Improved offensive line still has tall order

TAMPA - Georgia¹s offensive line has put together a much more impressive season this year than last, but coach Mark Richt has a word of warning.

³The season isn¹t over yet, and we have Erasmus James to deal with yet,² Richt said.

Wisconsin¹s James, the Big Ten defensive player of the year, has eight sacks this year from his defensive end spot. But he won¹t make too much of a dent in Georgia¹s season statistics.

The Bulldogs gave up an SEC-worst 47 sacks last year. This season, they have given up only 20 through the first 11 games.

³I don¹t know if I¹d call them a great offensive line, but they¹re definitely a whole lot better than they were last year,² Richt said.

Offensive line coach Neil Callaway said experience and health are the main reasons for the improvement. The Bulldogs have started the same offensive line in 10 of their 11 games this year.

³I¹ve been very pleased with them,² Callaway said.

But there is room for improvement, he said.

³I don¹t want to be specific because I don¹t want to call anybody out, but certain individuals could have done better,² he said.

If guard Max Jean-Gilles decides to hold off on the NFL one more year and returns, Georgia will bring back all of this year¹s starters. Even if Jean-Gilles leaves, Georgia will have more depth up front next year than it has since the SEC Championship season of 2002.

³I think we have the opportunity to have one of the best offensive lines in the nation,² center Russ Tanner said.

INJURY UPDATE: Long snapper Brian Jordan is doubtful for Saturday¹s game after spraining his ankle and knee in Monday¹s full contact practice. Third-string quarterback Joe Tereshinski III and walk-on Jordan Wolf will compete this week to see who will take Jordan¹s place. Tereshinski and Wolf took turns snapping during Tuesday¹s practice, and Tereshinski zipped at least one over holder Lee Jackson¹s head.

³If they call on me to do it, then I¹ll feel confident I can get it done,³ said Tereshinski, who snapped in last year¹s Clemson game.

Linebackers Odell Thurman and Derrick White, who missed Monday¹s practice due to a stomach virus, returned Tuesday and are expected to play. Several of the team¹s support personnel and families of the staff have been hit by the bug, Richt said, but, so far, Thurman and White are the only players to miss time due to it.

³I think everybody else is good,² Richt said.

Tight end Trahern Holden, a Houston County graduate, is doubtful for the game due to a knee injury he suffered before the team left Athens. No surgery will be required to correct the injury, Richt said.

TRAITOR?: Former South Carolina coach Lou Holtz gave Wisconsin a pep talk before the Badgers¹ practice on Monday. Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez was on Holtz¹s staff at Notre Dame.

³I guess (Holtz) is an ex-SEC guy whose not worried about it anymore,² said Richt, who laughed off Holtz¹s appearance. ³I know he¹s a good friend of Coach Alvarez, but I thought we were good friends, too.²

Holtz was 1-2 against Richt in the the last three years, and Alvarez told The Tampa Tribune that he and Holtz only talked strategy briefly. Holtz¹s main job, Alvarez said, was motivation, which is his specialty.

³I¹m glad he talked to them early in the week and not on game day,² Richt said. ³Who knows how they would have played then.²

BRUTALLY HONEST: Defensive tackle Kedric Golston thinks Georgia¹s defense next year will be fine even without defensive end David Pollack, and possibly, safety Thomas Davis and linebacker Odell Thurman. And he has a reason for his belief.

The system and the work ethic make the defense, not the players, he said. To prove his point, he recalled the Bulldogs¹ 2000 defense. Every starter on that unit played in the NFL and the team finished 8-4 that year.

³Everybody on that defense is starting in the NFL, and they weren¹t half as good as we are,² Golston said.

AROUND THE DOG HOUSE: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson, Richt¹s brother-in-law, watched Tuesday¹s morning¹s practice with his wife and two small children.

Wide receiver Fred Gibson almost suffered a freak injury early in practice while horsing around with cornerback DeMario Minter. While Gibson and Minter were wrestling, Mary Persons graduate Tra Battle came to Minter¹s aid and jumped on Gibson¹s shoulders. When he came down, he stomped Gibson¹s right foot, causing Gibson to yank his shoe off and hobble around for several

The Bulldogs were eager to finish Tuesday¹s practice so they could head to Busch Gardens for a team outing.

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