Georgia vs. Missouri: Pregame notes

semerson@macon.comOctober 12, 2013 

SE

Munson tribute

The "something special" that Mark Richt said would occur at 11:30 a.m. in Sanford was indeed a video tribute to Larry Munson, with Loran Smith reading his recent column about how Munson would have appreciated the LSU game. The tribute included a brief shot of Richt crying in the locker room.

Richt tweeted it in an effort to get more fans int the stadium early, and so far the results are mixed. A little more than half of the stands are filled in as of 11:37 a.m. But there's still time to get it full for kickoff, which was Richt's main goal.

Kick return notes

Sheldon Dawson is fielding a lot of kicks (punts and kickoffs) in warmups. That's notable because Dawson has yet to return a punt of kickoff this year. Tony Ball, who coaches the kickoff return unit, was watching Dawson with a close eye.

Reggie Davis has returned four kickoffs this year, and he was also warming up with Ball. So were Kyle Karempelis and J.J. Green, who have returned one kickoff each this year. The team is without Justin Scott-Wesley, who had two kickoff returns this year.

Stat of the day (so far)

Georgia will be missing the following running backs and receivers today: Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett, Justin Scott-Wesley.

So today Georgia will be missing five players who, since the start of last season, have accounted for 2,840 rushing yards, 1,900 receiving yards and 45 touchdowns.

Georgia might be in a lot of trouble. The question is whether Missouri, unlike Tennessee last week, is able to exploit it. It's hard to know for sure because of Missouri's schedule.

I think we know about Georgia, even with the injuries. Today, we're going to find out about Missouri.

But as for Georgia, the biggest key is the defense. It can provide a huge emotional lift to the team and the crowd by playing better, and cancel out any drop in production from the depleted offense.

Matthews also out

Freshman free safety Tray Matthews is also not dressed out, so he will miss a second straight game because of a hamstring injury.

Connor Norman, who missed last week with a concussion, is in uniform, so Georgia at least has one more safety than it did last week.

Punter Collin Barber is also dressed out, and is warming up as if he'll play. Barber suffered a concussion at Tennessee last week.

Also not dressed out: Jonathan Rumph (hamstring) and Tramel Terry (recovering from knee injury.)

Gurley out

Todd Gurley is not dressed out to play, so it's officially the J.J. Green (and Brendan Douglas) show at tailback.

Mark Richt indicated all week that Gurley was doubtful to play, but didn't rule him out, wanting to give him a chance to be better by game time. But evidently the ankle sprain just isn't healed enough to even try it in warmups.

Freshman A.J. Turman is dressed out, though that doesn't mean he'll play. As of late in the week, the coaches were still in wait-and-see mode on whether to burn his redshirt.

9:15 a.m.: Pregame thoughts

It's too early in the morning to be in the press box for a game that could be this close.

When the noon start time for this game was announced 12 days ago, it was a bit curious, though not startling. Georgia figured to be a heavy favorite over a Missouri team that may have been unbeaten, but had yet to play anybody.

Then the Tigers got a convincing road win at Vanderbilt, and the Bulldogs lost three skill position stars at Tennessee, and have yet to get their biggest one (Todd Gurley) back. It's a good bet the suits at ESPN and the SEC have been spending all week saying:

"Whoops."

Of course, now that everyone's expecting another barnburner, maybe this will turn out to be a blowout. That could easily happen, if Georgia's young defense picks today to finally have its coming-out party. Doing so against James Franklin, however, is a big task.

Injury updates

There's nothing official as of 9:30 a.m., but all indications are that Georgia will be without Gurley (sprained ankle) and safety Tray Matthews (hamstring). It should get back safety Connor Norman, who missed the Tennessee game with a concussion. There were also indications late in the week that punter Collin Barber (concussion) was likely to go.

We'll pass along all updates as we get them, as always.

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