published Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

UGA defense now must deal with spread

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s defense under first-year coordinator Todd Grantham will be tested in yet another way Saturday when the Bulldogs visit Mississippi State.

After failing to stop the power running of South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore and the aerial prowess of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, the Bulldogs may see a little bit of everything in Starkville. That includes the spread option often used by MSU coach Dan Mullen.

“We have gotten something different every week,” inside linebacker Akeem Dent said. “We’ve got to take it upon ourselves to be in tune with the game plan and what Coach Grantham wants us to go out there and do.”

MSU does not have a quarterback ranked in the SEC’s top 10 in passing efficiency — Chris Relf and Tyler Russell combined for five interceptions last week at LSU — and hasn’t produced a 50-yard rusher in two weeks.

Loving the underdog

The Kansas City Royals have clinched their 15th losing record in the past 16 seasons, while the Detroit Lions have suffered nine straight losing seasons and are 0-2 this year. Yet there was Georgia senior flanker Kris Durham entering Tuesday’s news conference wearing a Lions T-shirt and a Royals hat.

“They’re the best teams in their respective areas,” he said, smiling.

Durham is a former roommate of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who suffered a shoulder injury in Detroit’s season opener against Chicago and may not be back until November. Durham’s brother-in-law, Blake Wood, has a 1-3 record and a 5.12 earned run average in 49 appearances as a right-handed relief pitcher for the Royals.

Injury update

Junior tailback Caleb King, who has missed the last two games after suffering an ankle injury during the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette, practiced Tuesday with his ankle taped and is expected to play in Starkville.

It is more uncertain for others hoping to return.

Inside linebacker Marcus Dowtin (shoulder stinger) and guard Chris Davis (knee and hip) are questionable, while fullback Shaun Chapas (ankle) and cornerback Branden Smith (concussion) are questionable to doubtful. Chapas, Davis and Smith did not practice Tuesday.

Odds and ends

Mississippi State first-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz got his start as a graduate assistant at Florida State in 1998-99, when Richt was FSU’s offensive coordinator. ... Junior Nick Williams moved from safety to linebacker after signing in 2008 and started once at strongside linebacker last season. He has played at safety under Grantham but is getting work at linebacker as well. ... Freshman tailback Ken Malcome is not practicing because of a concussion, and freshman outside linebacker Dexter Morant may be out through spring after undergoing shoulder surgery. ... Richt said there will be no limitations on his offense changing plays at the line of scrimmage because of the noise, something that was an issue at South Carolina.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

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 ...

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