Chandler looking to make impact

ATHENS – All through Georgia's spring practice this year, there was talk about four-wide receiver sets.

The implication was the Bulldogs' wide receivers were outperforming its tight ends and therefore more deserving of being on the field. Junior tight end Tripp Chandler quieted that talk quickly, though.

"I wouldn't have thought that before spring, but he had a great spring," Coach Mark Richt said.

After sitting out the Bulldogs' first game due to suspension, Chandler returned to the lineup last week and was one of the No. 23 Bulldogs' few offensive bright spots, catching three passes for 44 yards.

"I can't say I'm really surprised," Chandler said. "I'm happy that it happened."

The majority of Georgia's formations against the Gamecocks included a tight end, and that's a direct reflection of Chandler's progress.

"We're definitely not afraid to have him in the game," Richt said.

Having a tight end who is a true receiving threat helps open up Georgia's offense, quarterback Matthew Stafford said.

"It's good for us because we run the ball a lot, and we can play action and slip him behind the linebackers," Stafford said. "Tripp's doing a good job. He's got good hands, got a good feel for zones."

Chandler appeared to find open spots in the South Carolina zones several times but didn't get the ball, and he talked with Stafford about that fact at least once during the game, he said.

"I might have felt (frustrated) during the game, but you just have to understand that our offense is a working system," he said. "Matt has checks and he has reads and on those plays the ball just wasn't built to come to me. That's just the way it works. If the coverage is right for the ball to go somewhere else, that's where the ball is going to go."

Chandler also had a chance to make one catch he didn't make, a high, hard throw from Stafford in the fourth quarter. Richt and tight ends coach David Johnson have told Chandler that he shouldn't take the blame for that play, but he still does.

"My dad always taught me, if you touch the ball, you catch the ball," he said. "I've got to bring it in."

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