The Georgia Bulldogs are regrouping defensively this week in preparation for one of the more intriguing offensive figures they will face this year.
Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed Sunday afternoon that senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the first quarter of Saturday’s 45-21 drubbing of Georgia Southern. The 6-foot-3, 298-pounder has surgery set for Sept. 9.
The absence of Owens coupled with left tackle Trinton Sturdivant’s season-ending knee injury during preseason camp leaves the No. 1 Bulldogs without their top player on each side of the line.
“At this rate, we won’t last very long,” Richt said. “We can’t afford much more. We’ve got pretty good depth still at both spots if you’re thinking about trying to finish out the season, but much more trouble there and we might get really thin.”
Owens, who briefly considered turning pro after last season, has yet to redshirt and can return to the Bulldogs in 2009. Richt has no doubts Owens will be back.
“He knows that it could be a blessing in the long run if he rehabs well and gets maybe in better condition than he was this year,” Richt said. “He’s looking at the bright side right now.”
Corvey Irvin will make his first career start Saturday against visiting Central Michigan. Richt said Irvin played the most snaps among the interior defensive linemen against the Eagles and was as productive as junior starter Geno Atkins.
The Bulldogs will be gearing for CMU junior quarterback Dan LeFevour, who has led the Chippewas to consecutive Mid-American Conference titles and Motor City Bowl trips. LeFevour was the MAC Freshman of the Year in 2006 and the MAC Offensive Player of the Year last season.
“If you watch the style of play of (Missouri quarterback) Chase Daniel, and people probably know who he is more than LeFevour, but they’re very similar in what they’re capable of doing,” Richt said.
The 6-3, 229-pound LeFevour completed 355 of 543 passes last season (65.4 percent) for 3,652 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also rushed 188 times for 1,122 yards (6.0 yards a carry), becoming the second player in major college history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season.
Former Texas quarterback Vince Young — now in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans — was the first in 2005.
Asked if LeFevour could be compared to Florida’s Tim Tebow, Richt said, “Philosophically, they are trying to do the same types of things with him as they’re doing with Tebow. Statistically, he’s a top-five Heisman preseason candidate to me.”
Central Michigan, which failed last year in tests against Kansas (52-7) and Clemson (70-14), opened with a 31-12 win over Eastern Illinois.
Georgia will get offensive lineman Clint Boling back from a one-game suspension. Boling likely will start at right tackle ahead of Justin Anderson but could also play right guard in relief of freshman Cordy Glenn.
Richt said Glenn did well in his debut but was mostly uncovered by GSU’s three-man defensive front.
Josh Davis, who started at right tackle against the Eagles, will move back to left tackle and compete with Kiante Tripp. Vince Vance is set at left guard, with Chris Davis and Ben Jones the top centers.
Odds and ends
The AP and USA Today polls will be released Tuesday because Tennessee plays at UCLA tonight. ... Matthew Stafford leads the SEC and ranks sixth nationally in pass efficiency (203.3). ... Backup tight end Bruce Figgins missed the opener for “in-house stuff,” Richt said, but now is in good standing. ... Richt expects fullback Brannan Southerland and safety Quintin Banks back by the Oct. 11 game against Tennessee. ... Richt attended the Alabama-Clemson game in support of his son Jon, a freshman quarterback for the Tigers. Asked about the Tide, he said, “They are very impressive, but that’s for another day.”
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 ...