SCOTT: Georgia might be this year's Auburn

Georgia's biggest concern last week seemed to be the possibility of getting shut out of the national championship picture by the BCS.

The BCS should be the furthest thing from the Bulldogs' minds this week as they prepare to play Florida without star quarterback D.J. Shockley.


"We have an opportunity this week, if we can find some way to win it, to clinch the Eastern Division," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I don't know if that's going to happen or not. We just have to take inventory of who can play right now."


That inventory starts with Shockley, who suffered a sprained knee ligament on Saturday in No. 4 Georgia's 23-20 too-close-for-comfort victory over Arkansas.


Shockley sustained the injury on a quarterback sneak in the second quarter and did not return. He spent the second half with a brace on his leg and used crutches to enter and leave the field.


"When he came back out on the field, I asked him 'What are (the doctors) saying to you?'" said Tyson Browning, Shockley's roommate. "He said, 'They're saying I might not be back till Auburn (on Nov. 12).'"

Richt wouldn't confirm that, simply because he couldn't. The Bulldogs really won't know for sure until sometime late this week.


"We're expecting to get him back this season," Richt said. "We just don't know when."


Shockley's injury means junior Joe Tereshinski will most likely make his first start on Saturday when the Bulldogs face Florida in Jacksonville, Fla.


"When your number is called, you've got to be ready," Tereshinski said. "I think I'm ready."


That wasn't obvious on Saturday. The Bulldogs managed only 217 yards, less than half of their SEC-leading average of 454 against an Arkansas team allowing 424 yards per game. Tereshinski did complete five of nine passes for 91 yards, but with Shockley out Richt appeared content to let his team win with defense, the running game and special teams and let Arkansas pull within three points with 4:54 left in the game.


"I probably didn't help Joe much," Richt said. "I tried to help Joe by running the ball, playing a little more conservative. Looking back on what I did, I probably would have stuck with the plan that we practiced the most."


The defense has its own share of problems with the absence of defensive tackle Kedric Golston and Gerald Anderson along with middle linebacker Tony Taylor sitting out the Arkansas game due to injuries and defensive tackle Dale Dixson (concussion and rover C.J. Byrd (concussion) both leaving the game due to injuries and not returning.


"Our leader of offense is gone and really our leader on defense is gone with Kedric out," defensive tackle Darrius Swain said. "We're taking some major blows."


Defensive end Charles Johnson, rover Tra Battle and outside linebacker Brandon Miller and defensive end Stephen White also left the game with various injuries, but Johnson, Battle and Miller returned.


"We're beat up and fatigued and there are some guys in Gainesville licking their chops," Richt said. "The guys on our defense are flat-out warriors. (Defensive tackle) Ray Gant would not come out of the game and probably should have a couple of times. You have to tip your hat to them and coach Willie Martinez and rest of our defensive coaches."


The Bulldogs can tip all the hats they want this week, but their biggest concern has to be finding a way to beat a Florida team that spent last week regrouping with an open date. Now they've got to face the possibility of doing it without the quarterback who entered the weekend ranked first in the SEC in total offense, passing and passing efficiency.


"The things he can do, he means so much to this team. To lose a guy like that is devastating," Gant said. "We can still accomplish our goals. We will accomplish our goals. No one man makes the Georgia Bulldogs."



Georgia's opponent has its own quarterback problems, but Florida coach Urban Meyer left no doubt about who would start for the Gators this week.


"Chris Leak is our quarterback," Meyer said.


One week after Florida's offense continued to struggle in a 21-17 loss at LSU, Meyer found himself responding to a plethora of questions and rumors regarding Leak's status and fans wondering when and if he will be replaced by freshman Josh Portis.


"To put the whole blame on him is absolutely unfair," Meyer said. "I don't think people are doing that. We're certainly not doing that. (The problems on offense) are a combination of everyone involved. Players, coaches, everyone involved."


It's easy for fans to point the finger at Leak, especially after he completed only 11 of 30 passes for a career-low 107 yards against LSU. He also struggled to set his feet and never looked comfortable in the pocket, but a lot of that had to do with the lack of pass protection from a line that feature four senior starters.


"We're not protecting him very well," Meyer said. "That's what happens when a quarterback gets spooked. Even when we're protecting him his feet aren't getting set. We've got to get everything right. We've got to protect him better. We have to make sure we protect him and spend a lot of time working on protecting the quarterback."


Leak's play has also been adversely affected by a sprained right shoulder. He insists his shoulder is fine, but he's received anti-inflammatory shots before each of the past two games.


"My shoulder is fine. It's just a bruise," Leak said. "(The shot) was just precautionary. I'm going out and playing like I always do. I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing and taking care of it."


The open date gave the Gators a chance to regroup, evaluate the offense and work on finding more ways to help Leak get back on track.


"Everyone has talked about it," senior center Mike Degory said. "We have five games left in the season and we're going to try to prove everybody wrong. That's the big focus, to show this offense works. We know it does."




Fans are also clamoring for a quarterback change at Arkansas, where coach Houston Nutt hinted at change last week and failed to follow-up, playing sophomore Robert Johnson the whole way against Georgia with familiar results.


Nutt suggested the possibility of playing two quarterbacks or even using some option against Georgia, but instead he continued to rely on his running game and another shaky performance from Johnson, who completed 11 of 19 passes for 161 yards and one interception that led to a Georgia touchdown.


So why did Johnson play? Nutt indicated he didn't want to play redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen in a hostile environment and preferred both Johnson's experience as well as his deep handoffs, play-action fakes and bootlegs. Eight of his completions went to backs, so it's obvious Nutt isn't really committed to making a change in the passing game anytime soon, even with an open date coming this week.


"I'd love to throw the ball up and down the field, but this is what we do best," Nutt said.



South Carolina took a big step toward a winning season and a possible bowl berth last week, only to take a big step backward in the process.


With a dramatic 35-28 win over Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks (4-3, 2-3 SEC) need two more wins to qualify for a bowl. With Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Clemson still left on the schedule, it seems like a realistic opportunity for South Carolina.


It's not so realistic, however, when one considers the impact of losing Syvelle Newton for the rest of the season. Newton excelled in his new multiple role as a receiver, runner and thrower, accounting for three touchdowns and 126 total yards before suffering a torn Achilles tendon on a fourth-quarter 10-yard touchdown run.


The Gamecocks still have quarterback Blake Mitchell and wide receiver Sidney Rice, but their running game is almost non-existent and their remaining receivers have a lot to prove.

"He's a great player, man, and we love him. He's a leader out there; he gets all of us going," receiver Kris Clark said. "To see that happen, and it being on one of his best performances as a college player, that's really sad. It brings tears to my eyes. We're all going to have to step up."

Tiger Blitz Top Stories