Cory Phillips adjusts to backup role

ATHENS, Ga. — One year ago, <b> Cory Phillips</b> and <b> Jared Lorenzen</b> combined to pass for 928 yards and six touchdowns in one afternoon.

Watching the quarterbacks trade big throws in Georgia's 34-30 win over Kentucky last year in Lexington, Ky., it was easy to imagine Phillips and Lorenzen enjoying many more big days as starting quarterbacks.

At the midpoint of this season, Phillips and Lorenzen have combined to pass for only 400 yards and three touchdowns. Each lost starting jobs to redshirt freshmen, though Lorenzen will be back in the starting lineup for Kentucky in Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game at Georgia.

At Kentucky, the quarterback position has been a source of debate for a second straight year.

Last year, former coach Hal Mumme was widely criticized for encouraging Dusty Bonner to transfer to Valdosta State to make room for Lorenzen even though Bonner led the SEC in passing in 1999.

This year, new coach Guy Morriss benched Lorenzen — last year's SEC leader in total offense and passing yards — the last five games to make room for Shane Boyd.

After Tuesday's practice, Morriss announced that Lorenzen — who now carries 275 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame after playing at about 300 pounds last year — will start against Georgia. Last year, Lorenzen set a Kentucky record by passing for 528 yards in the loss to Georgia, but that was not enough to top Phillips' 400 yards and school record-tying four touchdown passes in his first start.

"It was fun last year,'' Phillips said this week. "It was a good experience, getting the first start. It was a dream come true to get out there and play for Georgia in a starting role at quarterback.''

There has been no controversy at quarterback for Georgia. Even though Phillips, who started four regular-season games and Georgia's Oahu Bowl win last year, was the only returning quarterback with any experience, he was beaten out by redshirt freshman David Greene.

Greene has yet to match the gaudy numbers Phillips posted against Kentucky last year, but while completing 64.2 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and only three interceptions, Greene has put a lock on the starting job. 

Phillips has had to re-adjust to the role of backup he first played behind Quincy Carter in 1999 and the first half of last season. Greene's hold on the job is so firm that Phillips has not played in the last three games.

"It's frustrating in the sense that if you're not frustrated by not playing, you should not be out there,'' Phillips said. "Right now it's not happening. The only thing I can do is to stay prepared.''

Said Greene: "Cory has done a great job of helping me out this year. He's done a great job of handling the thing. We work together and try to make us better.''

Phillips has the empathetic counsel of Coach Mark Richt, who as a college quarterback at Miami spent most of his career waiting for an opportunity to play behind Jim Kelly.

"(Phillips') attitude has been good,'' Richt said. "I think he understands that his role at the moment is he better be prepared in case something happens.''

Added Richt: "It's not a good place to be and I spent my whole career in that place, one play away from being a starter and maybe an eternity away from being a starter. But every week you've got to prepare like that moment might happen. He's done a good job with that.''

Phillips is sharing practice time on the No. 2 offense with freshman D.J. Shockley. While it appears likely that Shockley will be redshirted, Richt still fields frequent questions about the possibility of Shockley playing. 

There are not many questions about Phillips' playing time.

"I was hoping one day to start and it happened,'' Phillips said. "I was hoping to continue starting but we had a good quarterback battle and David came out on top. I think it was good, it helped the quarterback position here.''

Added Phillips: "I think I'm a better quarterback than last year, but I think everybody is better.''

NOTE: Freshman defensive tackle Gerald Anderson is expected to miss at least four to six weeks with a severe ankle sprain he suffered in Tuesday's practice, Richt said Wednesday. Georgia may pursue a medical redshirt year for Anderson, who has played in only two games. ... Richt said defense dominated Wednesday's practice, including the second-team defense against the No. 1 offense. "That's kind of scary,'' Richt said. ... Receiver Damien Gary was slowed Wednesday and in last Saturday's game at Vanderbilt by back spasms.

Charles Odum can be reached at CEOdum@aol.com.


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