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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday Practice Notes (10/28)

Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said injured linebacker Dannell Ellerbe fully participated in Tuesday's practice and should be able to play this week against Florida.

"The thing that was awesome was to see him out there going full speed," Martinez said. "He has definitely improved since the Alabama game, and he went all day (Tuesday), so that's a good sign. He feels really comfortable."

Ellerbe has missed the past three games since hurting his knee against Alabama, and sophomore Darryl Gamble has filled in nicely in his absence, earning SEC defensive player of the week honors this week.

After Gamble's big game, he got a call from Ellerbe on the bus ride to the airport. Gamble said he couldn't comment on most of the conversation, but admitted Ellerbe was a little down after missing the game.

"He was saying a little bit about how he wished that was him, but I said you'll have your opportunity in the future," Gamble said.

If Ellerbe does play this week, it still hasn't been decided who will get the starting nod at middle linebacker, but Gamble said he's happy to play wherever the coaches need him.

As for Ellerbe, Martinez said the Bulldogs will be happy just to have him back on the field in any capacity.

"We're going to play him if he's ready to go," Martinez said. "We'll take 90 percent because he's a playmaker. If he continues to practice like he practiced (Tuesday), he'll be ready to go Saturday."

-- It had been a rough season for Bryan Evans at cornerback, but after losing his starting job and dropping to third on the depth chart, he has found a second chance at a new position.

Evans was beaten for two touchdowns against Vanderbilt two weeks ago and hasn't seen much action at corner since. Coaches decided to give him a shot at playing free safety, however, and he's jumped at the opportunity.

"It's pretty fun," Evans said. "After I started doing it, I kind of got attracted to it."

Evans still played some corner against LSU, but also got his first taste of action at safety, too. He said the new position has given him a better perspective on the game.

"I think it kind of helps me out to read plays better," Evans said. "At wide corner, you're looking at just your man, you can't really see the field. When you get to see the field, you get to put pieces together, and it helps you make plays."

The experiment has worked well so far, Martinez said, and it's likely to continue.

"He gives us depth and I thought he really played well at corner when he played corner," Martinez said. "We're training him at both right now and he'll be ready to play both."

-- Fred Munzenmaier isn't exactly a household name, even among Georgia fans, but after garnering his second touchdown on just his second career carry last week, the fullback said he might start gaining a reputation as a big-time playmaker.

"Maybe there's a little bit of magic there," Munzenmaier said. "Maybe if I get one more on the next one I'll think there's something to that. I got a little nervous though. It was kind of a close call Saturday. I wasn't all the way in there. Just enough."

Munzenmaier's score came from the 1-yard line on a wham formation by the Bulldogs that included three fullbacks. Senior Brannan Southerland was forced to play tight end due to a rash of injuries at that position, and sophomore Shaun Chapas acted as the lead blocker.

That role might have been a little salt in the wound for Chapas, who started the first six games of the season at fullback, but is now the only one of the three without a touchdown.

"I try not to (tease him), but one comment slipped out," Munzenmaier said. "I try not to make fun of him though because I'm rooting for him to get in there, too."

-- Two months after tearing his ACL in Georgia's opener, Jeff Owens is finally back on his feet.

Owens ditched his crutches last week and is back to walking under his own power even if he's still moving a bit gingerly.

"The knee's doing real fine," Owens said. "I'm off the crutches, I'm finally walking, so it's a big step in the rehab. Now I'm trying to get my strength back in my quad and my leg. It's coming along real well."

Owens isn't exactly celebrating his health, and he would definitely rather be on the field this week against Florida, he said. Instead, he'll just be rooting on his teammates in his typical jovial style.

"The first week I missed was the hardest, but I got used to it," Owens said. "Now I'm just a big cheerleader. I need to go get some pom-poms to cheer on my team."

-- Mark Richt doesn't mind admitting he's impressed by Florida coach Urban Meyer's offensive strategy. In fact, Richt admitted to watching some tape of Meyer's past teams to see if there was any plays the Bulldogs might be able to implement on offense, too.

"I've studied what Coach Meyer has done a lot," Richt said. "Probably studied Utah more than Florida. We studied Florida to try to defend Florida. When we studied Utah we were contemplating implementing some of those things."

That doesn't mean fans should expect Georgia to line up in a spread formation when the Bulldogs hit the field against Florida on Saturday. Innovative offensive schemes are great, but they only work when they match the personnel on the team.

"For us, just a pure spread is not what we think is in our best interest," Richt said. "We are trying to maximize the players that we have."

-- Saturday, Gamble had the biggest game of his life. Monday, he was an instant star around campus. So how has life changed since he returned two interceptions for touchdowns against LSU?

"It's been a lot more hectic. A lot more people know who I am when I'm walking to class and stuff. I guess it's more of being a Knowshon around campus."

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