Vandy Week: Monday's Rundown

ATHENS - Following a loss to Missouri, Georgia takes the practice field to prepare for a road test at Vanderbilt.

1. Wouldn't a bye week be nice for Georgia? Mark Richt sure seems to think so. He's had everything from injured players to SEC nail biters over the past few weeks. The win at Tennessee was indeed a win and an overtime win at that, but it cost Georgia, well a lot. The team that took the field against Missouri last weekend wasn't the same team that beat LSU and South Carolina. However, it did consist of a lot of guys who left Knoxville with the win. Monday was the start of Georgia's rebuilding process. Essentially, Georgia has to rebuild the team it started the season at Clemson with. A few players will be added, and obviously Georgia will be without some of them for the remainder of the season. Keith Marshall and Justin Scott-Wesley are out. That's been established. However, key offensive threats Todd Gurley and Michael Bennett are on the mend with Jonathon Rumph making his journey to the field. He practiced Monday while Gurley was limited to running. While Bennett is far from ready to play this week, there's a chance Gurley and Rumph will be. This week is a game week, so Georgia will focus on preparing for another SEC opponent as usual. The Dawgs will also focus on getting past this weekend injury free so it can utilize the upcoming bye week to its advantage.

This week will be business as usual.

"Right now we've got to find a way to get better at blocking and tackling and fundamental things it takes to get a win," Richt said. "We'll be trying to figure out something to get them going. It's been a long haul between open dates and there have been a lot of bumps and bruises along the way."

2. One of the biggest and most talked about bumps was Gurley's ankle injury. In this case, you can never be too careful with a player. That being said, Gurley's an intricate part of this offense and that has showed in the past two weeks. Richt says he won't go until he's fully recovered. That's the only Gurley Richt wants to see take the field.

"What we want is a really healthy Todd Gurley," Richt said. "We want him to be at his best. We don't want him to go in there without being full speed. The goal is to keep rehabbing, change directions and when you get some confidence in that and whenever he looks and feels healthy enough we'll play him."

3. Oh, that young defense. If it's not one thing, it's another concerning the youth of Georgia's defensive unit. This time it's not the lack of talent or experience. The new players have got that now. They've seen plenty of competition this season and came out on top more times than not. Now Richt is asking his defense to force turnovers and get the ball in the offense's hands more. Richt understands that's a lot to ask, but it's the next level for this young defense to strive for.

"I think little by little they begin to get comfortable and little by little they begin to make plays," Richt said. "I think our guys are just trying to get the sack and not think 'while I'm back there I should strip the ball.' I don't know if our guys are really thinking that far ahead of the game. They're just learning and as they go they'll get more comfortable and make plays. Usually it's a more gradual thing."

Not capitalizing on those plays can cause a coach to pull his hair out. It can be coached in the days leading up to the game, but in the end it's all about how the defense responds in the moment.

"It's frustrating, obviously. The two games we lost we lost the turnover ratio," Richt said. "We have got to continue to get serious and work hard with everybody on securing the ball and playing good enough defensively to force bad throws and make the picks. We run drills until we're blue in the face, but we have to make the play in the heat of battle. We've just got to keep teaching that sort of thing."

4. Anything can happen in any given week, especially in the SEC. That's obvious now more than ever. Richt has been asked continuously how he's approaching the situation in the SEC. It goes without saying that he wants to win the East. In fact, it goes without saying because he's not saying anything about it. The only thing on his agenda right now is getting his team ready for this weekend. He's got Vanderbilt to prepare for.

"I'm not going to get much into that with the guys," Richt said. "The best thing we can do right now is try to get ready for Vanderbilt and get a victory. The biggest thing we can do to help ourselves is get ready this week."

5. Shaq Wiggins is a young defender who's gotten increased playing time lately. After Monday's practice, he talked about the progression he's made and the improvements he still hopes to make in the coming weeks.

"With me already being small and the fans and all the people saying I'd be too small to guard so and so, I just kind of take the good and bad all in and look at myself as a football player overall," Wiggins said. "Every football player has something to work on and I have plenty of things to work on. The most important thing is listening to the coaches, and Coach Grantham and Coach Lakatos are going to put you in situations to make plays on the ball."


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