Sugar Bowl Week: Friday News and Notes

NEW ORLEANS - David Ching's news and notes from Georgia's Sugar Bowl practices.

HANGING TOUGH: It's been a tough year for Na Derris Ward, and it has nothing to do with the fact the redshirt freshman tight end has no catches.

Ward, a native of Oakland, Calif., has lost an uncle and a cousin to stabbing and shooting deaths this year. During his first year in Athens, being away from the rough environment in which he grew up was one of Ward's favorite parts of being a Bulldog. Now, part of him can't help but wonder what would have been if he had stayed.

"I miss my family a lot more now," he said. "I was glad to be out of it, but those are people that I did surround myself with and I felt like when I was around, they stayed out of trouble."

Still, Ward, who sat out last year due to shoulder surgery, has no plans to head home, he said. He will likely enter next season as the third-string tight end behind Tripp Chandler and Bruce Figgins.

"He just needs to get stronger," tight ends coach David Johnson said. "With that, I think he'll get more confidence. He really needs to have a great offseason in the weight room."

LITTLE TO SAY: Hawaii coach June Jones sticks to what he knows on the sidelines – and that's the Warriors' passing attack.

"He really doesn't say much at all (during games)," Hawaii safety Jacob Patek said. "He just kinda sits back and watches what's going on and lets his other coaches coach.

Even when Jones does open his mouth on the sidelines, it's almost exclusively to talk to one of his offensive skill position players, mostly quarterback Colt Brennan.

"I'd say it's about 80 percent (to Brennan)," Patek joked. "And then you've got like 20 percent directed toward the receivers."

"He sticks with what he does best, that run-and-shoot offense."

PAST BATTLES: Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford said he didn't recall playing against Hawaii cornerback Myron Newberry in high school.

Maybe he didn't want to remember.

Although Stafford threw a 70-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, Newberry's Billy Ryan-Denton (Texas) team beat Stafford's Highland Park High 45-21 in the semifinals of the 2003 state playoffs.

Stafford has said in the past that it was the last time he remembered getting unnerved in one of his high school games.

"All I remember is that I got sacked a whole bunch of times," Stafford laughed.

Newberry said Stafford, at the time the Scots' sophomore quarterback, showed a strong throwing arm even then.

"He was a big old sophomore," said Newberry, an all-Western Athletic Conference defensive back. "He's gotten even bigger."

HAVES, HAVE-NOTS: While Georgia's players get by on $45 per diem in New Orleans, the Bulldogs' coaches are bound by no such restrictions. The coaching staff ate at Emeril's – one of the pricey eateries owned by famous New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse – on Thursday night.

The players, meanwhile, usually stick to fast food and save their meal money for other things, offensive lineman Chester Adams said.

"We come down here and get clothes and stuff so we'll probably spend it all here," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said.

QUICK HITS: Ellerbe, the Bulldogs' leading tackler with 85 stops, did not participate in the portion of Friday's workout the media was allowed to watch. Ellerbe said he is fine and should be able to play, however. Fellow linebacker Marcus Washington continues to practice in a green no-contact jersey. … Many of Georgia's players visited New Orleans' Children's Hospital on Friday, followed by a team dinner at Mulate's Cajun Restaurant. Hawaii's players are scheduled to make a hospital visit of their own this afternoon at West Jefferson Medical Center.

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