STILLWATER, Okla. — Of all the disappointments in Georgia’s 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, none may loom larger than the injury suffered by left tackle Trinton Sturdivant.
On a run by tailback Carlton Thomas in the third quarter, Sturdivant landed awkwardly on his left knee and needed assistance leaving the field. Sturdivant was playing in his first game since the 2007 season after suffering multiple ligament tears in the same knee during fall camp last year.
Head coach Mark Richt said the team would have to wait for the results of an MRI before knowing the severity of the injury, but Sturdivant was wearing a cast down the length of his leg and was on crutches after the game.
“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions right this second,” Richt said. “He’s keeping his spirits up and is optimistic that it’s not a real severe thing. An MRI will basically tell the story, but he’s not in pain at all that I could see.”
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Georgia was in the midst of a promising drive prior to the injury, but quarterback Joe Cox was sacked on the next play after senior Vince Vance replaced Sturdivant, and the Bulldogs settled for a long field goal from Blair Walsh.
After the game, Richt said the injury didn’t stymie the drive and that Sturdivant’s loss wasn’t responsible for the second-half problems for the offense.
“When it happened, we just said, ‘Get in the game, Vince, and let’s go,’” Richt said. “We didn’t think that much about that part of it as much as we did when the game was over.”
Pugh has swine flu
While Cox tested negative for the H1N1 virus and was able to catch a late flight to Stillwater for the game, the prognosis wasn’t as good for redshirt freshman Makiri Pugh.
The reserve safety also came down with flu symptoms Wednesday, but Richt acknowledged that Pugh tested positive for the H1N1 virus and was not able to travel for the game.
Richt said he was not sure how long Pugh might be out while recovering.
“Even with guys that have had that H1N1, sometimes it’s a quick turnaround, sometimes it’s not,” he said.
The information was a slip of the tongue from Richt, who is typically barred from dispensing health information about players due to privacy regulations. Noting that, Richt refused to discuss whether any additional players had exhibited symptoms or had been tested for the illness.
Atkins joins the line
Georgia’s defensive line had a bit more heft in much of the first half of Saturday’s game as tackle Geno Atkins lined up at end, a plan defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said has been in place for a while.
“We don’t have enough depth and Geno is an outstanding player,” Martinez said. “We put our best players on the field any way we can.”
Martinez said Atkins will continue to play both end and tackle for the foreseeable future.
Receiving corps struggles
Georgia’s wide receivers struggled to get open against a stingy Oklahoma State secondary, with only sophomore A.J. Green providing any significant productivity.
Michael Moore and Tavarres King were the only receivers other than Green to catch a pass, combining for just 10 yards in the game.
“I think we have guys that can do it,” Cox said. “I just missed some people, they had some stuff covered well. That’s just how it was (Saturday).”
Freshmen receivers Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten didn’t see any action, and that’s a problem offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said will need to be resolved.
“You’ve just got to play those guys and let them learn through experience,” Bobo said. “I’m sure we’ll talk about that after the game and realize we’ve got to get those guys some more reps. They’re going to make mistakes, they’re young, but we’ve got to get them ready to play.”
Action surprised Smith
Freshman cornerback Branden Smith saw action in all three facets of the game Saturday, which he said surprised even him.
In addition to seeing work at cornerback in nickel packages, Smith returned two kicks and saw significant action on offense. Smith ran the ball three times for 11 yards and caught another pass for a 3-yard gain.
“I really didn’t know that much, but it was a good feeling that I got the touches,” Smith said. “I wish I would have gotten the ball more to help the team out.”
Smith said the performance was bittersweet at best in light of the loss, but he said he planned to take a positive outlook on the experience.
“I’ve been waiting for this day all my life,” Smith said, “and I think I played pretty good.”