Ga. Southern Week: Wednesday News and Notes

ATHENS - David Hale's news and notes from Georgia's fall practices.

HAPPY TO HAVE HATCHER:

Georgia Southern head coach will kick off his second season in Statesboro when his team takes on Georgia on Saturday, and Richt is happy to have him on the opposing sideline.

It's not that Richt is excited to face Hatcher, whom he praised as one of the top coaches in the country. It's that he's thrilled not to be facing the man Hatcher replaced, former Bulldogs defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

"It's always awkward because not only is Brian a former coach on our staff, but he's been a friend for 20-some years," Richt said. "His wife, Holly, I've known since I was a kid. And that's not always comfortable playing someone that you know."

Richt learned that lesson early in his career, when Georgia faced his former boss Bobby Bowden and the Florida State Seminoles in a bowl game.

"It seemed like a fun thing until we got down to the nitty gritty of playing it, and it wasn't much fun," Richt said. "You certainly don't want to lose to your friends."

As for getting some inside info on the Georgia Southern players from his old pal VanGoder, now a coach with the Atlanta Falcons, Richt said he hadn't thought to ask.

NOT HAVING A BALL

Georgia's depleted corps of defensive ends has gotten a bit healthier this week after losing all but one scholarship player to injury at one point during camp. But one player who won't see the field Saturday is redshirt freshman Neland Ball.

Ball has battled a hamstring injury for the past two weeks, and Richt said there was no chance Ball would be healthy enough for action against Georgia Southern.

"(Trainer) Ron (Courson) is hoping Monday he'll be able to go, he'll practice, and I hope by next week he'll be able to play, but I wouldn't even predict that," Richt said. "We'll try to work him in as soon as we can, but it's not going to be this week


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