Dawgs Trying to Get Gurley Back

Dawgs Trying to Get Gurley Back

ATHENS - Mark Richt looked out onto the practice field on Monday to see Todd Gurley walking around on his sprained left ankle.

"I watched him walking with his crutches over his shoulder, if that's a telltale sign," Richt said Tuesday. "Hopefully, it won't be too long."

Richt said Tuesday that "day-to-day" is just the best way to describe Gurley's injury status.

The sophomore running back, who was not at practice on Tuesday, left Georgia's game against LSU during the second quarter after rolling his ankle while getting tackled out of bounds.

"He's getting treatment as often as he can get it and still go to class," Richt said. "… You don't know how fast a guy will heal and how fast the swelling will go down."

Richt said Keith Marshall, who finished with 97 yards against LSU, is "very capable" of being the Bulldogs' feature back, taking 15-20 carries a game. He also mentioned rotating in freshman J.J. Green as well as Brendon Douglas, whose first collegiate carry was a 17-yard gain against South Carolina.

"If Todd is not able to go, we can count on those three and then we got to figure out what to do in the fourth position," Richt said. "We've had [Kyle] Karempelis play before. We've had [Brandon] Harton play before. A.J. Turman has been kind of moving towards a redshirt and we're not sure exactly what'll happen there, but I don't think this is going to be a long term enough situation where we start grabbing a guy out of his redshirt."

Wide receiver Chris Conley said the offense views Marshall, who has rushed for 213 yards on 51 carries and a touchdown this season, as a starter right alongside Gurley, who is third in the Southeastern Conference with 112.5 rushing yards per game.

"It's awesome to have a back like that, especially one who's considered, in quotation marks, back-up," Conley said. "… It's good to have good back who can play like that."

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he has noticed Green and Douglas are a bit more focused this week with Gurley missing the first two days of practice.

"We've just got to get them ready," Bobo said. "I'm glad we've got some depth there. It is young, but we've got to get those guys ready to play."

No targeting penalties for Bulldogs

Four games into the season, Georgia has avoided a targeting penalty.

The targeting rule, implemented this season, carries a 15-yard penalty, a player ejection and a one-half suspension (unless overturned by officials) if a player targets a defenseless opponent above the shoulders.

Richt said defenders such as safety Tray Matthews, who built a hard-hitting reputation among teammates during spring ball, are still retraining themselves in their tackling technique to avoid a targeting penalty. That, Richt said, has led to some secondary players overthinking their attack during a game and giving up big plays.

The secondary gave up seven passes of 20 or more yards against LSU, including touchdown catches of 48 and 39 yards.

"There's two plays [against LSU], quite frankly, that two young safeties weren't quite sure what to do at the moment of truth — 'Should I hit him? Should I go for the ball if I hit him? If I hit him high, I'll get kicked out of the game,'" Richt said. "… I think we probably over coached the targeting stuff."

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos said the interpretation of the rule can change depending on who is asked.

"We got to go out and follow our interpretation, go out there and tackle and … make sure we don't stick our head anywhere and make sure we don't hit guys to hard where their head goes backwards," Lakatos said.

Richt called it "wise" to increase safety measures in the game, something wide receiver Chris Conley echoed. Conley said he has heard less chatter from Georgia's defensive backs about the targeting rule now that the season is well under way.

"We've seen some happen at other schools, some questionable calls sometimes and we wonder about it, but I don't think everyone's going to be really as concerned about it until we have one of those calls in one of our games," said Conley, the SEC's representative on the NCAA Division Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. "I hope that as this rule continues to be used, there's more of a definitive answer to what targeting is and when it will be called," he said.

Preparing for Rocky Top

The Bulldogs will have Tennessee's fight song "Rocky Top" playing on repeat throughout practice this week.

The song will be played over the loud speaker, as per usual when Georgia prepares to play in Knoxville.

"We might hear it more at the facility than we do up there because we will hear it everywhere we go," Conley said of the coaches preparing the players for Neyland Stadium, which holds more than 102,000 people.

Wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, who reeled in the go-ahead touchdown pass from Aaron Murray against LSU, hasn't played in the Volunteers' stadium yet, but the redshirt sophomore is already well aware of its atmosphere.

"I think it's going to be crazier because we're on offense and they're going to be trying to distract us," Scott-Wesley said. "They're going to have all the noise going, the band's going to be playing. … There's going to be orange everywhere. It's going to be crazy."

Conley said the stands in Neyland Stadium seem like they just goes straight up as opposed to going out and up.

"When you're standing on the field, it actually looks like the stadium is coming over you where it's going straight up and it makes it so much louder," he said.

Scott-Wesley said he flat out hates the song "Rocky Top," as did tight end Jay Rome.

"Yeah, not a fan of the song," Rome said. "… It's just an annoying song."

Quick hits

Georgia's homecoming football game against Appalachian State will have an early afternoon kickoff.

The game on Nov. 9 is set for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff and will be shown on WSB-TV, Georgia announced this afternoon.

That means the next two homes games will be early ones for tailgaters. The Bulldogs home game against Missouri on Oct. 12 was set for a 12 p.m. kickoff on Monday. … Captains for Saturday's game are Conley, quarterback Aaron Murray, defensive lineman Garrison Smith and safety Connor Norman. … Rhett McGowan (neck), Jonathan Rumph (hamstring) and Brandon Harton (rib contusion) were all in green non contact jerseys at practice Tuesday. Shaquille Fluker (illness), Shaun McGee (illness) and James Deloach (concussion) were also out.

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