Tennessee Week: Thursday News and Notes

ATHENS - Josh Kendall's news and notes from Georgia's fall practices.

WHERE'D THEY GO?: Georgia's secondary is not quite the fearsome foe it has been the last five years, and this week's opponent has noticed.

"It's kind of hard to replace a guy like Greg Blue or (DeMario) Minter back there," Tennessee wide receiver Jayson Swain said, before adding, "but they're 5-0 for a reason."

That reason has not been the secondary.

"The safeties have done a god job, I wouldn't say a great job to this point," Richt said. "We've got to be a little bit more physical when we tackle, we've got to wrap up better when we tackle. There have been a couple of lapses that have cost us, not a lot, but timely enough to let people score."

Senior Tra Battle said he can't explain the breakdowns. Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said there won't be any changes this week at safety other than him hoping to get backups CJ Byrd and Donavon Baldwin into the game more than he did against Ole Miss.

"Sometimes you get in a tight ball game and you're a little gun shy about getting another guy in there," he said. "I've just got to get them in there; they deserve it."

DISTANT MEMORY: Until Saturday, Gordon Ely-Kelso hadn't had a punt blocked since his junior year in high school.

Now a senior in college, Georgia's punter had two blocked last week.

"It was different," he said. "The first one, I didn't quite realize what had happened until I hit the ground."

There's no real panic among the Bulldogs' punt team this week because both blocks came on missed assignments, Ely-Kelso said.

"It was two pretty simple breakdowns we can easily fix," he said.

Still, there is an overall concern that Georgia's special teams has slipped after a sterling effort in the first three games. In three of Georgia's four wins in this series this decade, the Bulldogs have made a big special teams play.

"To think we can win the game without at least breaking even in the kicking game would not be very realistic," Richt said. "We've got to get better in a hurry. We have to make up a lot of ground, that's for sure."

SIMS OFF TEAM: Safety Antonio Sims, a sophomore who was suspended for the 2006 season, was withdrawn from school for good under the threat of expulsion. Georgia's Office of Judicial Programs cited Sims with financial transaction card fraud after he used another student's Bulldog Bucks from a UGA ID card that Sims claimed he found. The two charges against Sims were felonies, but the student whose card was used declined to press charges.

Sims had been suspended for a series of off-field transgressions in his first year in Athens. He worked as the scout team quarterback early this season and didn't record a tackle as a Bulldog.

THIS AND THAT: Defensive line coach Rodney Garner has yet to commit to a starting defensive tackle rotation, meaning senior Ray Gant, or even Dale Dixson or Geno Atkins, could replace Jeff Owens or Kade Weston against Tennessee. … True freshman offensive lineman Kevin Perez, who is redshirting this season, dislocated his left elbow and will be out four-to-six weeks.

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