October 8, 2013

Murray taking control

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With so many new faces at receiver expected to see increased roles following Saturday's carnage against Tennessee, quarterback Aaron Murray says he's doing everything he can to make sure those players are up to speed.

"We've already spent some extra time working on routes after practice," Murray said Tuesday. "We'll do that every day this week -work before practice, during practice and after practice to make sure our timing is on, so they'll know what I'm looking for, what they're looking for and things like that."

So who steps up?

According to head coach Mark Richt, Michael Erdman and Blake Tibbs are two to keep an eye on.

"Erdman is already learning and getting more reps. Michael has been in our program for a while now, and he has a pretty good working knowledge of what we do. He's been working mainly on the scout team, as has Blake Tibbs," Richt said. "Tibbs has also been in the program for a little while, and he has a working knowledge of our system. So it's not like we're going to teach them from scratch, but both of them have mostly spent time on the scout team."

UAB transfer Kenneth Towns is also expected to play, and is listed on Georgia's pre-game depth chart as the top backup behind Rhett McGowan at split end.

Don't look for junior college transfer Jonathon Rumph to be part of the plan. At least for right now.

"I don't see Rumph playing this week. I think Rumph is still a ways off on his hamstring, unfortunately. He's a guy that was here in the midyear and had a good spring and had a good camp, but he's just been hampered by that injury," Richt said. "Early on in camp, we're thinking that he's probably going to get himself in this rotation at receiver, and by now it'd be nice to have him more ready than he is, but he's just not ready. He's not getting reps, and he's not healthy right now."

Naturally, Murray said he's confident the young players will come through.

Even against Tennessee, Murray said Georgia's offense did not change and the Bulldogs were able to execute their plays like they normally would.

"We ran our offense the same. Naturally, we'd love to be at full strength but injuries happen," Murray said. "It's football, it's the next guy up and those young guys, especially the receivers, are going to have to work extra hard this week."

Gurley to test injured ankle

Running back Todd Gurley won't practice today, but Richt said that running back Todd Gurley is expected to test his sprained ankle during practice on Wednesday, although he remains doubtful or Saturday's game against No. 25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0).

"I don't really know for sure on (Todd) Gurley's situation. I would say that it's doubtful. I don't know if doubtful is the best word, but he's not going to practice today, I know that," Richt said. "(Wednesday), we'll see how he runs just straight ahead. Is he going to play this game? He could. We're not counting him out, but we have to prepare as if he won't play. For the most part, I think that covers our main issues."

Freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas will once against carry the running back load, with vets Brandon Harton and Kyle Karempelis on hand to chip in when necessary.

Richt does believe Gurley is making strides, however.

"He's getting better. He's getting better maybe a little bit more quickly than Ron (Courson) was thinking initially. It didn't really swell all that bad," Richt said. "It's one thing to be able to run straight, and it's one thing to be able to change directions, but it's another thing to be able to run the way he runs the ball when you start getting two and three guys trying to knock you back and you're driving through people. You start adding all the resistance of that weight, and that becomes a problem, so we just want to make sure he's really healthy before coming back."

Rome to see more time out wide?

Tight end Jay Rome has lined up as a receiver in the slot before.

But with all the injuries the Bulldogs are currently experiencing at the position, the former Valdosta High star hinted he may be getting a few extra opportunities.

"I feel like I can and I will be in the slot a lot more, and possibly with me and Artie (Arthur Lynch) at the same time for some stuff," Rome said. "So, I'm looking forward to stepping up with the absence of Justin (Scott-Wesley) and (Michael) Bennett."

At 6-foot-t and 254 pounds, Rome has the athleticism to become a matchup nightmare for linebackers and safeties attempting to cover him on a play.

"I like to be in space to try and show my athleticism," Rome said. "I think I'm a good route runner and can run the routes from the receiver position. With my size I think I can create a lot of mismatches."

Swann struggling

Richt conceded what most have observed watching the Bulldogs this fall - starting cornerback Damian Swann is scuffling.

"Damian, I'd say, is struggling right now. He's missed some tackles in the open field, and he's gotten beat on some coverages that have been tough on him," Richt said. "There have been some things that he has struggled with, but he's also made plays for us, as well. I think if you asked him, he'd tell you that he wants to perform better and he's working towards that."

Swann has no interceptions through five games (Georgia only has one as a team).
The Atlanta native is not thought to be in danger of losing his starting job.

This and that

Richt said that starting safety Tray Matthews is doubtful for Saturday's game. Matthews strained his hamstring last Tuesday and did not play in last week's game against Tennessee. … Bennett was scheduled to have his injured knee scoped Tuesday to determine the extent of the damage. … Punter Collin Barber (concussion) and safety Connor Norman (concussion) are both listed as questionable. … Dawg Walk is set for 10:10.

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