Junior wide receiver A.J. Bryant made
the move from quarterback to wide receiver in the spring of 2004 and after working
for three years; he has become the leading receiver this season for Georgia.
Head coach Mark Richt shared his thoughts on how Bryant worked
his way up the depth chart to starting wide receiver.
"He works so hard, he works hard in practice and
I cannot remember a time in practice when I thought he was loafing or giving
less than full effort and you can tell he cares so much about it," said
Richt of his top receiver Bryant. "Sometime you can say a guy cares a
little too much and you press a little bit early-on, but now that he has gotten
comfortable and confident he is doing great. I am proud of him."
Bryant leads the Bulldogs with 10 catches with 147 yards
receiving this season.
"He is becoming that (our number one threat) and
quite frankly we have not put the ball up that many times this year, but he
is a guy that we have been directing balls to," said Richt. "He
has been the primary guy on more than one occasion we just need to do a better
job of getting it near him."
Bryant's ability to get open and make plays on the
ball in the air has impressed the Georgia coaching staff.
"That one long ball he caught he was past the defender
by about a yard or two, far enough to catch it on the run if the ball was placed
there, but it was short and outside and he was still able to spot it and make
a great grab," said Richt. "That was not an easy catch at all and
even his second catch was a whale of a catch off of a scramble situation. He
has made some impressive catches."
Coach Richt and the Georgia offense hope to put the ball
in Bryant's hands more often Saturday against Vanderbilt.
Southerland credits freshman experience for his
Armed with good hands and a big 6'0" 240 pound
frame redshirt sophomore fullback Brannen Southerland has been
the breakout star of the Georgia offense this season. Southerland leads the
team in touchdowns with four rushing and two receiving this season.
Southerland credits his success this season from the amount of playing time
he received last year.
"With having a year of experience it helps me see
things better on the field this year," said Southerland. "Every
time you touch the ball in practice you get confident, but every time you touch
it in a game you get even more confident and the easier it is for you to go
out there and play football."
Through just six games, Southerland has surpassed all
of his offensive totals from all of last season.
"I have a year under my belt and I am trying to
use last year's mishaps and things I learned from last year to correct
what I did wrong last year and do it right this year," said Southerland.
After filling in for injured starting fullback
Des Williams last season, Southerland has not relinquished his starting
spot. Williams and Jason Johnson now backup Southerland and
his play has kept them off the field.
"The more people we get the ball to and the more
we can spread the ball around on offense the hard we make it for the other team's
defense," said Southerland."I think the fact we can get the ball
to receivers, tight ends, tailbacks, fullbacks, and spread the ball all around
keeps defenses from shutting down one aspect of the game."
Georgia fans should expect to see Southerland become even more involved in the
offense this season as the coaches and Southerland get more confident.
Change of Routine
Following the season ending injury to kicker
Brandon Coutu, the Georgia kickers are now changing the practice habits to
avoid possible injuries. Coutu's replacement junior Andy Bailey
is changing his routine to make sure he stays healthy for the rest of the season.
"I was told to make sure I stretch out even more
than usual and not to do anything that could possibly hurt my leg and not to
do anything out of the ordinary," said Bailey.
Bailey hopes that he can take advantage of his second
chance as a kicker.
"I definitely realize that this week or next week
could be my last chance," said Bailey of his second chance as Georgia's
kicker. "I am using that mentality to play like each time is my last time
and I want to go out there and prove myself."
Two weeks ago walk-on Ben Wilson passed Bailey
on the depth chart as the second kicker, but Bailey worked his way back up the
depth chart before Coutu's injury.
"It was definitely unexpected and it happened at
the last minute, so I am very fortunate and happy coach Richt has faith in me
to do this job," said Bailey. "It has been a really crazy week."
Coutu will rehab his hamstring for the next several months,
but it is unlikely he will be ready by the spring.
"When I talked to Brandon he was in pretty good
spirits and I want to give him a lot of support," said Bailey of his teammate
and fellow kicker Coutu. "He is just going to rehab it now."
Who will start at tailback?
The Georgia coaches will decide Thursday on who the starter
will be at tailback for the Vanderbilt game.
