November 22, 2011

What, no tip?

The Garner family Thanksgiving feast is right on schedule.

Come Thursday, some 30 or 40 Bulldogs will converge on the home of defensive line coach Rodney Garner for some real country cooking, prepared with love by his mom, aunt and wife Kim.

In what's become a tradition at the Garner household that started back when he was an assistant at Auburn and Tennessee, before coming to Georgia under former coach Jim Donnan.

"I hated eating in the dorm at Auburn when I was at Auburn on Thanksgiving. I thought it was the worst thing that ever happened," Garner said. "I'm from the country and I didn't think it was fair, that we had to eat cafeteria food, so when I got into coaching, I said I'm going to make sure my kids got some home-cooked food."

Planning a meal of this magnitude for 40 hungry football players is a chore all to itself.

Along with numerous trays of macaroni and cheese, dressing numerous turkeys, hams, cakes and pies, the Garner Thanksgiving feast has it all, including the one staple the Bulldog assistant would just as soon leave out - chitlins.

"I'm not a chitlin man. My mom asked me are we were going to do chitlins, I said yeah, they want them, but you all know the rules, when they leave, all the chitlins have got to go," Garner said. "I'm from the country, I've killed hogs, alright? I definitely know what it is. I don't know if they know, but I know."

According to Garner, his mom and aunt buy and cook the chitlins in Alabama and freeze before bringing the entire conglomeration to Athens.

Garner was asked if he ever had to make sure feeding the players was OK with the NCAA.

"You just feeding your players, man, it's an occasional meal. You can feed your players," Garner said. "If they want to throw me in jail for feeding players, go ahead. If I get one for feeding them, that's pretty good."

What ever food not taken home by players is taken by Garner to a local homeless shelter.

That is, if team chitlin champ Justin Anderson doesn't get his fill.

"Bean's going to eat him some chitlins," Garner said. "I've got plenty of hot sauce for him."

Safety Bacarri Rambo joked that Garner eats as much as anybody.

"He said what? Man, I'm not eating much of nothing," Garner said. "I'm like their doggone waiter - except they don't tip me."

Thomas continues to get work

Running backs coach Bryan McClendon said after practice Tuesday that junior running back Carlton Thomas continues to get work, but as for the role he'll be able to play Saturday, he's still not sure what that will be.

"Right now, he's one of the guys we've got in that we're preparing to play in this ball game but as far as a role, I really don't know," McClendon said. "I really can't answer that question right now."

Thomas, Ken Malcome, Kyle Karempelis and Brandon Harton each received reps Tuesday, while Isaiah Crowell was in a red jersey and sweats.

Crowell - who over the year has battled through a myriad of ailments including ones to his shoulder, leg, ankle, ribs and wrist, is expected to play.

McClendon was asked about the perception that Crowell, who despite leading the Bulldogs in rushing, has been criticized by some for having a low tolerance for pain.

"Everyone has different pain tolerances when it comes to different things. Football is definitely a physical game, so I don't think he's got to this point without playing with pain before, but it is a very intense, violent game and you've got to play through pain if you want to play," McClendon said. "You won't go through the course of a game without something coming up. What those something's are, it just depends on the person and how much they can and can't tolerate. But as far as actual injuries, you can't help those."

Grantham ready for Saturday's challenge

Yes, Georgia Tech is the nation's second-ranked rushing team averaging over 300 yards on the ground per game.

Yes, the Yellow Jackets gobbled up over 400 yards last year in Athens.

But as the Bulldogs prepare for Saturday's contest in Atlanta (noon, ESPN), defensive coordinator Todd Grantham hopes his defense's familiarity with the Jackets' triple-option attack will pay some dividends.

"It provides confidence. Our players are confident in their abilities," Grantham said. "Obviously it's a challenge for us because it's unique, but we've had challenges before and we're looking forward to playing them."

Georgia ranks second nationally against the run, giving up just over 80 yards per contest.

"You don't see it in pro ball, that's for sure, but I've seen it before and I know what you've got to stop," Grantham said. "You've just got to go out and execute."

This and that

Before arriving at the team hotel in Atlanta for Saturday's game, the Bulldogs will split into two groups, with one group visiting patients at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the other to the Shepherd Center. … Georgia worked out for two hours in full pads Tuesday, a workout that pleased Richt. "It was a solid practice," Richt said. "It was a good day of preparation. I'm pleased with the effort and focus. We still have a great deal to clean up before we take the field on Saturday."