Missouri Week: Tuesday's Rundown

ATHENS - Georgia hit the practice field on Tuesday for its second day of preparation for the Tigers.

1. It's all about stopping Missouri this week. The Tigers, like Georgia, are undefeated in the SEC. Missouri has the same goal as Georgia, too, which is winning the SEC East. However, the 5-0 Tigers will have to try and defeat the Dawgs between the hedges at Sanford. Georgia has had a few more conference wins over highly-touted teams like South Carolina, LSU and Tennessee as well. Missouri routed Vanderbilt over the weekend to start conference play, and will look to take advantage of a noon kickoff in Sanford. Mark Richt doesn't expect fans to be any less excited about this weekend's matchup, though.

"I know our fans are looking forward to it, and our players are," Richt said. "We are looking forward to a great crowd. It's a noon kickoff, and historically those have been a little slow starting as far as getting people in the stands."

Once the fans are in their seats, Richt is confident they'll show up to support the Dawgs in this challenging situation. With a few key players inactive, the Dawgs could use the support.

"I know the Bulldog Nation will rally and be there early and be a difference maker for us because we need the help," Richt said. "I'm thankful for our fans and what they've done to this point, and we're looking forward to another great atmosphere at home."

2. Who should fans expect to see out there in place of the missing starters? For one, Richt did throw out a few names that weren't expected by many. Obviously, Reggie Davis is a player you'd hope could step in and get some big catches in place of Justin Scott-Wesley and possibly Michael Bennett, but Richt's response to the question was a little unorthodox to say the least.

"At the receiver position, Michael Erdman is already learning and getting more reps," Richt said. "Michael has been in our program for a while now, and he has a pretty good working knowledge of what we do. He's been working mainly on the scout team, as has Blake Tibbs."

Those are some relatively new names, but Richt says they know what they're doing on the field. Erdman did look good in practice today. He's not the biggest player out there at 5-foot-10, but the senior does have good hands. The advantage is Richt and his staff won't have to teach the two the entire playbook. They'll have to be ready due to the fact Richt doesn't foresee Jonathon Rumph being ready to play by this weekend.

"I think Rumph is still a ways off on his hamstring, unfortunately," Richt said. "He's a guy that was here in the midyear and had a good spring and had a good camp, but he's just been hampered by that injury."

3. Since Todd Gurley is day-to-day, it's only fitting onlookers should be in the know on how he's progressing. He didn't practice Tuesday, but he is making a speedy recovery as far as Ron Courson's concerned.

"He's getting better," Richt said. "He's getting better maybe a little bit more quickly than Ron was thinking initially. It didn't really swell all that bad."

That's one bit of good news for Dawg Nation members who are currently in panic over the extensive list of Georgia injuries. While Gurley is progressing and the swelling is decreasing, the process of getting him back on the field is still a slow one.

"It's one thing to be able to run straight, and it's one thing to be able to change directions, but it's another thing to be able to run the way he runs the ball when you start getting two and three guys trying to knock you back and you're driving through people," Richt said. "You start adding all the resistance of that weight, and that becomes a problem, so we just want to make sure he's really healthy before coming back."

In the mean time, J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas will be the next two backs in line behind Gurley. Each split time with the number ones today, and depending on the situation they should be the go-to guys in the backfield on Saturday.

4. There's still a defense. While a lot of the focus has been placed on the offense, many have forgotten about the defense they questioned so much in weeks leading up to the season-opener at Clemson. That defense is still young, but it's gaining experience with each game it plays. Though it's allowed some high-scoring games, Richt says it's coming along well.

"We knew a lot of freshmen would play this year, and we've had quite a few start on defense," Richt said. "There's a lot of first time starters whether they're freshmen or not. Those guys are learning as they go. When you learn you make mistakes. You hope they make those mistakes in practice, but that's not always how life goes."

Those in-game mistakes have often times led to breakdowns and even touchdowns, but Richt doesn't get too caught up in the numbers.

"We're a work in progress still. We're winning as a team right now," Richt said. "We don't care about the stats. I'd much rather have a defense or an offense make the play at the moment of truth. It doesn't matter what your stats are. The goal is to win and move on."

The defense isn't injury-free, though. One area that gained a lot of attention in the preseason was the secondary. Currently, Connor Norman is practicing in a green non-contact jersey while freshman Tray Matthews didn't practice today. Richt didn't expect Matthews to practice today anyway, so that wasn't a shock.

5. Georgia's defense is no stranger to containing mobile quarterbacks, which is what Missouri's James Franklin is. The 6-foot-2 senior is averaging 55.6 yards per game with two touchdowns on the ground. Georgia has already faced similar quarterbacks in terms of playing style in Tahj Boyd and Connor Shaw, and this week should be no different.

"He's the same type of guy; he can make plays happen with his feet," Garrison Smith said. "He's just a guy you've got to account for. He's talented and has got great athletes around him so it's going to be a challenge."

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