didn't get the work in camp like we're used to him getting," Richt said. "He banged up his knee, we were very careful with how much we were using him, and he just didn't get the reps in camp that he probably needed to hit the ground running."

-- And one last interesting observation from Willie Martinez on how you defend Florida:

"I look at Florida as an option offense. You defend the option, you've got to defend from the inside out. It starts with the tailback, it starts with the quarterback. They make a lot of plays on the outside, but a lot of their big plays have been inside off the zone read, the inside zone play so they'll be a big part of it."


Anonymous said...

David, as always outstanding work.

I noticed Rennie mentioned watching film. This is now the 3rd time or so recently that I've read the player mention watching film in preparation. Once for UT and the other for Vandy (I think) and both times after the game, they mentioned knowing what the team was going to run based on formation and such. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall from the Bama game that some of the players said they were a little surprised at what Bama was running (implying maybe that they hadn't studied as much film).

Of course, I assume that the players have been watching film in preparation for every game, but it seems like there is a new focus or may a new way of using it in preparation? Any thoughts or am I just off base?

David Hale said...

I think you're exactly right. Jeremy Lomax actually told me after the Alabama game that the team had not put the proper time in in the film room and that they were making that a focal point. And as Darryl Gamble said last week, nothing LSU ran really surprised them (except, I assume, the fake punt). So yeah, I think there's a good reason to think the Dawgs are coming into games far more prepared now than they had before the Bama game.