Two days after stating that running back Caleb King would definitely play against South Carolina, head coach Mark Richt softened his stance during a pre-practice press conference Wednesday at the Butts-Mehre Building.
Richt originally told listeners on his weekly call-in show that King had sufficiently healed from his pulled hamstring before offensive coordinator Mike Bobo seemed to pour water on that announcement following practice Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday, Richt agreed.
"We saw him Sunday and for what we asked him to do that day he ran around well. We saw nothing that would make us feel that he wasn't ready then when we got into a full-pad day, the heat of the day, and more periods than we went that night, he fatigued," Richt said. "He did not pull anything, but the hamstring, you know, fatigued a little bit faster than it normally would so we pulled him out at that point. So I would say it's not slam dunk at this point."
But Richt remains hopeful.
Wednesday, King was able to practice with the rest of the running back although that was also the case on Tuesday before fatigue set in and the redshirt sophomore was forced to go back in green (non-contact jersey).
"We'll just monitor him, you know. When I saw him take a rep in the inside drill (Tuesday) versus our scouts I could tell something wasn't right and when I went to see him I asked if this thing was fatiguing and he said 'Yes sir,'" Richt said. "As it turned out Coach (Bryan) McClendon saw the same thing and seconds before I got there he said shut it down. I was going to say the same thing. You've just got to watch those guys."
Richt doesn't doubt that King has been frustrated having suffered the injury the first week of preseason drills.
But even Richt admits he's not sure exactly what King's been thinking.
"He's a very difficult guy to read. He's kind of a straight-faced guy and not really sure what he's feeling. I know he wants to play," Richt said. "He seemed really excited when he thought he was ready to go on Sunday, you could see that in his eyes, but now that he's not certain I'm sure he's a little frustrated with it. But he's got to be patient with those injuries. You get too anxious and you feel like you're going to will your way into it, you've got to be smart."
Richt said King would have certainly been used if he had been able to travel to last week's opener against Oklahoma State.
How much, he could not say, especially since he's still learning how long and how much starter Richard Samuel can go.
"Sometimes it's hard to know when enough is too much. We don't know Richard that well; we don't know how much stamina he has. Some guys can go 20-25 carries, some guys can go 30," Richt said. "Not on a day like that, because it was still relatively hot and humid with the heat index but we're learning how much Richard can take whether you're saying how much carries in a game or how much carries in a row before you make a sub. We're still learning there."
Richt still hasn't ruled out freshman Washaun Ealey seeing action at some point this year.
According to Richt, Ealey's progress has been slowed by the hyper-extended elbow he suffered week 2 of practice, but is still being incorporated into inside drills and special teams.
The same holds true for redshirt freshman Dontavius Jackson.
Jackson has been slowed by injuries thus far in his young career, but like Ealey, is not out of the picture for playing time, either.
"It's just been more of a pecking order thing for him, although he did an excellent job on special team's for us (against Oklahoma State). He did make the Victor's Club for his special teams work so that was encouraging. Anytime you have success out there and a coach can see that, he's more apt to say 'Hey, this guy can handle a game and perform,'" Richt said. "Sometimes a coach might see a guy run real good and say I've got to get him on special teams, other times he'll see a guy do something good on special teams and think he can handle a scrimmage down. Dontavius is definitely moving in the right direction; he's got a great attitude. He's doing well."
Offensive line set
Georgia's starting offensive line is set for Saturday's game against South Carolina.
Senior Vince Vance (6-8, 325) takes over for Trinton Sturdivant (ACL), with Cordy Glenn (6-foot-5, 328), sliding over from right guard to left, Ben Jones (6-3, 300) at center, Justin (Bean) Anderson (6-5, 330) at right guard and Clint Boling (6-5, 305) at right tackle.
The decision means Chris Davis' consecutive games started streak will end at 26.
"One thing is the guys we're playing are big men and Bean's got more girth to him," Richt said. "But Chris, I'm sure will end up playing, but you get two big guards in there against a team that's mostly a 4-3 look, usually they cover your guards and you want to get some big men in there to be able to hold up against them."
As for Sturdivant, Richt said he expects the North Carolina native to have surgery "within a week or two."
Walsh just more consistent
Richt was asked what separated Blair Walsh from Brandon Bogotay in their battle to handle kickoffs for the Bulldogs this fall.
According to Richt, two factors put Walsh on top.
"It was probably the consistency of the hang-time and the accuracy," he said. "But again, it was very close and it wasn't like Bogotay did poorly. They both kicked the ball well enough to win the job. Bogotay's not done by any stretch."
Richt denied that the fact Bogotay was given a scholarship puts any pressure on the coaching staff to make sure he gets on the field.
"We would never play a guy over the other because he got a scholarship or say 'Hey, because he's got a scholarship we have to play him,'" Richt said. "We would never do that."
This and that
UGA associated athletic director Claude Felton confirmed that backup kicker Jamie Lindley is no longer with the team. A former walk-on from Savannah Christian, Lindley saw action in two games for the Bulldogs last year and recorded an onside kick that was recovered by Georgia and made a second kickoff against Alabama. He made his debut in last year's game against South Carolina.
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