Kregg Lumpkin rushed for 78 yards
on 13 carries Saturday and junior Thomas Brown ran for 57 yards
on only eight carries.
Lumpkin missed several blocks according to the coaches in addition to a facemask
penalty he received Saturday.
Brown returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the win Saturday.
No matter who starts, both running backs plus junior
Danny Ware will share time in the backfield Saturday against Vanderbilt.
Coaches look to get Henderson the ball
One of the biggest playmakers for the Bulldogs has been
junior wide receiver
Mikey Henderson. Henderson has returned
two punts for a touchdown and almost had a third until it slipped out of his
hands on the goal line.
Henderson has not technically caught a ball this season,
the only pass he caught was behind the quarterback, and so it is credited as
a run for three yards.
The Georgia coaching staff wants to get the ball to their
playmakers at receiver and in particular they want to see want Mikey can do
with the ball in open space.
"Our receivers are not getting as many opportunity
in general as we would like them too," said Richt. "I would love
to see Mikey get on track because he has some playmaking abilities. We saw that
in the spring and we need to find a way to get him the ball a little more, but
the thing that has slowed him down more than anything is the hamstring issue."
Henderson's injured hamstrings prevented him from
getting a lot of work at flanker and he is slowly working his way back up the
"The season starts rolling and A.J. is playing pretty
good and because he is not a guy that has done it in the game before it is hard
to say that we need to move Mikey out there ahead of A.J.," said Richt.
"We have done one or two things to him, but I would like to see him get
on track more."
The Georgia coaches think Henderson is one of their emerging
playmakers and they think if they get the ball to him, he will do something
special with it.
"A guy his size has to have something extra. I mean he is fast and extremely
quick, but he has a great attitude and a lot of energy and a very positive attitude,"
said Richt of Henderson. "You like to see guys like that succeed because
that is contagious."
Dawgs work on punt protection
After giving up three blocked punts in two games, the
Georgia special teams unit is emphasizing punt protection this week.
"Gosh they have got to know and they like everybody
else know that they did a bad job and they know they made a mistake,"
said Richt. "They know we cannot do it again and expect to win, so it
was not like all of the sudden this week we will work hard on it. We work hard
on it all the time and even last week we worked especially hard on the thing
they got us on."
Coach Richt believes the struggles are an aberration and
then will get back on track this week.
"Tennessee did a good job and we did a poor job
and we cannot let it happen again," said Richt.
Sophomore tight end Tripp Chandler returned
to full contact Wednesday after limited work Monday and Tuesday following a
moderate concussion Saturday.
Redshirt freshman Donovon Baldwin (shoulder),
freshman Chris Davis (hip flexor), Tony Wilson
(shoulder), and senior Sean Bailey (knee) practice under limited
Baldwin and Chandler are both expected to play Saturday
Darius Dewberry is recovering from a minor
finger injury and he has practicing full speed all week without any problems.
Other Notes and Quotes
"Dewberry and Quintin Banks were having an interesting
session of who is going to knock down who kickoffs," said Richt of a practice
showdown between Dewberry and freshman safety Quintin Banks
on kick coverage. "It was pretty interesting stuff and Quintin is usually
the one knocking people down, but Dewberry got the best of him today."
"They blitz a good bit and they have a few (blitzes) they like a lot and
they always have one or two you have not seen," said Richt of Vanderbilt's
defense. "They do not blitz anymore often they anyone else and I think
like everybody they have a pretty good blitz package.""I would say
he is closer to the young man at Colorado (Bernard Jackson) by comparison,"
said Richt of Vanderbilt quarterback
Chris Nickson. "He is very agile
and tough and a very accurate."
"It is truly one game at a time and I am not so
concerned about the second half of the season as I am this game and we need
to get another victory to start feeling like Georgia again," said Richt
of being the at the midpoint of the season. "That is the goal and the
"Another wonderful Wednesday getting ready for Vanderbilt
and I thought the players did a great job overall," said Richt of Wednesday's
practice. "I think the scout team gave excellent effort and the weather
was beautiful. We came out of it healthy, so that is a good Wednesday."
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