Kentucky Week: Thursday News and Notes

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

MORE DEPTH CHART MOVES

Defensive back Bryan Evans moved from corner to safety during practice last month, and Richt said he has taken quickly to the position.

"He likes to be able to see everything in front of him," Richt said. "That may end up being his best deal. He's physical, smart, he's fast. It may be really good for him, and it's good for us because you create instant depth when a guy can play both."

Meanwhile Ramarcus Brown got the start as Georgia's nickelback last week over Vance Cuff, but Richt said that wasn't a sign of a major shift in playing time for either corner.

"Those guys are all playing," Richt said. "If you're at a position like quarterback where he's the starter and the other guy isn't playing, that's significant to me. But when they're both playing a lot and they're both playing good, it doesn't really matter to me who starts."

LESSON LEARNED

Following a two-game suspension for an arrest on driving under the influence charges, defensive tackle Brandon Wood will return to action Saturday against Kentucky.

"Brandon will travel, and Brandon will play," Richt said.

Wood, a third-year sophomore from Buchanan, handled the suspension well, Richt said.

"When you talk to these young men about the things that happen, just that initial sit down gives you a pretty good feeling on what kind of guy you're dealing with, and Brandon absolutely made no excuses whatsoever," Richt said.

Wood worked with Georgia's scout team to help his teammates prepare the past two weeks while he was sidelined, but he told Richt the absence from game action wasn't the hardest part of the experience.

"He was crushed that he had to call his mother and tell her," Richt said. "He said that was by far the worst thing that happened to him."

INJURY UPDATE

Defensive end Jeremy Lomax, who suffered a shoulder bruise last week against Florida, is scheduled to travel with the team to Kentucky, and Richt said he expected the senior to play.

Linebacker Darius Dewberry, who left the Florida game with a hip-flexor injury, won't make the trip.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has recovered quickly from an elbow and ankle injury, Richt said, and he will be 100 percent for this week's game.

The elbow injury happened midway through the Florida game last week, but Richt said his quarterback didn't inform coaches until after the game ended.

"It took a shot during the game, and he couldn't feel it for a while," Richt said. "We knew something was going on, but he wouldn't quite say. Now when we came back, he said he couldn't feel it for a while, but he didn't want to come out of the game."

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Defensive tackle Jeff Owens tore his ACL on his first series of the season, but he made it even further than left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in fall camp. Now the two are pushing each other in their rehab efforts.

"Trinton's a couple weeks ahead of me in the process, and I'm just trying to compete with him," Owens said. "He might do a new exercise, and I'm like, ‘Can I try that?' I'm just trying to get where he's at. He's ahead of me, so I'm trying to push it to keep up."

Once the knee is healed, Owens has a tough decision ahead of him, too. Because the injury happened early, he can accept a medical redshirt and return to school next year.

Before this season, however, he was already projected as a potential first-day pick in the NFL draft, and he hasn't ruled out going pro at year's end, despite the injury.

"I've thought about it, but not that much thought," Owens said. "I'm just trying to get all the information I can from everyone, try to find out where will I go if I did decide to go. I know if I come back, I'll be projected high. It's a tough decision, and it's not one I really have to make now. My main focus is on my knee, which is a big part in my decision. You can't go nowhere if my knee's not alright."

MOVIN' ON UP

Dannell Ellerbe played his first snaps in more than a month against Florida, but he wasn't in his traditional middle linebacker role.

With the success sophomore Darryl Gamble achieved as Ellerbe's replacement, the senior actually returned to the lineup by playing a new position.

Richt said Ellerbe lined up at the line of scrimmage on nickel packages as a third linebacker to go with three down linemen. Richt said the move was designed to create mismatches where Ellerbe would be blocked by a guard or running back rather than the tackle who would normally block the defensive end. Meanwhile, Ellerbe would also be more apt to drop into coverage than an end would be.

The move paid off when Ellerbe earned Georgia's only sack of the game, but it's a strategy Richt said isn't likely to continue this week.

"That's where we were hoping to get a little more of a mismatch, but he'll be back in a more traditional spot this week," Richt said.

That's because Ellerbe came out of the game feeling good, and his practices this week have been his best since injuring his knee against Alabama, Richt said.

"The good news is he feels real good," Richt said. "(Against Florida) he was not 100 percent, but he was well enough to play, and he came out of it good. Seeing him run now, I think we'll see Dannell really start to make plays again."

BITTERSWEET MEMORY

It wasn't the way he had dreamed it would happen, but freshman tight end Aron White isn't complaining about grabbing the first touchdown reception of his career in Georgia's 49-10 loss last week.

"I caught the touchdown in the back of the end zone, and I could see some Georgia fans right nearby applauding for me," White said.

That was the good part. The bad part was that the throw came from backup quarterback Joe Cox in the waning minutes of a blowout loss, making the career milestone a hallow one.

"It always feels good scoring a touchdown, but it's a little bittersweet," White said. "You can't be mad scoring a touchdown, it's something I'll remember for the rest of my life, but there's always going to be some hard feelings that it came in a game like that."

STILL HARD AT WORK

It has been a lost season for safety Quintin Banks, who missed the first six games of the season with knee injury he suffered in fall camp, then got hurt again in his first game back in action.

Richt said Banks isn't close to returning, but said the sophomore has done a great job of staying involved with the team while he recovers.

"He's doing a fantastic job out there," Richt said. "He's coaching his teammates every single play. He's helping (John) Knox. He's helping those young safeties. He's knows the plan, he's in the meetings, he's into it. He's trying to help the team win, and I'm really proud of him."


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