October 4, 2011

Latest on Burnette

Chris Burnette returned to the practice field for the first time since his knee injury against Coastal Carolina and offensive line coach Will Friend said after practice Tuesday he's hopeful the redshirt sophomore will be ready to go Saturday against Tennessee.

"He practiced today, he moved around well," Friend said. "We'll play it by ear and see how it goes the rest of the week."

The starter at right guard for Georgia's first three games, the former Troupe County standout missed the last two contests against Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

If in fact he is able to play, Friend said he would immediately move back into the starting lineup in place of sophomore Kenarious Gates.

"He's the starter, so he's not just a depth guy, you'd like to have him for starting purposes," Friend said. "If he's back and 100 percent, he left as a starter and will come back as a starter."

Gates, meanwhile, would be free to rotate in at both left and right guard, but also potentially both tackles, Cordy Glenn and Justin Anderson.

All five of Georgia's starting offensive linemen have taken every single snap for the Bulldogs the past two week.

"Right now Burnette and Lee are the two starters if they're all healthy, with Gates playing a lot," Friend said. "We'd kind of roll those guys in play, plus Gates, if everybody is healthy, is able to get some backup reps at tackle, too, which is big."

Freshman David Andrews is apparently getting closer to seeing some time as well.

According to Friend, he was all set to spell starting center Ben Jones with Andrews had Georgia been able to score during one of its second-half possessions last week against Mississippi State.

But the Bulldogs could only manage a field goal and Andrews stayed on the sideline.

"David's doing well," Friend said. "He's doing good enough to play and deserves to play but you've got to play your best (players)."

Grantham coy on Washington replacement

It looks like Tennessee coaches will have to guess who replaces Cornelius Washington at Will linebacker for Georgia come Saturday night in Knoxville.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham certainly isn't telling.

When asked who he's got in mind, Grantham didn't offer a specific answer.

"It's an unfortunate situation but during the season you're always preparing for things that could happen," he said. "Like I've said before, it creates opportunities and guys are going to get their opportunities to what they can do."

Grantham did seem to drop a hint regarding freshman Ray Drew, who has played in two of Georgia's five games thus far.

"He's doing fine. He's a guy who's arrow is definitely up. He's going to continue to progress and I think for you guys, the plays you will see him make down the road, you'll be pretty impressed," Grantham said. "He's a talented guy who continues to get better and as he continues to progress, those production plays and everything else will go up."

But Grantham also added that Drew, along with everyone else on Georgia's defense, has to earn his playing time.

"You earn playing time in our defense. As guys move forward, they earn it," Grantham said. "He's (Drew) earned the right to play, along with some other guys. We're going to take the guys on our depth chart and play."

Tight ends keeping it in the family

Tight end Orson Charles said it always helps to have a support system - especially when that support includes words of wisdom from the likes of Randy McMichael and Ben Watson.

The two former Bulldogs - themselves former tight end stars at Georgia - stay in regular contact with Charles.

"I've definitely talked to him a couple of times. He (McMichael) called me after one of my games, helped me with a couple of things," Charles said. "Me and Ben (Watson), we're very close, they both help me with what I need to improve on, little stuff like that."

For Charles having McMichael (San Diego) and Watson (Cleveland) at his disposal is a resource he intends to take as much advantage of as he can.

"I talk to Ben every week to tell you the truth. He definitely watches all the games and tells me what I need to work on and Sunday's I'll watch him play, then tell him what I think," he said. "It definitely means a lot and I appreciate them being in my corner. We're really a family here. And if I'm blessed to go (to the NFL), I'll definitely keep in contact with the younger guys here. I definitely respect them for doing that, because they've been through it all."

• Charles said he couldn't believe it when somebody sent him a picture of Mississippi State defensive back Nickoe Whitley relieving himself on the hedges at Sanford Stadium last Saturday during Georgia's 24-10 win. "I didn't think somebody did that in public, like for real? Come on, you've got to have better class than that," said Charles, who added he'd never even dream of doing such a thing. "Heck no, I'd just ask Coach (Mark) Richt, can I go to the bathroom. I'm not going to pee on the hedges in front of 92,000 people. Come on, you've got to have better sense than that."

This and that

Richt was pleased with the Bulldogs' physical workout Tuesday which lasted for more than two hours. "It was a good day," Richt said in a statement. "We got better today. The scout team did a good job giving us a very solid look. I thought the focus was very good. I would definitely say we got better today." … Friend said that redshirt sophomore Austin Long "is not ready yet" to contribute as a backup on the offensive line. … Cornerback Brandon Boykin and wide receiver Israel Troupe were both in green during practice Tuesday. Earlier, Richt said that Boykin would not take part in any contact drills due to the mouth injury he suffered when he had three of his front teeth knocked loose. However, he is still scheduled to play against Tennessee.

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