Cooper ready to go against the Tide

ATHENS -- Running back Michael Cooper returned to practice Wednesday and declared himself nearly 100 percent healthy.

ATHENS -- Running back Michael Cooper returned to practice Wednesday and declared himself nearly 100 percent healthy.

"I'll play," said Cooper, who missed the last four days due to a slightly sprained MCL in his left knee. "I feel like I've done what's been asked of me. It's up to (the coaches) if I start or not."

Cooper started the last two games in place of the injured Tony Milton and is Georgia's leading rusher with 290 yards on 49 carries. Milton is back at practice this week, and running backs coach Ken Rucker said Wednesday he expects Milton to start as Coach Mark Richt said Tuesday.

Milton and Tyson Browning split the first-team reps and Cooper and true freshman Kregg Lumpkin split the second-team reps Wednesday, Rucker said.

Wide receiver Fred Gibson (hamstring), tight end Ben Watson (ankle) and linebacker Tony Taylor (ankle) definitely will play, Richt said.

BRODIE'S BACK: Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle returned to limited duty in Wednesday's practice, but his status for Saturday's game is still uncertain due an injured shoulder on his non-throwing arm.

MEMORIES: Alabama coach Mike Shula probably is going through the same things this year that Richt went through his first season as a head coach, and because that was only two seasons ago, Richt can easily empathize.

"I'm sure he's just like I was," Georgia's third-year coach said.

"Things are happening so fast. It's just a flurry of new things coming at you. I was just trying my best to keep my head above water. I was faking my way through the best I could, trying to make it look like I knew what I was doing. It's tough."

Richt said he realized earlier this week what a difference experience can make even in the smallest areas when, during a morning staff meeting, he and his coaches were discussing practice camera placement with video coordinator Joe Tereshinski Jr.

"It took about 25 seconds when, in the beginning, it took 20 minutes," Richt said. "Now, those things don't take as much time."

SIGN OF RESPECT: Alabama running back Shaud Williams rushed for just 44 yards on 10 carries against Georgia last year, but Bulldog defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder still has sour memories of the Crimson Tide senior.

"He's just such a good player, not only is he a very good player physically but it seems to me he has all the intangibles," VanGorder said. "He's just a complete ballplayer."

Williams is second in the SEC in rushing this year with 118.8 yards per game, and he leads the league in scoring with seven rushing touchdowns and a kick return touchdown. Williams' last two rushing touchdowns have averaged 67 yards.

CAPTAINS: Georgia's captains for the Alabama game will be quarterback David Greene (offense), safety Thomas Davis (special teams), safety Sean Jones (defense) and cornerback Bruce Thornton (defense).

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