ATHENS, Ga. — At least Georgia football fans don’t have to worry about any offensive linemen turning pro.
Vince Vance, the third of four starting left tackles in the revolving door up front, is the only junior on a line full of freshmen and sophomores. Vance was lost for the season against Tennessee (knee) and will be back next year along with sophomore Trinton Sturdivant, the first starting left tackle who was lost for the year (knee) in August.
Redshirt freshman Justin Anderson is a seven-game starter at right tackle who has missed the past two games, yet despite these setbacks, the five current starters are thriving. The Bulldogs amassed 488 yards in their Nov. 29 loss to Georgia Tech, leaving prospects for 2009 quite bright in the trenches.
“I feel like we’re in better shape than we’ve been in a while, and it’s going to be some great competition,” coach Mark Richt said. “The better competition we have, the harder they work in the offseason and the better they practice and the more focused they are. This group has played a lot of football together already.”
Georgia began preseason camp with a projected line of center Chris Davis, guards Vance and Clint Boling, and tackles Sturdivant and Kiante Tripp. Davis and Boling are the remaining starters heading into the Capital One Bowl, with Davis at right guard and Boling at left tackle.
“I’m going to be ready when we get a little bit more depth,” Boling said. “It makes things a lot easier in the game and at practice. I’ll be happy when everybody comes back.”
Junior quarterback Matthew Stafford and sophomore tailback Knowshon Moreno are among several Georgia players who have sent in paperwork to the NFL’s Draft Advisory Board. Stafford said determining whether or not to turn pro is much tougher than picking a college.
“In the NFL, you don’t get to choose where you’re going,” he said. “It’s just a whole different step. It’s the real world. It’s a business. In college, it’s a whole lot of fun, and there’s really not too many worries.”
Mullen follows Richt
New Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen will remain Florida’s offensive coordinator for the BCS title game against Oklahoma. Richt was announced as Georgia’s coach on Dec. 26, 2000, but remained as Florida State’s offensive coordinator in the 2001 Orange Bowl against Oklahoma.
“You don’t want to leave with unfinished business, and you wish that the hiring process didn’t happen in the heart of a run for a national championship,” Richt said. “I tried my best to focus on Florida State in the morning, and once our practices and meetings were over and I had free time, I was trying my best to help Georgia in recruiting and the things I had to do as a head coach.
“It was very, very difficult to do, and I wish him the best.”
Richt’s offense never scored in a 13-2 loss to the Sooners.
Odds and ends
Georgia will be the visiting team in Orlando and will wear white. ... Richt said he has not been contacted by Auburn concerning assistant coaches Stacy Searels and Rodney Garner, each of whom played for the Tigers. ... The Bulldogs have sold roughly 11,500 tickets out of their 12,000 bowl allotment. ... Richt did not know of any players who might miss the bowl because of academics. ... Stafford on going to Disney World: “I’m going to ride some rides and hopefully get Mickey Mouse’s autograph.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...