Georgia notes: Edwards loses starting job

ATHENS, Ga. — Plagued by dropped passes, including two last week against Kentucky, <b>Terrence Edwards</b> has lost his starting job for Saturday's game against Florida.

Georgia receivers coach John Eason said Tuesday that LaBrone Mitchell will start at Edwards' "Z'' receiver position against Florida.

Asked how long the change in the starting lineup will last, Eason said "As long as LaBrone can hold it.''

Added Eason: "Earlier in the year, we were trying to come up with plays for Terrence. We didn't get the results. .... In this game, you can't go on what you did in the past.''

If Georgia opens with three receivers, Mitchell, Damien Gary and Fred Gibson will be the starters. Gibson has taken the lead in the "X'' receiver position, and last week the freshman caught nine passes for a school-record 201 yards, including two touchdown catches.

"Fred has responded,'' Eason said. "It's natural for coaches to turn to him.''

Mitchell, a senior, has eight catches for 80 yards this season.

Gary, second on the team with 18 receptions for 259 yards, is the "Y'' receiver.

After his first of two drops against Kentucky, Edwards had to sit and watch the next three series, spending much of the time standing beside Eason. He finished with only two catches for 15 yards in the game.

"(Eason) sat me down and talked to me,'' Edwards said. "He pulled me for the good of the team. ... I haven't played the way I should.''

Edwards still leads the team with 24 catches for 316 yards after catching 53 passes each of the last two years. His 130 career catches rank fourth in school history and his 16 career touchdown catches rank second in Georgia records.

Edwards says he was hurt by the boos he heard from Georgia fans in the Kentucky game.

"They will love you one day and hate you the next,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Coach Mark Richt says his advice to Edwards is "just keep working.''

"You've got to earn the right to be a starter,'' Richt said Tuesday.

"You've got to earn the right to be a great football player here. You can't just show up and expect great things to happen. Every single play, every single day, you've got to focus.''

Richt compared Edwards with former Florida State receiver Peter Warrick, who also struggled with dropped passes before "he finally decided I'm going to be great,'' Richt said.

"Terrence is moving along in that direction. We're happy with what he's doing in trying to put himself in position to be a great player. He's not there yet, but he can be.''

Family feud for Flemings
There will be split loyalties in the Panama City, Fla., Fleming household Saturday. Georgia senior linebacker Ryan Fleming and Florida sophomore linebacker Reid Fleming are brothers who will be playing against each other for the last time.

"I talked to him (Monday) night,'' Fleming said. "He was going over his playbook. I just laughed at him.''

Ryan said the brothers never had serious plans to attend the same school.

"We both wanted to do our best and go somewhere we would be happy,'' he said. "We felt we both had really good opportunities. It came down to where we fit in the best.''

Ryan has four tackles in three games. He missed time early in the season with a knee injury.

Reid has seven tackles in five games for Florida.

Another close call for Spurrier
Gibson is not the only recruit who chose Georgia over Florida in a close call. Josh Mallard of Savannah says that on signing day, "I had both scholarships in front of me and I pretty much closed my eyes and picked one.''

The reaction from Florida coach Steve Spurrier?

"He's a good recruiter, I'll put it like that,'' Mallard said. "He doesn't like taking no for an answer.''

On Monday, Gibson said Spurrier last year was "very suspicious'' after Gibson signed with Georgia, asking if Gibson received "any special benefits'' from Georgia.

The ultimate respect
Richt on Tuesday paid Spurrier the ultimate compliment, from one offensive coach to another.

"I've probably copied more plays from him than anybody,'' Richt said. "It helped us win over the years when I was at Florida State. He's just an outstanding coach.''

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


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