October 6, 2013

News is as feared

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The news was as feared, running back Keith Marshall and wide receiver Justin-Scott-Wesley will miss the rest of the year after tearing their ACL during Saturday's 34-31 overtime win at Tennessee.

Also, Richt announced Sunday that wide receiver Michael Bennett will have his knee scoped on Tuesday to determine the extent of the damage, while safety Connor Norman (concussion) and punter Collin Barber (concussion) are both listed as day-to-day.

"It's sad. It's sad for our players. You see them work so hard to get in position to play for Georgia, you know? To realize their dreams to play in big games, play for championships and all that," Richt said. "You know how much work they put in and how hard they play and you look forward to working in practice, the off-season then in one play like that it's taken away from them. It's heartbreaking. I don't know what hurts more, the pain of the injury or knowing they won't be playing any more for a while. I feel bad them."

As for running back Todd Gurley, Richt still was unsure whether or not the sophomore would suit up Saturday against Missouri (noon, ESPN) after spraining his ankle against LSU.

In his post-game press conference, Richt mentioned Gurley as 50-50 and seemed to stand by that comment during Sunday's weekly teleconference.

"Fifty-fifty is just whether he's healthy enough to go and we're not going to push him any faster," Richt said. "We like the true freshmen backs who have played and we think they are good football players. A.J.'s (Turman) a talent, you've got these other two guys, (Brandon) Harton has played well for us before, Kyle Karempelis has played so the last thing we do is rush anything on Todd."

Richt did not rule out Turman playing, although a lot will depend on how quickly Gurley recovers.

In the meantime, freshman J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas will continue get the bulk of the carries until Gurley returns.

"We traveled A.J. (to Tennessee), and there was a possibility he would have gotten into the last game. Again, a lot may depend on how Gurley's doing," Richt said. "If Gurley comes back and you've got the other two, you normally don't have to go more than three backs. But if Gurley can't go, we'll have to figure out what we're going to do."

Green and Douglas both showed that they can at least be a serviceable stop-gap measure.

Douglas scored the first touchdown of his career while Green rushed 17 times for 129 yards after Marshall left in the second quarter following the hit on his knee.

"If he wasn't a mid-year enrollee then I don't know if he'd be playing tailback right now. We didn't have a lot of backs for the spring and we thought we'd see what he could do there," Richt said of Green. "Like I said, when we signed him we didn't know if he would be a corner or a wide receiver. We didn't really see him at tailback. But we saw him in the spring, he was willing to do it and he was actually pretty darn good at it so we think he's found a good home."

As for who might step in place of Bennett and Scott-Wesley at wide receiver, Richt's choices appear to be limited.

The Bulldogs will lean on Chris Conley, Rantavious Wooten, Reggie Davis and Rhett McGowan, but are going to need some more help.

Walk-on (former UAB player) Kenneth Towns has played the last several games, although he has yet to catch a pass, while redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs, junior college transfer Jonathon Rumph, freshman Tramel Terry and freshman Uriah LeMay could potentially also receiver looks.

Unfortunately, as far as Rumph and Terry are concerned, there's two problems.

Rumph continues to be hampered by a strained hamstring that's bothered him now for over a month while Terry is recovering from an ACL tear of his own that he suffered on the opening kickoff of the Shrine Bowl.

"We're still trying to figure that out. We don't know," Richt said of Terry. "I just think the longer he practices coming back from his injury, the better he'll be. Is he really ready for this type of competition? I don't know, and the fact that he hasn't had a lot of offensive reps with our first unit; he's been working scout team reps and he's a freshman so it's hard to really be ready in all the ways that you have to be ready, not only physically but knowing the game-plan and having the experience of running the routes and playing in games like that. I'm not counting him out but I really don't have the answer right now."

Richt said Rumph is probably still a week away.

"We're still not sure," Richt said. "I'm not sure if he can go this week strictly from a hamstring point of view. He may, but I'd say it's very doubtful that he'd be ready this week. Next week, we're going to definitely try to get him ready."

In the meantime, Richt said the Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0) can't sit around feeling sorry themselves with Missouri (5-0, 1-0) coming to Athens Saturday.

"We're focusing more on what we have to do this week. When you know somebody is going to be out for the season, then obviously. But it's a long season and there's a lot more ball to be played," Richt said. "It's a physical game, obviously. Guys are carrying the ball, guys are catching the ball, and guys are more susceptible to getting hurt sometimes than the others. We've just got to dig deep, give some other guys opportunities, get them all repped up and go play."

NOTES: Georgia dropped a spot to seventh in both the Associated Press and USA/Today Coaches Top 25 polls. … Richt had some kind words to say about Missouri, which comes to Sanford Stadium a perfect 5-0. "We think they're playing at a higher level on offense than a year ago. I think now their quarterback (James Franklin) is healthy and is performing so well. They've got physical, great-looking receivers and they run the ball very well. They're getting a lot of yards, lot of points per game. They're doing a lot of great things and they're doing some good things on defense as well." … Richt was asked if he was concerned that his offense seemed to be carrying the load for the Bulldogs so far in 2013. His answer was predictable. ""I don't think that. We're all one team, we're Georgia and regardless of our situation we expect our defense to get stops and our offense to score points. Whatever it takes for us to win is all we're worried about r

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