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October 14, 2007

Dawgs down to one RB

ATLANTA -- Georgia's still alive in the Southeastern Conference race, though Kregg Lumpkin may have taken his final handoff for the Bulldogs.

The injury plagued senior sustained a serious knee injury in Georgia's 20-17 victory over Vanderbilt, coach Mark Richt said Sunday.

"He may or may not finish the season," Richt said. "He's got a significant injury to the knee. He's not going to play anytime soon."

The No. 21 Bulldogs, who moved up three spots in the latest Associated Press poll, already lost Thomas Brown for at least four weeks, leaving redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno as the main option at running back.

Moreno rushed for 157 yards in his first career start, 123 of those coming in the second half against the Commodores.

Lumpkin, who went out in the third quarter, may need arthroscopic surgery to clean out some damaged cartilage, but the medical staff won't be sure until the inflammation settles down a bit. He also sustained a high ankle sprain on the same play, further damaging any hopes of a speedier comeback.

This is nothing new for Lumpkin. After a promising freshman year, he tore up a knee on the first day of fall practice in 2004, forcing him to take a redshirt. He returned to lead the Bulldogs in rushing last season with 798 yards and six touchdowns, but sustained another setback in this year's opener against Oklahoma State.

Just three carries into the season, Lumpkin went out with a broken thumb. He missed two games and had to wear a special pad on his hand when he returned. His carries figured to increase in the coming weeks as Brown recovered from a broken collarbone, but another knee injury thwarted those plans.

Having already played in five games, Lumpkin has no chance of gaining a sixth year of eligibility. He's only got nine carries for 37 yards, hardly the way he wanted to end his college career.

The Bulldogs are off this week, providing a glimmer of hope that Brown might be available to take a few carries in the next game, a must-win contest against rival Florida on Oct. 27. Otherwise, Moreno would likely have to carry the load, as he did in the second half against the Commodores.

"I'm sure he's tired. I'm sure he's beat up," Richt said. "The time off will be a blessing for him, as it will for rest of the team."

Moreno leads Georgia with 619 yards, averaging 5.2 a carry, but the team will spend the next two weeks trying to get someone ready to back him up. Jason Johnson is a senior but has only three career carries. Redshirt freshman Shaun Chapas has rushed eight times for 24 yards. Freshman Kalvin Daniels will move over from the scout team to prepare for possible duty.

"Kalvin will probably come over with the offensive first and second units, work with them to make sure he's ready when the time comes," Richt said.

The Bulldogs (5-2, 3-2 SEC) preserved their hopes in the East Division, though they face a brutally tough stretch run: No. 14 Florida, No. 8 Kentucky and No. 18 Auburn. Georgia was 10 points down to Vanderbilt at halftime, but rallied to win on Brandon Coutu's last-second field goal.

Afterward, the Bulldogs celebrated on Vanderbilt's logo in the center of the field. Richt apologized to Commodores coach Bobby Johnson afterward and admonished his players in the locker room to refrain from those sort of displays in the future.

"I don't think that's the right thing to do at the end of a ballgame," Richt said. "Should we have been celebrating? Absolutely. But not in a way that incites people's emotions like that."

He also disputed reports that said had him getting into an argument with Johnson after the game.

"There was nothing like that at all," Richt said. "I just said, 'Coach, I'm sorry my guys did that.' He said, 'Coach, don't worry about it."



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