September 12, 2011

Who steps up at LB now?



Another week, another week of deciding who's going to replace a starting middle linebacker.

It's not the position Georgia defensive coaches hoped to find themselves in, even going into this week's game against Coastal Carolina.

But that's just the situation the Bulldogs face.

Last week, it was sophomore Alec Ogletree who broke a bone in his foot against Boise State and will at least the next three games.

Saturday, it was starting Mike linebacker Christian Robinson who injured his foot, an injury that will keep him out of the lineup for at least two weeks.

"We're trying to fight through it. We're doing pretty well," freshman Amarlo Herrera said after practice Monday. We've still got the same linebackers, it's just more people are going to start getting reps."

For example, along with junior Mike Gilliard and senior walk-on Jeremy Sulek, Tuesday walk-on Kosta Vavlas began receiving reps, along with freshman Ramik Wilson, who has temporarily moved over from the outside.

"They're still trying to figure out where I can help the team," Wilson said. "Once they find that spot, we'll go from there."

Sunday, head coach Mark Richt suggested that redshirt sophomore Chase Vasser might also get a look, but according to Herrera, Vasser did not receive any inside reps Monday.

Regardless, somebody's going to have to step up for the Bulldogs at the positions for at least the next two games.

"Coach Grantham told us today, that is part of football and that's why it is so important for the backup guys to know their stuff," said Gilliard, who is expected to take over Robinson's starting position at Mike.

But that's not all.

As the "quarterback of the defense" Gilliard will also have to assume the role of defensive play-caller in Robinson's stead.

"That's one thing I'm going to try to do. Today, Coach Grantham got the defense together to make sure we all knew the calls, Gilliard said. "As a defense, we're trying to teach the whole defense the calls, but today it was me."

Cornerback Brandon Boykin said he's confident the newcomers will hold their own.

"They're all playmakers, regardless of who you put in there. Coaches are going to do a good job getting them ready to play," he said. "We all have trust in them. We know as long as we give them an assignment, we've got their backs, they'll l be able to do the things they need to do."

Boykin hopes to see more offensive reps

On Monday, Boykin learned that he made the honor role for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the most versatile in college football.

If he has his way, he'll get even more chances to prove his case.

"I feel I can do whatever they ask, catch the ball or run. I think Coach (Mark) Richt has that confidence in me, and Coach (Mike) Bobo, too," Boykin said. "Maybe next week or whenever they will put some more stuff in."

After scoring on an 80-yard touchdown run against Boise State, Boykin tallied two rushes for 14 yards against South Carolina, although he figures he lined up in the backfield "as many as eight times."

Figgins pleased with his fullback gig is going

Senior Bruce Figgins said he's had no complaints since moving from tight end to fullback.

After not touching the ball against Boise State, Figgins caught three passes for 36 yards against the Gamecocks.

"It's been going well," he said. "I feel like I'm getting better each and every week. I've been getting a lot of support from Coach Mac (Bryan McClendon) and Coach Bobo, my teammates … everybody has been patient with me and taking me through the steps."

Although his role is primarily as a blocker, the Bulldogs did get Figgins into the offensive game-plan last week, throwing him three passes in the flats which he used to convert into 36 yards.

"If I can get the ball in the flats, I like that," said Figgins. "I'm good. It's all good."

This and that

Freshman Isaiah Crowell was named co-SEC Freshman of the Week following his performance against South Carolina. He shared the honor with Kentucky running back Josh Clemons. … Kickoff for next week's game at Ole Miss has been set for 12:21 p.m. The game will be televised on SEC-TV. … The Bulldogs went through their typical Monday practice, working out for almost an hour at the team's Woodruff Practice Facility. ""We don't do a whole lot on Mondays from a physical nature," Richt said. "It's 50 minutes, it's in shorts. We spend half the time on our kicking game and half the time working on offense and defense. We do get a good lift in and we get some good running in to get the lactic acid out. We cover, in our meetings, the last ball game and begin to install for the game this week." … Captains for Saturday will be center Ben Jones and fullback Bruce Figgins on offense, Boykin on defense, and tight end Orson Charles on special teams. … Herrera said it took him a while to realize he was actually starting his first career game last week against South Carolina. It was unbelievable … the moment they showed me up on the screen - it's still crazy," he said.

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.