September 5, 2011

Who replaces Tree?

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Starting Moe linebacker Alec Ogletree underwent successful foot surgery Monday at St. Mary's Hospital here in Athens.

Now, the question to be answered - who will replace the sophomore for Saturday's game against South Carolina (ESPN, 4:30 p.m.)?

Currently, three players are giving it their best shot - junior Mike Gilliard, senior walk-on Jeremy Sulek and true freshman Amarlo Herrera.

"Today, It was me and Amarlo with the ones," Gilliard said after practice Monday. "Jeremy's in there, too, but that's what it was this afternoon."

Doctors still expect Ogletree to be out for anywhere between four and six weeks.

"I'm just approaching it like I'm trying to go out and do what Tree did," said Herrera, who recorded two tackles in limited playing time against Boise State. "I'm just trying to get serious, get my mind right and do what I can to help Tree out. Right now, we're all just competing to see whose going to get the most time in. Whoever does the best will have the job."

Ironically, when Ogletree went down early in the second quarter it was Sulek who received the most snaps and he responded by making seven tackles, tying him for the third-most on the team.

Gilliard did not see any action at Moe against the Broncos, but the Valdosta native explained there was a reason why.

"I got a bunch of questions about that Saturday (night). Everybody was asking me about it," Gilliard said. "Coach O (Kirk Olivadotti) could have put me out there, but he felt like I would be unfamiliar with it since I didn't play the position the whole preseason. I never practiced it, so he just decided to play the two guys in who had practiced (Sulek and Herrera) the whole preseason."

This week, Gilliard is getting reps at Moe, along with his usual position at Mike where he backs up Christian Robinson.

"Coach O told me to keep learning Mike but I played Money (Moe) all day today," he said. "I'm learning both of them. It's an opportunity, so I have to make the most of it if my number is called. I'm ready."

It's been suggested that Robinson could perhaps slide to Moe which would allow Gilliard to play his more familiar role at Mike. Robinson, however, doesn't believe that will be the case.

"We've talked about it, but we think we have the depth," Robinson said. "Sulek did a great job, and Amarlo did, too, so we'll see how it goes. Those guys will battle for that spot."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]