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Another Man Gone; Richt Worried About O-Line Depth

Entering what many believe to be a make-or-break year, Mark Richt is hemorrhaging offensive linemen.  This spring, Georgia lost senior starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant to his third knee injury.  Now, possible right tackle AJ Harmon is leaving the team for personal reasons.

UGA’s coach refused to elaborate on why the experienced junior is leaving when pressed on the matter.  “That’s kind of why you say it’s personal reasons.  Because it’s personal.  That’s all I can tell you about that.  I wish him the best.  Good kid.”

Georgia had a three-man battle — prior to Harmon’s departure — for the starting tackle jobs: Harmon, Cordy Glenn (a converted guard), and Justin Anderson (a former guard who played on the D-line last year).  Even if he didn’t win a starting job, the veteran Harmon was expected to be the Dawgs top backup at tackle.

Now UGA might be forced to give more playing time to freshmen.

“You’d like to have more depth by now,” Richt said yesterday.  “You’d like to have more guys waiting in the wings for their opportunity.  I’d rather not go through another cycle of freshmen playing; they kind of go through the program, and when they leave you’re playing freshmen again.  It really is not ideal.  But if that’s what it takes, that’s what we’ll do.”

For a team looking to re-establish its ground attack, the Dawgs are now thin on the offensive line and have lost their leading rusher from last year in Washaun Ealey.  As one writer warned last week, incoming tailback Isaiah Crowell isn’t going to have the kind of vet offensive line in front of him that Marcus Lattimore and Mike Dyer starred behind last year in their freshmen seasons.

Outwardly, Richt is putting on a brave face.  “I think we’ve got enough guys who can line up and play football at a very high level.”

But inwardly — facing the loss of one experienced tackle after another — one has to wonder if Richt is quietly humming this 1979 piece of cheese to himself:

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SEC Headlines – 4/26/11 Part Two

1.  Here’s more info on Billy Donovan’s hire of hoops assistant Matt McCall from Florida Atlantic.

2.  Pre-preseason publications are all over the board when it comes to Georgia’s finish in the SEC East this fall.

3.  Here’s a look at UGA’s post-spring depth chart for the offensive line… an area in flux after the injury to Trinton Sturdivant.

4.  If Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and DeAndre Liggins stay in the NBA draft, Kentucky’s history suggests they’ll go in the first round.

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Sturdivant’s Options Still Open At UGA

Georgia left tackle Trinton Sturdivant has now lost three seasons to ACL tears.  Last weekend’s injury has left the senior in a painful spot according to his coach, Mark Richt.

“He’s making the best of it right now.  But he’s certainly hurt.  Knowing you’ve gotta go through that rehab is no fun, and not being certain where you go next, so to speak, I think is tough on him right now.  But the goal for all of us is to rally around him and encourage him and help him rehab.  And also help him go wherever he chooses to go.”

Sturdivant could still choose to petition the NCAA for a medical hardship waiver that would allow him play next year with a sixth year of eligibility.

“He still has options what he can do,” Richt said.  “He just has to decide.  Right now I don’t think he’s in a position to make a decision like that.”

Perhaps now, but it’s difficult to imagine an NFL team giving him much of a chance after two ACL tears to one knee and one to his other.  His best bet — if he wants to continue to play football — would likely be for him to return to Georgia in an effort to prove to NFL scouts that he’s healthy.

Of course, that’s what he was trying to do this spring when he suffered his third knee injury.

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Bad News: UM’s Shackelford Tears ACL

Just days after Georgia suffered a key loss in the person of left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, now another SEC program has taken a blow via knee injury.

Starting Ole Miss weakside linebacker DT Shackelford will miss six to eight months — meaning he’ll likely be out for the 2011 season — to recover from a torn ACL suffered yesterday during practice.

The player will undergo surgery sometime in the next two weeks, according to an Ole Miss spokesperson.

Ironically, the two coaches seated atop the SEC’s two hottest seats are the men who will have to deal with these two recent ACL injuries to starters.  Not good.

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SEC Headlines – 4/11/11 Part One

1.  Florida’s defensive line looked great in Saturday’s spring game.  (Of course, the Gators had just seven healthy O-lineman to throw at them… which is my biggest concern with spring coverage.)

