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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Practice Notes (12/10)

If Georgia assistant head coach Rodney Garner has any inside information on who Auburn is leaning toward hiring to succeed Tommy Tuberville as head coach, he certainly isn't letting anyone else in on the secret.

Garner refused to answer any direct questions about the job Wednesday after he interviewed with the Tigers last weekend, referring only to a statement he released through the school earlier in the week.

"My family and I love Athens and the University of Georgia and are completely happy here," he said in the statement. "I'm sure the process will take its proper course and I don't think it would be appropriate to comment further at this time."

This was the first time Garner had interviewed for a head-coaching job in his career, and he said the process which included a interview before a hiring committee was far more arduous than any he had been through in the past.

"When you're an assistant, you're dealing with the head coach, so it's like night and day," said Garner, who had just returned on a red-eye flight from a Los Angeles recruiting trip earlier in the day Wednesday.

Although he refused to comment on the possibility he would be offered or accept the position, Garner did say the experience was an important step for him.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity," he said. "I feel honored and humbled by it. It was an awesome experience, and I'm very appreciative of the opportunity."

-- Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said Wednesday that cornerback Asher Allen has been playing with a broken hand for more than a month.

Martinez said Allen broke his hand against LSU, and while the junior has stayed on the field, the injury has had an effect on his performance.

"Not being able to catch a ball, not being able to grab and tackle," Martinez said. "We've kind of held that out of the media. He'll have full use of it in the bowl game, but that's pretty hard to do and also play. We've had to be at times conscious of that in certain schemes, what side of the ball he's on."

-- Head coach Mark Richt said as many as 27 players were unable to fully participate in practice Wednesday. While a majority of that group was players who have been battling ongoing injuries, wide receiver A.J. Green, defensive tackle Ricardo Crawford and running back Caleb King are among the new additions to Georgia's M.A.S.H. unit.

Richt said he was unsure of King's injury, while Crawford had a shoulder issue. Neither would require surgery, Richt said, and both players would be available for Georgia's bowl game Jan. 1 against Michigan State.

Green, who leads the SEC in receiving, has battled a nagging groin injury for most of the season, but he re-aggravated it in practice Tuesday, and Richt said Green would likely rest for a while.

"I would be surprised if he practices before we leave for Christmas," Richt said.
Green said the injury was not serious, and he wasn't happy about being relegated to the role of spectator for practice.

"I really like to practice," Green said. "I don't like sitting around doing nothing and being hurt."

-- While Florida will face Oklahoma in the BCS national championship game, that isn't exactly how Richt had it drawn up on his ballot.

Richt, who is a voter for the coaches' top 15, had Florida as his No. 1 team, but voted Alabama second, despite the Crimson Tide's loss to the Gators in the SEC championship game.

"They went undefeated for the entire season," Richt said. "They played a whale of a game against a team that I ended up voting No. 1. They're a one-loss team, Oklahoma's a one-loss team. I thought that they were No. 2."

Alabama will instead play Utah in the Sugar Bowl, but Richt isn't entirely disappointed by the matchup of the SEC and Big 12's champions in the BCS title game.

"I've not seen Oklahoma enough, but for any team to score as many points as they score, it looks like both teams have a chance to win," he said. "When you look at it, both coaches have won national championships, both teams have scored a lot of points."

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