September 13, 2009

Battle gets bad news on left knee

For the second week in a row, Georgia coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs are lamenting the loss of another player to a torn ACL.

Sunday, Richt confirmed that starting defensive end Roderick Battle's season is over after suffering the injury to his left knee in the second quarter of Saturday night's 41-37 win over South Carolina.

"Roderick's knee, he does have an ACL injury that will cost him the season," Richt said. "It's sad for Roderick first and foremost, no doubt and it's tough for us. But again, that's why you recruit and train guys and teach guys to play both end position type thing, that's why you cross-train a three-technique to play a five-technique, so you try to get to prepare for those moments. You don't want them to happen but you've got o prepare for them and we will be prepared."

Richt was unsure whether or not Battle would be able to qualify for a medical redshirt. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2005.

With Battle out, the return of Justin Houston could not have been more timely for the Bulldogs.

Houston missed Georgia's first two games while serving a suspension for violating team rules, but will be eligible when the Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0) travel to Arkansas for Saturday night's game in Fayetteville (7:45 p.m., ESPN).

"We're thankful that he will be able to play. He realizes he made a mistake, he paid his price and he was hurting," Richt said. "He wanted to play, but he understood the whole thing and now he's going to get his chance and I think he tried as hard as he could to stay in the best game shape that he could be in. He spent a lot of time after practice working on his own. He practiced hard, had a great attitude throughout it all knowing that his time was going to come and now it's here."

Battle's injury also assures more playing time for redshirt freshman Cornelius Washington and junior Kiante Tripp.

Tripp saw his first action at the position after missing the opener against Oklahoma State with a shoulder stinger, while Washington saw extensive action against the Gamecocks and was credited with 1 sacks.

Also, both Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens saw action at defensive end, giving Richt additional options.

A 6-4, 259-pound native of Atlanta, Battle left the South Carolina game in the second quarter due to an injured left knee. He has appeared in 36 career games for the Bulldogs including 22 starts. He started the first two games this season and had registered three tackles.

Offensively, the Gamecocks ran 83 offensive plays Saturday, 30 more than the Bulldogs. Saturday's game lasted three hours and 54 minutes. It was the Bulldogs longest since the 2008 Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii that took 4:05. It was the longest regular season game for the Bulldogs since 2002 when Georgia beat South Carolina in Columbia, and that marathon lasted 4:01.

But Richt was pleased with the way the offense performed.

Richt said he was thankful for Saturday's win and that he was pleased with how the offense performed.

Despite being outgained in total yardages 427 to 308, Georgia actually averaged more yards per play than the Gamecocks at 5.81 to 5.14, respectively.

Running back Richard Samuel ran strong and effective, picking up 65 yards on 15 carries with one touchdown while quarterback Joe Cox completed 17 of 24 passes for 201 yards and two scores.

"The offensive line played better, Richard ran better, we did a better job of getting more guys involved," said Richt. "We said let's get more guys an opportunity to make plays. Winning is the most positive thing. You create or deflate momentum based on the outcome. We can build on what helped us win; there are corrections and praise."

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