October 8, 2013

Will anything change?

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Chris Conley talks Missouri from UGASports.com on Vimeo.

With so many new faces in new places slated to see action for 7th-ranked Georgia on offense Saturday, is there any way the Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0) can continue what to this point has been a dizzying offensive pace?

Wide receiver Chris Conley doesn't want to make any predictions about that but said Tuesday he and his teammates can't use their current situation as excuse not to play well. The Bulldogs come into play averaging 530 yards of offense and scoring at a clip of 39.8 points per game.

"You see what kind of character a team has, you see what these guys are really made of and you see who the men are," Conley said. "There's obviously a lot of injuries, obviously there are people in different spots, a few places where they're not as comfortable as they have been. You're going to be expected to perform at a high level, but there's no excuses that we make and no one here is getting a pass on anything. We're prepared to play a great football game against a good team on Saturday."

That's certainly what head coach Mark Richt is hoping for when the Bulldogs tackle No. 25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0) Saturday at Sanford Stadium (noon, ESPN).

"Basically, in the game of football and the game of life, adversity strikes. Things happen, and you've got to decide what you're going to do about it," Richt said. "You can panic, you can get mad, you can start blaming things or you can assess where you're at and realize what resources you have. You find a way to win, and that's what we do here at Georgia."

But will the numbers be the same?

Instead of Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett catching passes, Conley, Rantavious Wooten, Rhett McGowan and Reggie Davis will be joined by Blake Tibbs, Michael Erdman and Kenneth Towns who could soon become familiar names to Bulldog fans.

Considering Conley (20 catches, 318 yards and three touchdowns) has been easily been the most prolific of the group, don't be surprised if the visiting Tigers show him a bit more attention than they ordinarily might.

Conley recognizes that could well be the case.

"Maybe, probably, a little bit. Being one of the guys who has played in a lot of these situations, that probably will factor in a little bit," he said. "But then also it allows me the ability to learn more positions and move all around the field, so you will be seeing me at some different spot."

But otherwise, the junior doesn't expect much to change with the way Georgia's offense attempts to operate in Saturday's nationally televised game.

"I think the fact that we have talent in all those positions and we have a talented offensive line that can run block, plus a quarterback like Aaron (Murray) doesn't mean that we will lean too heavily on one or the other," he said. "I think it will just be Georgia football as usual, just with different guys."

However, veterans like Conley and Murray aren't just assuming the youngsters will simply slide into their new roles without some sort helping hand.
According to Murray, he and the receivers have been spending extra time on the practice before and after workouts to make sure everyone is on the same page.

"That's the kind of a process that the older guys have to take on. There's been more teaching as of late given the chance they want to give guys more reps because they haven't had them," Conley said. "There's a lot of teaching going on and it's learning on the fly. They're not only learning, but they're running it and they're having to execute it."

Freshman J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas are expected to handle the bulk of the running back chores with Todd Gurley still doubtful with a sprained ankle and Keith Marshall now out for the year with a torn ACL.

Green responded with a 17-carry, 129-yard effort against Tennessee while Douglas chipped in with his first collegiate score.

Fellow freshman A.J. Turman has also begun seeing extended reps with the third team, followed by vets Brandon Harton and Kyle Karempelis.

Murray said he's confident the group will do just fine.

"We have a lot of faith in those guys but it all starts with the offensive line. They've done a great job of creating some great running lanes, giving me time. But those two running backs are very talented, not only running the ball but catching the ball out of the backfield," Murray said. "They can make a lot of great things happen. I've got a lot of trust in them. I know they know the running game; they know their checks. They'll be ready to go and they'll get a lot more work in practice, too, even more reps to get better and better."

Conley believes it will be business as usual come Saturday afternoon.

"We've had a lot of adversity at this position during this season, but it's kind of been a story of when one guy goes down another one steps up," he said. "We've had quite a few guys go down but I don't think it's going to change anything or the way we do things. It just means another young guy is going to have an opportunity to step up."

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