2.  There are still plenty of concerns about UF’s quarterback situation.

3.  Here’s more on Trinton Sturdivant’s third major knee injury at Georgia.  (Man, that story is a downer.)

4.  Sturdivant’s injury likely means UGA will have “a patchwork line.”

5.  Wondering about next year’s Kentucky basketball team?  Well, two of their freshmen-to-be looked awfully good playing for the US Junior National team this weekend.

More to come…

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UGA’s Sturdivant To Miss Season After Third Major Knee Tear

After enduring two ACL tears in the left knee during his Georgia career, offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant has now gone down with an ACL tear in his other knee.

The fifth-year senior suffered the injury during a scrimmage on Saturday.  He will undergo surgery to repair the knee “sometime this week.”

UGA has not said whether or not Sturdivant will miss the season, but it’s unlikely he could return by the fall.  It’s possible he could petition the NCAA for another season via medical hardship if he is out in 2011.

After being named a freshman All-American in 2007, he missed the 2008 and 2009 seasons with his previous knee injuries.  Last year he played in 12 games and started seven at left tackle.

First, this is a sad situation for Sturdivant.  On a personal level, the young man has continued to battle back, recuperate and rehabilitate his knees to no avail.  After returning twice previously, now he must go through the same routine again.  Even if he chooses to hang up his cleats, he’ll still have to go through the rehab process… which isn’t pleasant.

Second, the injury is a cause for concern for the Bulldogs.  Cordy Glenn — UGA’s right tackle — has four starts under his belt on the left side.  Whether he moves from right to left or not, new offensive line coach Will Friend will have to plug in a new, inexperienced body at one of his starting tackle spots.  Welcome to Athens.

Just a sad story to start the week.  For Georgia, and especially for Sturdivant.

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SEC Headlines – 1/26/11 Part Two

1.  Erving Walker’s “miracle” 30-foot three-pointer made up for two key missed free throws in Florida’s 104-91 double-overtime win at Georgia last night.

2.  Chandler Parsons took over in the second overtime.

3.  The loss was Georgia’s second in a row to an East foe at home.

4.  Mark Fox said he was proud of his team’s effort last night, “but we’ve got to win the heartbreaker.” 

5.  This writer believes “the sting from this one will linger for a while” for the Dawgs.

6.  A healthy Trinton Sturdivant is looking forward to spring practice in Athens.

7.  The mayor of Lexington has called for a study to determine the feasibility of redesigning and renovating Rupp Arena.  (In other words, he’s not onboard with the idea of a new downtown arena just yet.)

8.  Here’s a by-the-numbers look at UK’s basketball players this season.

9.  Bruce Pearl says “Tennessee is going to regain its identity for its toughness and physicality.”

10.  Festus Ezeli is the SEC’s most improved player this season.  By far.

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SEC Headlines 1/8/2011

1. Report: NCAA interview two men about whether they  delivered money to Cam Newton’s father.

2. Newton senior backup Neil Caudle may stay at Auburn as a grad assistant.

3. Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes: “To this day, we’re still not a great team. We’re very good, but not a great team”

4. The offensive tempos of both Auburn and Oregon present challenges for TV production crews.

5. Jon Solomon: “Saban has bumped himself into another bump-rule controversy.”

6. Saban on three of his players departing early for the pro ranks: “The labor situation in the NFL right now is something that each one of these guys has to sort of evaluate as a reality of how it could affect their development.”

7. The Mississippi State Bulldogs basketball team opens SEC play today and gets guard Dee Bost back in the lineup.

8. The Ole Miss basketball team heads to Gainesville to face the Gators.

9. How Arkansas can win the SEC West.

10. The East is the Beast in SEC hoops this year.

11. Georgia tackle Trinton Sturdivant will stay for his senior season.

12. UCF coach George O’Leary blames Georgia for starting the after-game Liberty Bowl scuffle

13. The Georgia basketball team opens SEC play at home with Kentucky today.

14. Patience, Florida football fans, patience.

15. A new routine for the Vols - game days without Bruce Pearl.

16. The Tennessee football welcomes a Notre Dame transfer while Luke Stocker joins two other SEC tight ends at the Senior Bowl.

17. The Kentucky basketball program is disappointed in the Enes Kanter ruling.

18. The Vandy basketball team doesn’t fear the road.

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