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August 28, 2008Thursday was the final opportunity for Georgia coach Mark Richt and his staff to put their last touches on the game-plan for the Bulldogs' season-opener against Georgia Southern, which kicks off Saturday at 12:34 p.m. Like many fans, there's a lot he can't wait to find out for himself.
"There's just so much. I want to see how the offensive line responds, I want to see our receivers, I want to see how Blair (kicker Blair Walsh) responds to kicking in front of a big crowd," Richt said. "I want to see our freshmen, our redshirt freshmen, all the young men who will be playing for the first time."
Speaking of freshmen, Richt said he now expects 10 true freshmen to see action against the Eagles. Although he did not mention any other than Walsh by name, center Ben Jones, wide receivers A.J. Green and Tavarres King, offensive guard Cordy Glenn (who will start), linebacker Marcus Dowtin and running back Richard Samuel are almost assured of being included in the group.
Richt also said that several spots in the starting lineup are likely to remain in flux as well.
"We may have some situations where we might play a guy a quarter, but he's struggling and we might decide to put someone else in to give him a shot," Richt said. "There's a lot that's still very fluid."
That apparently appears to be the case when it comes to a couple of special teams roles. Richt said that either Walsh or freshman walk-on Jamie Lindley will serve as the Bulldogs' kickoff performer, although it will likely come down to a game-time decision.
"It's really too close to call," said Richt.
Another question that remains concerns whose going to return punts. Wednesday, coach Jon Fabris said he's been working as many as 12 different players at the position, and Richt said Thursday that he can't wait to find out for himself.
"It's going to be interesting, because I really don't have an idea," Richt said. "I don't know what Coach Fab is going to do."
Logan Gray and Carlton Thomas remain candidates for the position, but Richt didn't rule out Asher Allen receiving a few opportunities, although the Bulldog coach said he'd prefer that Allen not handle both punt and kickoff return duties.
"We've still got some questions, but I think everybody's ready to play," Richt said. "It's been a long preseason and camp. Everybody's ready to get this thing underway."
Saban gives his OK
Richt didn't have to ask Alabama coach Nick Saban permission to attend Saturday night's game at the Georgia Dome between the Crimson Tide and Clemson, where is son Jon is a freshman quarterback with the Tigers. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from watching opponents' games in person, but because he's the parent of a player, that rule does not apply.
Still, Richt elected to call Saban just to be sure.
"I just wanted to make sure (Saban) didn't have a problem, and he said he didn't have one at all," Richt said. "He even offered to call (SEC Commissioner Mike Slive) just to make sure there wasn't an issue."
Richt still hasn't decided if he will attend the Saturday night game. As of Thursday, he still wasn't sure if son Jon would actually dress out.
"He said he was, but I haven't heard for sure yet. You can't trust a freshman," Richt smiled.
If he does go, Richt said he won't be where the TV cameras will be able to catch a glimpse.
"I'm pretty sure nobody will be able to see me," he said.
This and that
The Dawg Walk is set for 10:45 at the West end zone entrance. ? The Mark Richt Show for Saturday's game against Georgia Southern will be shown Sunday at 1 p.m. on FSN South, followed at 7:30 and 10 p.m. on Sports South.
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