October 5, 2013

Injuries a major concern


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Rantavious Wooten postgame from UGASports.com on Vimeo.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Even Mark Richt couldn't escape the carnage during Saturday's 34-31 overtime win over Tennessee.

As he sat down to begin his post-game press conference, Richt pinched his left pinkie finger in his chair, causing it to bleed all over his hand.

It was the second straight mishap for Richt, who in the first half was rolled onto the turf.

But despite his own personal aches and pains, Richt's post-game angst had nothing to do with his own issues but his players, who seemingly dropped like flies throughout the game.

"You guys can ask me anything you want," Richt said. "You can ask me about injuries, but I'll say I don't know."

It's no wonder Richt felt the way he did.

The Bulldogs lost four starters to various injuries, including running back Keith Marshall, wide receiver Michael Bennett, wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley and punter Collin Barber.

Apparently, we're not talking minor ones, either.

Marshall and Bennett both suffered what appeared to be significant injuries to their knees, while Scott-Wesley appeared to catch his foot in the turf during a kickoff before crumpling to the turf. The three players all wore walking boots after the game, while Marshall was seen hobbling off on crutches.

Barber suffered a concussion.

"I don't now know what the carnage is right now, we'll just have to wait and see," Richt said. "I purposely didn't talk to Ron Courson (team trainer) yet before I talked to you because I just didn't want to say anything to anybody. I'm just not in the mood to talk about it right now, but sooner or later we'll find out what's wrong and let you guys know."

The injuries to Bennett and Scott-Wesley occurred in the third quarter while Marshall's took place in the second.

Georgia was already playing without star tailback Todd Gurley who sprained his ankle in the second quarter last week against LSU.

Richt said he hopes Gurley will be ready for Saturday's game against Missouri.

"I'm not counting on this game here," Richt said. "I'd be really surprised if he couldn't make it for Vanderbilt (two weeks). I think it's probably 50-50 on this one."

Special team issues haunt team again

For the second time this year, Georgia had a punt blocked for a touchdown that left Richt more than just a little perturbed.

"We thought we did (have it worked out)," Richt said. "But they came, and pressured. They're not a heavy pressure team, but they saw a possibility and they said 'let's see if Georgia can figure it out.' They came at least three or four times. The other times we put our hat on them did fine, but we had a guy whiff. We needed a block and he missed him."

Tennessee's block and subsequent score enabled the Vols to tie the game at 17, causing Barber to suffer his concussion on the play.

Three weeks ago, North Texas blocked a punt and recovered for one of the Mean Green's three scores.

"We just can't have it," Richt said.

Wooten comes up big

With Bennett and Scott-Wesley out, senior Rantavious Wooten knew he be looked upon to step up for the receiving corps Saturday against Tennessee.

He did just that six passes for 38 yard, but most importantly making a diving catch just in front of Aaron Murray that enabled the Bulldogs to tie the game with just five seconds left in regulation.

"It was one of those things where I had been running all night and I knew I could get inside and take his leverage away," Wooten said. "That's what I did and Murray threw me the ball where I was the only one who could get the catch."

The touchdown was Wooten's second of the day after catching a 4-yarder from Murray to extend Georgia's lead to 17-3 in the second quarter.

Typically, Wooten might not have even been in position to make the play.

Wooten usually lines up at flanker, but due to the injuries lined up at split end.

"We've been training him at the Y because of the injuries we had and he came up big tonight," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "We tried to switch them up there at the end and direct the ball to (Chris) Conley, but they played a certain coverage where it had to go to Woot and Murray did a nice job of finding him."

Wooten was just relieved he was able to make the play.

"It was just my second time playing the Y," he said. "It definitely was a new experience for me playing inside. It's tough having to block guys that outweigh me by 30 pounds, but I feel I have the ability to make plays and get open."

This and that

Besides kicking the 42-yard game-winner, Morgan also boomed a personal best 56-yarder to give Georgia a 3-0 lead. It was the longest FG for the Bulldogs since Blair Walsh kicked a 56 yarder versus Buffalo in 2011. It was also the longest in Neyland Stadium history. … Junior DE Ray Drew now has three sacks in the last two games after recording a pair against the Vols. He came into the season with half a sack in his career. Drew finished with five tackles. Junior ILB Ramik Wilson is led the team with 15 tackles. This is Wilson's second career game with 10+ tackles. Junior ILB Amarlo Herrera had 11 stops. … Freshmen free safety Quincy Mauger and DB Shaq Wiggins got their first career start. Mauger started for freshman safety Tray Matthews who remained at home with a strained hamstring. Matthews started the first four games but injured his hamstring in practice this week. The Bulldogs have started five true freshmen on defense this year.


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