Growing pains at tight end

ATHENS – Georgia's recent legacy with tight ends speaks for itself. But now the Bulldogs are not getting the production they once enjoyed from the position. The two players playing most at tight end are still getting their feet wet.

The tight end spot in Georgia's offense is not a glamour position. But Leonard Pope and Martrez Milner, the who have split starts this season, have not produced a much as Mark Richt has wanted. Larry Brown, Jermaine Wiggins, Randy McMichael, and Ben Watson all played big roles in Bulldog offenses of the past.

"They haven't played as well as they have practiced," said Georgia head coach Mark Richt. "They had a great fall camp. I was kind of getting my hopes up, but I think it's growing pains. They are talented guys, but now we have an injury with Martrez. I hope Martrez is well enough to play. He would probably be pretty questionable to play this week – we are hopeful."

Milner will likely be back for the Vanderbilt game, but has struggled at times this season capitalizing on passes thrown his way. Against South Carolina the Gainesville native dropped what appeared to be a touchdown pass. He struggled against Marshall, too.

But Milner, who was replaced as starter earlier this season, has continued to play as much as Pope. The sophomore tight end has not taken total control of the position and therefore the two continue to share time.

"I think Leonard is going to come around," said Richt. "Leonard had some balls thrown to him that were high, even for him (against Tennessee). They went off his hands. They were probably catchable – but difficult catches."

Pope come up short at the end of the game on Georgia's frantic attempted game-winning drive against Tennessee.

"We were just trying to get it in play where Leonard had a chance to get it. At that moment about all you can do is put it up for grabs. David Greene was figuring on Leonard staying on his land mark, but Leonard bent it inside a defender," Richt said.

The play failed and the Bulldogs lost. But earlier in the game Pope was flagged for a holding foul on Bryan McClendon's near-touchdown kickoff return against the Volunteers. Had the Bulldogs scored from the two-yard line, where McClendon was tripped up, they would have won the game.

Richt said Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday that he was not willing to speculate on the legitimacy of the holding call, but admitted it was questionable.

"I don't want to get into that – or go down that road," said Richt.


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