September 15, 2010

Injury could sideline top punt returner

Georgia could be without its starting punt returner and one of its top cornerbacks after sophomore Branden Smith suffered an apparent head injury during practice Tuesday.

According to head coach Mark Richt, the injury - which left Smith with "concussion-like symptoms" - has left the Atlanta native's status for Saturday's game against Arkansas in question.

"He got knocked out of bounds yesterday in practice," Richt said. "He had a contact-related headache and I'm not even sure of his status to be honest with you."

If Smith is unable to play, Richt said the Bulldogs are expected to turn to Carlton Thomas and Logan Gray as the primary punt returners. Sanders Commings and Jordan Love would benefit the most from Smtih's absence in the secondary.

Smith's injury wasn't the only one of note.

Richt added that nose Justin Anderson is doubtful for Saturday after re-aggravating a turf toe injury. Fullback Shaun Chapas didn't' practice again Wednesday and is not expected to play after spraining his ankle during the South Carolina game.

The news was better for linebacker Christian Robinson (knee contusion) and Branden Wood (tendinitis). According to Richt, both players are expected to play.

Practice intensity picks up

Both Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham warned that the practice intensity was going to be intensified in light of last Saturday's tackling issues against South Carolina.

Apparently that's been the case.

"Our practices have been good, but apparently not good enough in regard to simulating tackling without tackling, which is what we call thud," Richt said. "So, we tried to come up with something a little more intense than thud but still not to the point of grabbing guys and throwing them to the ground. You tackle to the ground all day long in practice you tend to get people hurt, but we ramped it up a little bit more. Our thud, I'll just say it got intensified a little bit."

Offensive line coach Stacy Searels has been making his own point with his players.

"Coach Searels has been riding them pretty hard. He always rides them hard, but he has been pretty intense," Richt said. "It's been pretty intense the last couple of days."

No lineup changes expected

Richt said he doesn't anticipate any starters losing their jobs as a result of the loss to South Carolina, although more backups will be given the opportunity to show what they can do.

"I would just say we'll get to see a few more guys, a couple of different guys," Richt said. "I'm not sure if anybody unseated anybody as a starter, but I think we'll see more playing time by some of the backups."

One of those players is expected to be redshirt freshman nose Kwame Geathers. With Anderson listed as doubtful, Geathers is expected to see additional time at the position rotating in for starter DeAngelo Tyson.

More freshmen impressing

Richt singled out freshman safety Alec Ogletree and linebacker Demetre Baker for their play.

The coach added that he hopes to see Ogletree start to learn enough of the defense so he can start getting more work in scrimmage downs.

"The guy will hit you, there's no question about that," Richt said.

As for Baker, Richt sees potential there, too.

"Demetre has really shown signs of being able to run and strike," Richt said. "He plays with a lot of energy to where when we watch him we think he's going to be a good player one day."

NOTE A limited number of tickets are on sale for the Georgia-Idaho State game scheduled for Nov. 6 in Sanford Stadium. The tickets are part of the original allotment to Idaho State which have been returned. Tickets for the 12:30 p.m. kickoff are $45 each and can be purchased by calling the Athletic Association ticket office 1-877-542-1231.

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