08 17 2004 Notebook

ATHENS -- Coach Mark Richt won't divulge how much D.J. Shockley will play this year, but he is heaping praise on his backup quarterback.

"He just seems a lot calmer and more comfortable," Richt said. "He doesn't seem like he's trying to prove something every time he steps out there."

Shockley, a redshirt junior, is entering his fourth season facing the prospect of mostly watching from the bench. He played in six games last year, completing 9 of 21 passes for 88 yards, one touchdown and one interception, before being sidelined by a knee injury. In his two seasons of action, he has completed 41 of 79 passes for 503 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.

Despite those modest numbers and the bleak prospect of extensive playing time behind Heisman Trophy candidate and starter David Greene, Shockley has remained a model citizen in the locker room, Richt said.

"Shockley certainly could have a bad attitude about the situation he is in, but he won't do that," Richt said. "I have the ultimate respect for both (Shockley and Greene). They really do care about each other. They like each other a lot. They might have faked it in the beginning, but you can tell there is a bond now."

Shockley has heard about the Bulldog Nation's excitement that he and Greene might be on the field together this season. That likely would mean having Greene lined up at quarterback and Shockley behind him in the backfield or at wide receiver.

"It's good hearing people want to see you play," he said.

He has also heard that some of the team's fan base would like to see him at stay at an offensive skill position rather than back up Greene.

"People can think what they want. I'm not going to a skill position," he said. "I'm a quarterback."

INJURY UPDATE: Georgia has only suffered one significant injury this fall, the loss of running back Kregg Lumpkin, but the number of bumps and bruises continues to rise. Tuesday it seemed that 15 percent of the team was either in the training room or wearing a green, no-contact jersey.

"It looks like a Christmas tree out here," said wide receiver A.J. Bryant of Peach County, who donned a green jersey due to a thigh bruise and hyperextended knee he suffered Monday.

Bryant hopes to return today.

The situation was so bad at running back that Georgia had to bring Albert Hollis back from safety to running back just to get through practice the next few days. Reserve tailback Michael Cooper missed practice and is considered day-to-day with a bruised Achilles' tendon. That left only starter Danny Ware and Tyson Browning, who practiced despite a thigh bruise, to run the ball in practice.

"A good bit of guys weren't out there so the guys that were left had an awful lot of work to do," said Richt. "I'm proud of what they did.

Defensive end David Pollack was back at practice wearing his regular, full-contact jersey but didn't participate fully and probably won't until early next week, Richt said. The All-American has missed the last three days due to a strained patella tendon his right knee. Defensive tackles Gerald Anderson (shoulder) and Kedric Golston (shoulder) practiced but wore green jerseys.

Running back Thomas Brown and cornerback Tim Jennings returned to the field from hamstring injuries but wore green jerseys and are still very limited.

Offensive guard Josh Brock, who tore scar tissue and is suffering from tendinitis in and around his left shoulder, said he hopes to be ready in time for the Sept. 11 South Carolina game.

"Maybe even before that," he said..

RETURN GAME: Despite all the troubles it caused him last year, Fred Gibson will return kickoffs again this season. Gibson pulled his hamstring returning a late kickoff against Middle Tennessee State last season and missed the LSU game because of it.

He'll go back there again this year along with fellow wide receiver Bryan McClendon as the Bulldogs' first unit, Richt said.

"Hopefully, we won't do a lot of that," Richt said. "If we do, that's not a good thing."

Browning and defensive back Thomas Flowers are expected to be the second-team kickoff return team.

Browning probably will be the team's starting punt returner and could be backed up by Flowers, cornerback Mikey Henderson or wide receiver Sean Bailey.

THIS AND THAT: Richt confirmed this week that junior Lee Jackson will punt against Georgia Southern in place of regular starter Gordon Ely-Kelso, who has been suspended for the season opener. Jackson, the Bulldogs' holder on extra points and field goals, averaged 39.1 yards per punt as a senior at LaGrange High School four years ago. ... Former place-kicker Billy Bennett attended practice Tuesday and visited briefly with the players trying to take his old job.

Dawg Post Top Stories