August 19, 2009

Jones' ankle injury gives Dawgs a scare

Starting center Ben Jones suffered an apparent ankle injury during practice Wednesday, but so far UGA officials are not saying exactly what it was or how long the Alabama sophomore might be out.

"No comment, absolutely no comment," head coach Mark Richt said as he entered his office following Thursday's press conference at the Butts-Mehre Building.

Georgia sports information Claude Felton was trying to reach head trainer Ron Courson for further details although Jones was seen leaving the Butts-Mehre Building on crutches.

Richt was asked about Jones during his daily press conference, but offered no insight.

"Ben has had a great preseason," Richt said. "He's been fine."

If Jones is lost for any amount of time, the Bulldogs would appear to have two options, either install junior Kevin Perez, or more likely slide left guard Chris Davis to center with senior Vince Vance taking over at left guard.

Year in the books benefits Samuel

No, Richard Samuel hasn't changed his running style. From a technical standpoint, he's doing just about the same things as he did last fall.

But according to running backs coach Bryan McClendon, there is one big difference for the sophomore compared to this time a season ago.

"I think the thing that's helped Richard the most is he knows more. He knows what to do and he's been able to get in that playbook," McClendon said of Samuel, who sat out the spring while recovering from wrist surgery. "That was one point of emphasis when he wasn't going through the spring and he was at every meeting because I wanted him asking questions. I wanted him to know what's going on because I didn't want to have to go back and re-teach him after he's been here a whole year. Taking that serious and learning what to do have helped him the most."

Samuel's progress has certainly been apparent on the practice field.

In Georgia's two scrimmages, Samuel has rushed 18 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns, while taking a pass 70 yards for another score.

Along with redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas, the two appears to have set themselves atop the depth chart at running back, following the recent injuries to Caleb King (hamstring) and Dontavius Jackson (knee).

McClendon acknowledged the pair has taken advantage of the situation.

"There's no doubt. I think both those guys are taking advantage of it, and some of those other guys," McClendon said. "You've got Kalvin Daniels who never would have gotten some of those reps that he has, and he's actually been able to do what he can to earn him some playing time or earn him a spot on the depth chart."

Wooten feeling more comfortable

As the Bulldogs get closer and closer to their season-opener at Oklahoma State, freshman Rantavious Wooten said he continues to get more comfortable with Georgia's offensive scheme.

"I feel that I've shown that I can catch the ball and get upfield. I think I've showed that I can make plays," Wooten said. "I'm ready to do whatever my coaches ask me to do."

The 5-foot-11 Wooten said he's gotten his weight up to 175 pounds, and when Georgia is in a three-receiver set, has played all three spots (the X, Y and Z).

"It really doesn't matter to me just as long as I'm on the field making plays," Wooten said.

CMR fine with shaking hands

Before Georgia and Oklahoma State take the field, the two teams will meet at midfield to shake hands.

Although not mandatory, this one-time gesture as proposed by the American Football Coaches Association is designed to help curb some of the unsportsmanlike conduct that takes place on the field and in the stands.

"If it helps everybody have better sportsmanship or if that is a symbolism of sportsmanship where young kids who watch will ask their dads what we're doing and he explains it, I think it's a good thing," Richt said. "I'm all for it."

The AFCA will discuss with the NCAA whether or not to eventually make the process a season-long routine.

This and that

Richt was pleased with Wednesday's workout after a subpar effort Tuesday. "I think the boys did a lot better," Richt said. "I think the weather helped them some, it was overcast most of the time, it was a little bit cooler and they practiced with a lot more energy. I judge those practices by how hard I think they're working and how focused I think they are doing what we ask them to do. I thought it was a good day in that regard."

• Richt said that Logan Gray may still be looked as an option at punt returner from the 10-yard line in as he was last year. "Logan will be back there for a fair catch and to decide whether to let it roll," said Richt. "It's not a high risk unless somebody takes a shot when he's trying to fair catch one, and he might return one if it's a shank."

• There have been some changes at kick returner. Richt said Wednesday that the team is now looking at Brandon Boykin, Richard Samuel, Bryan Evans and Branden Smith at that position. Prince Miller continues to be the main player on punt returns.

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