Although nothing is official, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Tuesday night the team is getting close to making a decision as to whether or not to redshirt junior linebacker Richard Samuel.
Samuel, who has not played at all this year due to an injured knee, has not practiced with the squad now for over a month and Grantham the time is quickly approaching where a call has to be made.
"I would say we're getting pretty close. We're at the mid-point now and he still hasn't practiced," Grantham said. "There are a lot of reps that he's missed, so I think we're getting to be close where we can make a decision if we have to."
A former running back, Samuel was moved to inside linebacker before the start of spring practice but hasn't practiced since midway in preseason drills.
According to Grantham, he and head coach Mark Richt will meet with the former five-star performer to chart the path each sees fit.
"We'll talk to him and see what happens, how he feels but ultimately you have to do what's best for the program. You've got to keep his thoughts in mind, too, but I think we've just got wait and see," Grantham said. "We still don't know what's going to happen with the players that we've got now so I think you've got to be careful and say hey, this is what we're going to do because it can play with one play on Saturday."
Searels likes way his line finished
As an offensive line coach, Stacy Searels admits he's a hard man to please.
That said, for the first time all year, there were some positives to talk about following Saturday's 41-14 win over Tennessee.
"To take seven minutes off the clock like they did at the end of the game, I was pleased with them," Searels said. "I would have liked to have finished the whole game and get another first down, but we were going to run the ball, we were going to run the ball. The kids did well and the backs did well."
Searels said he was also pleased with the effort of true freshman Kenarious Gates at right guard, as well as left tackle Trinton Sturdivant who took every snap except the final play of the final series.
"He was in there for every series except the last play and I took him out because I wanted to give somebody else a snap. I could have done that earlier but I wanted to see those guys finish the game," Searels said. "Earlier in the year we tried to finish a game but didn't do a very good job of it. I want to see guys finish because the more snaps they get together, and play together, the better they're going to be and the more comfortable they're going to be. That's what I want to see."
McClendon looking at three backs
Barring a recovery by sophomore Carlton Thomas, assistant Bryan McClendon[/db ] plans on going into Saturday's game against Vanderbilt with three available backs - [db]Washaun Ealey, Fred Munzenmaier and Ken Malcome - following the news that Caleb King has been suspended for the next two games.
"I almost suited up and got back there (Tuesday). No, it's been interesting to say the least," McClendon said. "You can be playing Little League, you can be playing the NFL, but it does give chances, it does give opportunities for guys to show what they can do. You've just got to evaluate and put the best guy out there."
According to McClendon, that person will be Ealey who will make the start against the Commodores, despite his recent penchant for fumbling deep inside opponent's territory.
"It's not so much he has to fill the void, but he has to go out there and fill the void no matter what," said McClendon, who added that Thomas (hamstring) did get in some work Tuesday.
McClendon said Malcome is close to getting his shot.
"This isn't his first time having to get a game-plan down, it's not his first time getting his body ready, getting his mind ready to go on Saturday," McClendon said. "We definitely have to see what all he can handle as far as game-plan wise and then make a decision on what's going to happen from then on."
Dawgs have physical practice session
Richt said he was pleased with the defense's performance in the head-to-head portions of Tuesday's practice.
"Today was very physical," Richt said. "They got after it pretty good. I thought the defense had a really, really good day in the competition phase. The defense won the team run portion. The 11-on-11 was pretty much a wash. It was very equal. The offense did win the 3-on-3 tackling drill, the old-school 'Oklahoma' drill but it was close."
Earlier, Richt discussed the date with the Commodores in depth during the team's weekly press conference.
"They just do a very good job on their staff of getting these guys lined up and getting these guys fundamentally ready to play football," Richt said. "They don't necessarily try to trick you, but they are very, very sound in what they do. They play fast and they play physical and they really play great fundamental football on both sides of the ball. You could tell they've created a lot of really good habits in the way they play."
Richt believes the Bulldogs can continue to build momentum following their victory over Tennessee.
"It's our job now to hopefully build off of the momentum that we've created with last week's victory," Richt said. "I think when you lose games people tend to think that everything is going wrong and not much is going right.
"Then when you win games maybe they think everything is going right and not much is going wrong. I think as we were going through that losing streak we were improving in a lot of areas. We just didnšt finish really like we should and this game, even though a lot of things did go well we still have more to correct, and that's our job as coaches is to continue to try to improve and again build off the momentum that we created."
This and that
Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs didn't practice due to an undisclosed injury but Grantham said he expects the Savannah senior to play Saturday.
Also, Branden Smith (concussion), outside linebacker Cornelius Washington (concussion) and safety Nick Williams (hamstring) did not practice Tuesday. Wide receiver Marlon Brown returned to practice.
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