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After spraining his ankle in second quarter of Saturday's 44-41 win over LSU, running back Todd Gurley's status for Saturday's game at Tennessee (3:30, CBS) is up in the air.
"He sprained his ankle and he's day-to-day," head coach Mark Richt said during Sunday's weekly teleconference with reporters.
Richt added that the sophomore from Tarboro, N.C. does not need surgery, and whether or not he suits up just depends on how quickly he comes back during practice this week.
"You've just got to get that ankle secure as soon as you can and get him ready as soon as you can," Richt said of Gurley, who actually ran back to the locker room after suffering the injury but returned for the second half minus his pads and wearing an air cast over his left ankle.
If Gurley can't go, the Bulldogs will turn to sidekick Keith Marshall who rushed 20 times for 96 yards against LSU, along with true freshman J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas who will be getting addition reps this week in practice.
Douglas rushed twice for two yards against LSU which Green had a huge 18-yard run to set up Aaron Murray's game-winning pass to Justin Scott-Wesley with 1:47 left to play.
"My guess is Todd is going to be limited on the amount of reps he gets," Richt said. "So the reps he doesn't get, those guys will so they'll have to get ready to play."
Gurley's health wasn't the only big topic of conversation Sunday.
So was the Bulldogs defense, which although did well against the run holding the Tigers to 77 rushing yards, but struggled mightily on third down.
LSU converted 10 of 15 third downs against the Bulldogs, including a third-and-22 during the Tigers' final touchdown drive of the afternoon to take a 41-37 lead.
"On first and second down I thought we stopped the run extremely well, at least slowed it down. We got ourselves into some good situations on third down as far as distance on what had to be gotten for a first down but we didn't get the stops and a lot of their biggest plays were on third down," Richt said. "We've got to keep trying to get everybody into those situations but then we've got to get off the field. We just didn't do a good enough job of that. It is kind of a building process to get an offensive team into that type of situation. To do it over, over and over is great, but if you don't finish it, they're going to score points."
Richt attributed those issues to a couple of factors.
"I think it's growing and you've got to put more pressure up front. You've got to put pressure on the quarterback. We had some success, we had some balls batted, we had some sacks (four) and pressures, but when the protection was clean and Zach (Mettenberger) had the opportunity to step up and let it rip, we didn't cover well enough. We had some opportunities to make some plays that we didn't make," Richt said. "In a game like that just one more stop might have kept them from getting seven more points on the board and it may not have been as dramatic of a finish."
Georgia improved to No. 6 in the both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Top 25 football polls.
Richt said left Kenarious Gates tweaked his ankle but is expected to be fine for Tennessee.
Richt reiterated how proud he was of his offensive line, which did not allow a sack to LSU. "Part of it I think is competition. When you have substitutions and the coaches communicate they they're evaluating guys, I think it helps, plus there seems to be more energy," Richt said. "It's good for morale and I think healthy for everybody."
Richt said he hasn't give much thought to going up against former assistants John Jancek and Willie Martinez, currently the defensive coordinator and secondary coach, respectively, at Tennessee. "I consider those guys good friends but we're going to compete," Richt said. "We're looking at tape, not pictures in the media guide. We're just looking at film and formulating a plan and I'm sure they're doing the same."
Richt said fullbacks Quayvon Hicks and Merritt Hall will probably split time moving forward in the Bulldog backfield.
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