The season paths for left tackle Vince Vance and tight end Bruce Figgins took two very different turns Sunday.
In regards to Figgins, the news is good as the Columbus native said he felt no ill effects from Saturday's game against Tennessee and will postpone surgery on his torn labrum until after the year.
The news wasn't so good for Vance who will undergo season-ending surgery this week to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. Vance also injured his MCL but head coach Mark Richt said the injury is expected to heal on its own.
With Vance out, sophomore Clint Boling assumes the starting position at left tackle, and becomes the fourth player used at that spot since the start of preseason followingTrinton Sturdivant (torn ACL), Kiante Tripp and now Vance.
"It's a nightmare, first of all for all those young men who worked so hard to get themselves in position to play," Richt said during Sunday's teleconference. "Those guys put in so much work during mat drills, the summer lifting, then for guys like Trinton and Vince to all of a suddenly see it over, it's sad for those kids."
Although Richt could not say for sure, it appears the offensive line that ended Saturday's 26-14 victory over Tennessee will be the one that starts Saturday's 12:30 contest against Vanderbilt.
That means Boling at left tackle, redshirt sophomore Chris Davis at left guard, freshman Ben Jones at center, freshman Cordy Glenn at right guard and redshirt freshman Justin Anderson at right tackle.
"The good thing is that those true freshmen aren't really true freshmen anymore. They're six games into the season, and those sophomores have a year's experience under their belt," Richt said. "I think it bodes well for the future if we can get everybody to come back from these injuries."
Richt said he has every confidence in the world that Boling will handle the move to left tackle well.
"Clint's done a good job stepping up. He knows how to line up, we've just got less guys who are ready," Richt said. "But it's also time for some of these substitutes to step up, guys like Tanner Strickland. Ben Harden isn't ready yet, but Tanner, Josh Davis, those are the other two guys who have played the most and that's kind of where we are right now."
Richt said Tripp will also go back to playing tackle, although he will not completely eschew his new duties at tight end.
"I think that might be what we're going to do, and that's why Kiante is so valuable," Richt said. "Although we haven't told him yet, we probably will move him back to tackle."
Richt added that fullback Brannan Southerland could also start seeing time at tight end when he's not playing fullback with Shaun Chapas.
As for Figgins, Richt said the sophomore made his decision after speaking with tight ends coach John Lilly Sunday afternoon.
"Bruce is going to play. He spoke with Coach Lilly and (trainer) Ron Courson earlier and he said he felt he came through the game fine, he felt outstanding for feeling as good as he feels," Richt said. "I have not spoken to Bruce myself, but he talked to (Lilly) for about 15 minutes. Other than that, (Lilly) said he felt good."
NOTES: Richt he expects starting Mike linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (knee) to be ready for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt, although wide receiver Kris Durham (shoulder) remains doubtful. … Richt is still unsure about tight end Tripp Chandler (shoulder) but hopes he will be back by the end of the month against either LSU or Florida. … Richt said no other players were injured Saturday to the point that they would miss Saturday's game. ... Georgia (5-1, 2-1) moved up one spot to No. 9 in the USA Today/Coaches top 25 poll, but stayed at No. 10 in the Associated Press top 25.