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Bulldogs continue to search for answers at linebacker

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Notebook: Bulldogs continue to search for answers at linebacker

ATHENS - Georgia's linebacker depth chart is written in pencil these days, not just from day to day but from drill to drill.

"I wouldn't say it's solidified," linebackers coach John Jancek said. "They're still competing for starting positions. We've started a number of different guys at different spots and we're going to keep shaking the lineup up practice by practice."

After a tryout at backup weakside linebacker, Brandon Miller has been back in his starting spot on the strongside the past two practices, pushing Danny Verdun Wheeler to a backup role again. The Bulldogs still view Miller primarily as a strongside linebacker, Jancek said, but nothing is set in stone.

"We change them in and out during practice," he said. "As we get closer to the first ballgame, you have to start to settle in, especially when you start game planning, but I think (the rotating) will be ongoing throughout the year. I keep referring to last season as an example. If we didn't have that flexibility to move guys around, I don't know what we would've done (due to injuries)."

Georgia already has been nagged by minor injuries at linebacker this fall. True freshman Darius Dewberry of Peach County suffered the most serious of those, leaving practice Monday morning with a pulled groin muscle. Dewberry could miss up to two weeks, head coach Mark Richt said, but still is expected to play this year.

"I think it's a fairly significant pull," Richt said. "I think it'll take a week or two. He pulled it pretty good."

Starting middle linebacker Jarvis Jackson is "day-to-day" due to a foot injury, he said. He tried to practice Monday but left after aggravating the injury. He's now "day-to-day," he said. Backup weakside 'backer Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder) didn't practice fully in either of Monday's sessions but said afterward that he wasn't hurt and coaches were merely being cautious. He is suspended for the first three games of the season.


What Richt is saying publicly about the quarterback competition is the same thing he's saying privately, freshman Matthew Stafford said.

"He just said everybody did a good job, and he wasn't ready to make a decision," Stafford said. Quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said he's proud of all of us for sticking in it. Nobody is wavering."

Even after Richt, Bobo and the quarterbacks watched tape of Saturday's scrimmage, there has been no change in the quarterback order. The practice routine Monday was identical to last week, with all four quarterbacks splitting time equally, Stafford said.

After watching the tape, Richt said his No. 1 critique of the quarterbacks is that some of them force the ball into bad situations. The depth chart won't change until at least after Friday's scrimmage, he said.

"The depth chart may not change at all," he said. "It doesn't have to change." Stafford said he missed one sight adjustment during the scrimmage but feels comfortable enough to lead the team if called on to start the Sept. 2 opener vs. Western Kentucky.

"I feel like I've learned enough and I feel confident enough in my ability to go out there and run the team," he said. "I think all four of us do, though."


The Bulldogs' overall injury situation began to mount Monday. Junior fullback Des Williams, a third-teamer behind Brannan Southerland and Jason Johnson, will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair cartilage damage and miss 10 days to two weeks.

Cornerback Asher Allen was in a green jersey due to a minor elbow injury. Defensive end Jeremy Lomax (groin) also was in a green jersey. Defensive linemen Ray Gant (shoulder) and Marquis Elmore (knee) and offensive linemen Zeb McKinzey (shoulder) and Ian Smith (shoulder) remained sidelined.


Richt watched former quarterback D.J. Shockley's pro debut intently, he said. Shockley played most of the fourth quarter of an exhibition game for the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night.

"I was living and dying with every play," Richt said. "I just wanted him to get them in field goal position so badly."

After Shockley led a drive to set up the game-winning field goal, Richt called Shockley's cell phone and left a message with his entire family cheering in the background, he said. ...

Georgia held its last two-a-day practice of the fall Monday. Due to three-year old NCAA rules, the Bulldogs had only three two-a-day sessions. É

True freshmen Kris Durham (receiver), Allen and Dewberry more than likely will play this year, Richt said. É

Cornerback Paul Oliver had another interception for a touchdown in Monday's workouts. "Paul is just terrorizing them," Richt said.

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