2005 Fall Camp: Day 9 observations and opinions

ATHENS – Observations and opinions from Georgia's ninth day of practice.

It seems the Bulldogs are racking up injuries this August, and they are, but none are nearly as serious as has been the case in the past. A laundry list of players missed Saturday afternoon's scrimmage.

Nevertheless, the Dawgs are, for the most part, healthier this August than last August. All three major running backs are healthy – there is no question mark at that spot like in the last two seasons. Georgia's offensive line has lost one player for the rest of his career, Bartley Miller, but the rest of the line is working in a two-deep rotation. There are few depth issues on the offensive line. At fullback, a competition seems to have sprung up between Brannon Southerland and Tony Milton. Both have been working exclusively at fullback during camp, and it seems Milton is putting pressure on Southerland. However, Richt said that Southerland had his best performance of camp at Saturday's scrimmage. The head coach said that if Milton wins the job during camp that he will start against Boise State.

Mark Richt has been pleased with his number one quarterback – like last season – and the back-up spot seems secure with Joe Tereshinski.

Wide receiver is the spot the Bulldogs should be and seem to be most concerned about. Sean Bailey and Brian McClendon are both healthy, and their play seems to have improved since dropped balls plagued them at the start of camp. A.J. Bryant's injury looked worse than it turned out to be, but the sophomore will miss all camp, and for a player still learning the position, that is not a good thing. Kenneth Harris has stepped into Bryant's spot, but its hard to know if Mohamed Massaquoi would be there instead of him had his hamstring held up at the start of camp. Massaquoi seems like the real deal, but missing camp will hurt his chances of making an early splash this season.

Injuries have occurred on the defensive side of the ball as well. Safety Antonio Sims will likely miss action until the Tennessee game, but several safeties are there for depth. Greg Blue may be having the best camp of any defensive player. Blue is a monster. Tra Battle, the other starting safety, seems to be doing well, and if either Blue or Battle need rest Kelin Johnson, the most consistent special teams performer during camp, is a more than adequate backup. Drew Williams, another special teams demon, is looking good at that spot. It's hard to tell if C.J. Byrd will redshirt or not this season (as a result of Williams' stellar play). However, after practice Mark Richt said that Byrd was had more opportunity to play with the move of Olaolu Sanni-Osomo to linebacker. "C.J. is learning, he's eager to learn. He is not afraid of contact," said Richt.

At linebacker, the Bulldogs have had a few players sit out practices, but nothing serious has happened injury-wise. Brandon Miller, Tony Taylor and Danny Verdun Wheeler seem to be entrenched as the starters. However, Verdun Wheeler was seen after practice on crutches with his ankle in wrap. Jarvis Jackson and Dannell Ellerbe seem like capable back-ups, but it now appears that freshmen Tavares Kearney and Marcus Washington will play instead of redshirt this season. Although the situation with Kearney's knee seems up in the air.

On the line, Kedric Golston will miss the first game, but Darrius Swain, Ray Gant and Dale Dixson seem more than able to pick up the slack. Kade Weston has spent most of camp in a non-contact jersey, which means his status is up in the air for a redshirt. Jeff Owens is in much better shape than this summer, but figuring out if he will redshirt or not is difficult, too. Gerald Anderson has been banged up slightly, but he is fine. Ray Gant seems ready to step in for heavy reps while Golston is out against Boise State. Gant will also play a little at defensive end. The defensive ends are ripping and ready to go.

Richt said he was concerned about going three consecutive practice days in a row in full pads. That's why practice this morning was shortened by 40 minutes. Richt added that he considered not practicing this afternoon at all, and said that he was particularly concerned about the wide receivers.

"The receivers needed relief. We walked them around during a lot or practice until it was time to compete," Richt said.

Linebackers and safeties are also looking thinner than the start of camp. Dannell Ellerbe (stinger) and Jemario Smith (cramps) were slowed this evening.

Richt said he was looking forward to seeing tailback Kregg Lumpkin do live in a full-pads scrimmage.

"He needs to get tackled," Richt said. "He needs to make sure he can wrap up the ball and he's got to make sure that he can pop back up and play again."

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