þÿFreshmen Expect Action Against Gamecocks
ATHENS - Waiting on the sidelines throughout Georgia's opener against Oklahoma State, freshman receiver Marlon Brown was as surprised as anyone that his number was never called by coaches to spring onto the field and line up with the offense.
As it turned out, he said the oversight caught his position coach, Tony Ball, by surprise, too.
"He said the game was moving so fast and he was trying to find out what plays worked and what didn't work, and he said he just forgot, it slipped his mind," Brown said.
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Neither Brown nor fellow freshman receiver Rantavious Wooten saw action in the 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, and only three wideouts caught passes in the game.
Head coach Mark Richt said the close score throughout much of the game created some reservations about putting the inexperienced freshmen on the field at crucial moments, but admitted there was little choice but to make sure Wooten and Brown saw action this week against South Carolina.
"We cannot go the season with just four receivers, there's no way," Richt said. "We've got to play them, and I told those guys when you practice, you need to be sharp. The sharper you are in practice, that breeds confidence in your coaches to get your opportunities."
Without Brown and Wooten, Georgia's top three receivers - A.J. Green, Tavarres King and Michael Moore - all saw a significant workload, with Moore saying he played on about 55 of Georgia's 60 offensive snaps.
The lack of diversity caught Green by surprise as well, particularly since he said the freshmen appeared ready for playing time. Regardless, Green said both Wooten and Brown should get an opportunity to make plays as soon as possible.
"It's very important to get a lot of young guys to get them acclimated to the game and get them some touches to get them comfortable with the offense and show them that they can make plays, too," Green said.
NO FLU FOR PUGH
It was Wednesday night last week when defensive back Makiri Pugh started feeling ill. By Thursday, he was sick enough to seek medical attention, and that afternoon he tested positive for the swine flu.
The test results weren't the bad news, however. It was the realization that, after redshirting last season, Pugh would have to wait another week before playing in his first game that really hurt.
"I was just more devastated that I couldn't play," Pugh said. "I was just disappointed I didn't get to travel with the team and didn't get to play. It would have been my first game."
Pugh said his symptoms came and went, but said he think the illness was as bad as the more typical incarnations of the flu.
Still, he had to be quarantined to prevent other players from contracting the illness, which meant no trip to Oklahoma and a lonely Saturday afternoon watching the game by himself.
"I was well taken care of," Pugh said. "It wasn't a big deal, but it wasn't the most fun time."
Pugh returned to full practice for the first time since testing positive Tuesday, and he said he expects to play against South Carolina.
So far, Richt said no other players have exhibited symptoms of the illness, which is a good sign.
"If a guy is going to get infected with it from a teammate, it usually manifests itself pretty quickly," Richt said. "So we feel that we are out of that situation."
THE WAITING GAME
Caleb King's return to practice has been anticipated for nearly a month, but Tuesday head coach Mark Richt said he thinks the sophomore tailback will be ready to play against South Carolina after being limited since Aug. 12 with a sore hamstring.
"We do plan on him playing in the game," Richt said. "We do plan on playing him, but how much depends on this week's practice and what he does when he gets his opportunities."
By the time the players came off the practice field, however, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he was less confident that King would be ready to go.
"He did not do much. He was wearing a green jersey. We're hopeful that he'll play, but he's still not practicing that much."
In King's absence, Richard Samuel ran 20 times for 87 yards, but Georgia's running game sputtered for long periods during the game, particularly when Samuel was off the field. That means a return by King could be a big lift for the offense, Samuel said.
"I feel like having him back brings a different aspect to the running game," he said, "providing something else the defense has to look forward to. It'll be good to have him back."
HONORING THE HEROES
Georgia will wear a helmet sticker during Saturday's game to honor the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Macon.
The 48th is currently deployed in Afghanistan and includes about 3,000 Georgians, and have lost seven soldiers in the line of duty.
"This is a sign of our appreciation for all the men and women who are serving and for their families as well," Richt said. "We owe them all the support we can give."