Gibson not back in starting lineup yet

ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia receivers coach John Eason said Thursday that <b>Fred Gibson</b> "was down, obviously'' after being demoted from the starting lineup last week for the Tennessee game.

"I don't want him to be down, but by the same token the response was good,'' Eason said. "In my mind, he was really concerned and he wants to start.''  But Fred Gibson has not yet reclaimed his starting job for Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game against Vanderbilt.

"I think it's not a matter of (Gibson) doing enough (to win back the starting job),'' Eason said. "The other guys, Damien Gary and Reggie Brown, are doing a nice job.

"(Gibson) has to do something special to get our attention. It's not enough to do it in practice. He has to do it in a game.''

Even though Gibson was leading the team in receptions at the time of his demotion, Georgia coaches want him to work harder on blocks and on completing his routs. Gibson also struggled with some drops and fumbles. Against Tennessee, Gibson was the fifth receiver used, following Terrence Edwards, Gary, Brown and Michael Johnson.  As a result, he caught only one pass for two yards.

"(Gibson) had some opportunities, it was just when he was in the ballgame, maybe we didn't throw it to him enough,'' Eason said.

 Commodores also are special: Should Georgia land in a tight, low-scoring game against Vanderbilt where field position becomes critical, it won't be able to depend on its normal edge in special teams.

Though Vanderbilt (1-5 overall, 0-3 in the Southeastern Conference) struggles in some areas, it boasts perhaps the top overall kicking game in the conference.

"Our special teams will have a great challenge to continue to do the things they do,'' said Georgia coach Mark Richt.

Vanderbilt freshman Greg Johnson of Parkview High has made six of eight field goal attempts and all 16 of his extra points. Johnson is tied with Auburn's Damon Duval for the conference lead with his average of 45.4 yards per punt, the fourth-best mark in the nation.

Against Middle Tennessee State last week, Johnson boomed punts of 65, 62, 58, 54 and 52 yards. Jonathan Kilgo's longest punt of the year for Georgia is 53 yards.

Johnson will be matched with Georgia punt return specialist Damien Gary, who ranks second in the SEC and 11th in the nation with his average of 15.7 yards per return, including one for a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt freshman tailback Kwane Doster ranks 14th in the nation with his average of 26.7 yards on kickoff returns, including a long return of 95 yards.

Doster will be starting his second game at tailback for Norval McKenzie, who ranks 10th in the league in rushing but suffered a broken leg three days before last week's loss to Middle Tennessee State.

 From the practice field: Eason says he thinks the Tuesday practice before the Tennessee game was Georgia's best practice of the year, but he says he thinks the team has maintained the focus it established last week.

 "I thought all week long we've had good practices,'' said Eason, who subbed for Richt in the post-practice session with reporters. Richt left practice to speak at a homecoming pep rally on campus.

 Musa back in red: Tailback Musa Smith appears on pace toward starting against Vanderbilt. After spending Wednesday's practice in green non-contact jersey, Smith was back in red Thursday, which meant he has been fully cleared after suffering a jammed neck last Saturday.

 The Georgia connections: Johnson is not the only former Parkview High standout in the Vanderbilt starting lineup. Vanderbilt senior left guard Jim May played beside Georgia senior offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb on the Parkview offensive line; each were named to preseason All-SEC teams.

 May has started 35 consecutive games, the longest streak on the Vanderbilt squad. Stinchcomb has 39 career starts for Georgia.

 Vanderbilt backup receiver Keith Williams was one of the favorite targets for Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley at North Clayton High.

 Finally, Vanderbilt backup cornerback Ronnie Swoopes is the older brother of Georgia freshman center Randall Swoopes of Athens. They are the sons of former Georgia defensive lineman Ronnie Swoopes (1974-77).   Randall Swoopes is currently targeted for a redshirt year at Georgia.

 For what it's worth: Vanderbilt has produced some shocking offensive numbers against Georgia every 10 years or so.

 The last player to catch 15 or more passes against Georgia was Vandy's Keith Edwards, who caught 17 passes in a  20-13 loss to the Bulldogs in 1983.

 The last time an opposing team rushed for 400 or more yards against Georgia was 1994, when the Commodores spoiled Georgia's homecoming by rushing for 415 yards in a 43-30 win in Athens.

 That was the last time Georgia lost a homecoming game and also the last time it lost to Vanderbilt. Since 1994, Georgia has won seven straight games in the series.

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