ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s offense looked bad enough as the Bulldogs lost 24-10 Saturday at Oklahoma State. One day later, the news got worse.
An MRI revealed that starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the second half of Saturday’s game, his first action in more than a year after tearing the same ligament during the preseason in 2008.
“Mentally would be the only thing that could keep him from making a full recovery,” coach Mark Richt said. “If he rehabs the same way he did a year ago, he’ll be able to play again next year.”
The mental hurdle will be a huge one for Sturdivant, who worked to rehab a more severe injury during the past year.
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Richt said he spoke with Sturdivant after the results of the MRI came back, and he said the lineman was stunned by the news but remained upbeat.
“He’s probably a little bit surprised by it because he really didn’t feel like that was the situation after the ballgame, and we weren’t predicting that,” Richt said. “He seemed kind of more philosophical. He’s just like, ‘Well, I’ve got two choices: I can either give up, or I can go fight again.’ He knows and we know that he’s going to fight and that he’ll be back.”
Georgia struggled to muster significant offense after an opening touchdown drive against the Cowboys.
The Bulldogs were held to just three points — courtesy of a career-long field goal by Blair Walsh three plays after Sturdivant left the game — after an impressive first drive.
Quarterback Joe Cox completed just 15-of-30 passes and turned over the ball twice, while the running game struggled outside of a few strong runs by sophomore Richard Samuel.
In all, Georgia generated just 257 yards of offense and turned over the ball three times, at least one of which — a fumble by Cox after being sacked — Richt attributed to the performance of the offensive line.
“It was hot and cold,” Richt said of the line’s performance. “It wasn’t flawless by any means. The sack that caused the fumble was a protection issue. Most of the time, we protected well, but that time in particular it wasn’t very good.”
In addition to the two sacks Oklahoma State had, Richt said the line failed to execute blocks long enough to open up sizeable holes for Samuel.
Richt said the lack of execution may have prevented Samuel from breaking a couple of long runs that may have made a difference in the complexion of the game.
“Their safeties tackled well, they closed space quickly, and there was a couple times when we just didn’t finish blocks,” Richt said. “Schematically, we were creating good space, but if we’d have stuck on our blocks a little bit better, we might have broken some big runs.”
With Sturdivant out for the remainder of the season, Richt said senior Vince Vance likely will step in as the starting left tackle. Vance held down the role for three games last season before an ACL injury of his own against Tennessee in October.
Although Vance performed acceptably after Sturdivant’s injury, Richt said the Bulldogs could consider several other players for the left tackle job.