Starting free safety Tray Matthews missed practice Wednesday after straining his left hamstring Tuesday, according to director of sports medicine Ron Courson.
Coach Mark Richt said after practice that Matthews had “tweaked” the hamstring.
“We’ll see how bad it was, but it was bad enough where he couldn’t go today,” Richt said.
Asked who would replace the freshman as the starter if he can’t go, Richt said he didn’t know. Another freshman, Quincy Mauger, is listed as his backup.
“I don’t know sometimes means I don’t want to tell everybody, but I’m not really exactly sure how we’ll do it,” Richt said. “We’ll have to make some decisions if in fact he can’t go.”
Matthews missed much of preseason practices with a pulled hamstring and he was also bothered by a shoulder injury.
The freshman from Newnan is fifth on the team with 20 tackles and has the Bulldogs’ only interception.
“Everything happens for a reason right,” Matthews tweeted.
Georgia is coming off a game in which it gave up 372 passing yards to LSU, but Tennessee isn't expected to present the same type of passing threat.
Gurley hasn’t practiced this week after spraining his left ankle in the second quarter against LSU Saturday.
He’s missed all three practices this week, but Richt didn’t rule him out for Saturday.
“A lot of times it depends on a guy and what type of a veteran he is,” Richt said. “If a guy knows what to do and he feels great on Saturday even though he didn’t feel good on Wednesday, I think I’d still play him anyway.”
Richt indicated Keith Marshall is likely to start even if Gurley is available.
Gurley "tried a little bit today in the (training) room,” Richt said. “He knew he couldn’t go today.”
Georgia glad Ball stayed put
Georgia will go up against two former assistants under Richt when it plays at Tennessee.
It could have been three.
Wide receivers coach Tony Ball, who has been on staff with the Bulldogs since 2006, interviewed in late February to be Tennessee’s running backs coach, a position he coached for three seasons at Georgia.
“The opportunity was there,” Ball said. “I went up and visited. I’m very appreciative of the fact that they were interested and they gave me an opportunity to come up and visit with them and so I’m very appreciative of that. Obviously, with Willie (Martinez) and (John) Jancek being there and our prior relationships here, that had a contributing factor.”
Ball got a $50,000 raise to bring his annual salary to $260,000.
“Tennessee’s obviously a top-tier program, everybody knows that,” Ball said. “It warranted my attention.”
Georgia’s receivers haven’t missed a beat after top wideout Malcolm Mitchell went down with a torn ACL in the opener. Georgia’s receiving corps also withstood season-ending knee injuries to Michael Bennett and Marlon Brown last season.
“Tony’s done a great job,” Richt said. “He’s a great teacher. They all run good routes and they know what to do, and we’re in a cycle where we’ve had guys around for a while. ...It's just so nice to have the same coordinator, the same receivers coach for all that time."
Vols go gray
Tennessee sent out an email to fans earlier this week trying to sell the limited amount of tickets left for the game and included this: “See the debut of the new Smokey Gray jerseys.”
Georgia tight end Jay Rome wasn’t too impressed.
“You’re going to play the same way you’re going to play,” Rome said. “What you’re wearing ain’t going to matter how you’re going to play. It’s all about preparation and playing football, practicing. I know they’re going to be ready to play whether they wear orange, white, whatever they wear.”
Georgia defensive lineman Garrison Smith had this unique take: “I’ll go out there and play in my birthday suit. It doesn’t matter. As long as I’ve got my shoulder pads and my helmet on, I’m going to be good.”
Saturday will be the third time since the 1930s that a Volunteers team has worn anything other than orange at home.
“When you win, everyone loves them and wants you to do it again,” Richt said. “When you lose, they want to burn them. You can’t even give them away. That goes for helmets, too.”
Georgia had a blowout victory against Auburn in 2007 in its first blackout but the second blackout turned into a bust when it was stomped by Alabama in 2008. The Bulldogs broke out black helmets in another lopsided loss to Florida in 2009
“I know a lot of guys on the team talk about wearing the black jersey,” safety Josh Harvey-Clemons said. “I feel like it shouldn’t matter what color jerseys you wear because we’ve lost games in our white jerseys. We didn’t stop wearing those. We just leave that up to the coaches to decide.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray talked about wanting black jerseys for the last home game against Kentucky.
“It definitely adds a little bit of juice to you,” he said. “You look good, you feel good, you play good.”
This and that
Wide receiver Michael Bennett worked on the side with a trainer in the portion of practice open to the media on Wednesday. “He hit his knee yesterday,” Richt said. “It was bothering him, but he worked during the competitive phase just on the side and when we got to scout team work, he did the scout team work. We think he’ll be fine.”
Receiver Jonathon Rumph (hamstring) did not practice, at least during the first part of practice Wednesday.
Murray is one of seven SEC players and 170 semifinalists nationally named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation postgraduate scholarship and Campbell Trophy for top football scholar-athlete.
Georgia returned approximately 1,000 of the 8,500 tickets the schools was allotted by Tennessee following donor sales, according to UGA.