Dawgs over Jackets: Notebook
D.J. Shockley
D.J. Shockley
Reporter
Posted Nov 28, 2004


ATHENS — Backup quarterback D.J. Shockley heard the boos late in the second half, but they don’t bother him, he said.

“That’s fans,” Shockley said. “Fans are always going to want somebody in who is doing good. I really wasn’t listening to it, I was just trying to help my team win.”

Playing in place of injured starter David Greene, Shockley did well in the first half, completing 3 of 7 passes for 91 yards in a touchdown, but he fell apart in the second half. After halftime, he completed just 2 of 9 passes for 11 yards and failed to lead the Bulldogs into Georgia Tech territory.

Still, he hasn’t lost confidence in his ability.

“There’s no way I can lose any confidence,” he said. “Every quarterback is not going to play good every single play or every series. You’re going to have good games, you’re going to have bad game. You just have to keep your head up and keep playing.”

Coach Mark Richt hasn’t lost faith in his backup either, who he promised again after the game will be the undisputed starter next year.

“The moment our bowl game is over, he’s going to be our guy,” Richt said, “and we’re going to build the offense around him, and I think everybody is going to be real pleased.”

INJURY UPDATE: Georgia is hopeful Greene will be able to play in its bowl game but isn’t sure. Either way, he’ll end his career as the leading passer in SEC history. He earned that record in the first quarter with a 7-yard pass to Fred Gibson. He now has 11,264 career passing yards, 63 more than former leader, Tennessee’s Peyton Manning.

“ I don’t know how serious that (injury) is,” Richt said. “I think (director of sports medicine) Ron Courson felt like there’s a realistic shot of him playing in the bowl game.”

He’s not the only Bulldog who will be monitoring health issues, either. Running back Danny Ware, who shares snaps with starter Thomas Brown, broke his hand in the first half and is questionable for the bowl game. He left Saturday’s game with his right hand in a cast.

“It’s very difficult for a running back to play with a broken hand,” Richt said.

Wide receiver Fred Gibson thinks he’ll only need two weeks to heal from a severe hip pointer that kept him out the final three quarters. Gibson wasn’t sure when he suffered the injury.

“I think one of those big offensive linemen fell on me,” he said.

Fullback Jeremy Thomas missed the whole second half after being poked in the eye.

“I couldn’t hold it open for a long time straight,” he said.

BOWL BUSINESS: The Bulldogs’ narrow victory kept alive its hopes of returning to the Capital One Bowl, but some school officials still think that is LSU’s game to lose. “I can’t speak for (the Capital One Bowl), but I’ve heard that,” said Bernie O’Brien, the head of the Outback Bowl selection committee.

The Outback Bowl figures to be Georgia’s destination if it doesn’t get the Capital One Bowl bid. The Capital One Bowl is the prime non-BCS destination for SEC teams because it has a payout of $5.25 million, the highest by far of any non-BCS bowl game.

And the Bulldogs are still a very viable candidate, said Capital One selection committee member Kerry Schwartz.

“We want the highest-ranked team that offers us a large television audience,” Schwartz said.

The Bulldogs will be ranked higher than the Tigers in the polls and the BCS standings at the end of the year and beat LSU 45-16 earlier this year, but there is the feeling that the Capital One Bowl would shy away from the Bulldogs since they played in the game last year.

Schwartz said that wasn’t true. The Capital One gets the first selection after the BCS picks. If it passes on Georgia, the Outback would have the next pick from the Eastern Division and almost certainly take the Bulldogs.

“I don’t even know if (the players) would have a preference or not,” Richt said. “I know all the bowls that are considering us are outstanding.”

LITTLE WHITE LIE: Just before the first kick of Brandon Coutu’s collegiate career, his head coach lied to him. He told Coutu his kick wasn’t going to mean the difference in the game.

“I said, ‘We’ve got the lead, our defense is going to hold them anyway, just relax and stroke the ball well,’” Richt said. “As it turns out, it probably was the game-winner.”

If Coutu had missed his kick, Georgia Tech would have needed only a field goal to tie the game on its final drive.

“I wasn’t too nervous,” Coutu said. “I’ve done it a million times in practice.”

Richt went with Coutu after regular starter Andy Bailey hit the left upright on an extra point attempt in the first half. Richt told Coutu athalftime that he would take over in the second half. Bailey has also missed his last PAT during Georgia’s warmups, Richt said.

“I didn’t feel like he was hitting the ball well at that time,” Richt said.

Coutu will go into the bowl game as the starting kicker.

TOUGH DAY: Everyone knows Georgia cornerback DeMario Minter was flagged for three pass interference calls against Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson on Saturday. Not everyone knows Minter played with a sprained left ankle.

“It’s still nagging, but I fought through it,” he said. “The weather didn’t make it any better, but I had to do it for the seniors.”’

All of the calls against Minter, including two in the end zone on one drive, were booed by the Georgia fans, but a Bulldog coach said only one of them was even questionable. Minter wasn’t so sure.

“I think it was just my day,” he said. “I think the officials were out to get me today.”

LINEBACKER SWAP: Sophomore Jarvis Jackson started his first game at linebacker since the Sept. 18 Marshall game. Jackson, who started two games at middle linebacker early in the year, took Danny Verdun Wheeler’s spot at weakside linebacker.

THIS AND THAT: Georgia’s senior class won its 41st game, second-most by any class in school history. ... Greene set a school record with his 51st straight start. ... The Bulldog defense posted a first half shutout for the first time since the 2003 South Carolina game.


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