The reason is the improvement of sophomore Ken Shackleford, who started against Vanderbilt due to an injury to Dennis Roland.
“Shack was already working his way into more playing time, and all of a sudden, he got a start and did real well,” Coach Mark Richt said.
The No. 10 Bulldogs haven’t announced which two players will start against Arkansas on Saturday, but Shackleford will play on the split side and Roland will play on the tight side. Daniel Inman will rotate at both spots.
“I think it’ll help Roland if we have a three-man rotation, like we did (in 2002),” Richt said. “Those guys all played two-thirds of the game and stayed nice and fresh and healthy.”
The Razorbacks also will be juggling their tackles this week, but not by choice. Regular left tackle, Tony Ugoh, a junior, won’t start because he’s been battling a kidney stone all week. Freshman Robert Felton will take his place, meaning Arkansas will start two freshmen tackles against All-America defensive end David Pollack.
HEALTH CHECK: Georgia’s defensive coaches will watch Arkansas’ warmups closely Saturday in order to get an idea of how healthy Razorback quarterback Matt Jones is. Jones has been limited in practice this week due to a groin injury.
“We’ll look to see who looks like they’re gimpy,” Richt said. “You can learn a lot in pregame warmups, you really can.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Hawkinsville’s Charles Johnson was credited with two sacks against Vanderbilt, but one of those was taken away after a replay was watched. Still, Johnson, a defensive end, had his most productive game, playing 17 snaps and forcing a fumble.
He entered the game in the first quarter, “He has a long way to go,” defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. “(The media) likes him. He’s dynamic. He gets sacks, but he has a lot of information to take on.”
ON THE MOVE?: Backup running back Tyson Browning, who hasn’t played in three weeks due to the development of Danny Ware and Thomas Brown, said this week he would like to explore moving back to wide receiver after the season. He might not have to wait that long.
“We would consider it before that,” Richt said. “We may decide to do it next week, I don’t know.”
Browning and Michael Cooper, who face a discouraging future since Ware and Brown are freshmen, are making the best of their situation, they said this week.
“People say, ‘You let freshmen come in and take your job,’” Browning said. “They’re not freshmen, they’re men. Those boys are ballplayers, especially Danny. Danny runs like a grown man.”
“It’d be easy for me and Tyson and Tony (Milton) to cry and whine and mope, but why?” Cooper said.
BAD SIGN: Georgia’s punt return situation has seemed perpetually close to disaster this year because of returners who don’t catch the ball cleanly, and this could be the week it burns the Bulldogs.
The Razorbacks allow just 1.9 yards per punt return, fifth-best in the SEC. Arkansas’ average per punt is 37.4 yards, the lowest total in the league, which allows its cover men to be very close to a player when he catches the ball.
“Their gunners do a nice job of being right there on you,” Richt said.
Richt expects Thomas Flowers, who dropped his first punt return last week, to remain the starter this week, but assistant coach Jon Fabris makes that call and never discusses it with the media before games.
“I think Flowers probably will still be the guy,” Richt said. “He picked (his fumble) up quick and made a nice run.”
THE RIGHT TIME: Richt is looking forward to the Bulldogs’ first night game of the season, he said Thursday.
“Night games are exciting,” he said. “You don’t like waiting on them to start, but there is something about playing under the lights. The players just seem to have a little more energy.”