ATHENS, Ga. — It has been a roller-coaster ride for tailback Caleb King the past few days, and that’s probably been the most painful part of his month-long hiatus from football.
On Saturday, he watched Georgia play Oklahoma State, sitting alone in his room. On Sunday, he returned to practice and for the first time in weeks, he felt pretty good. By Tuesday, however, his practice was cut short, and his prospects for playing against South Carolina took a hit.
“We saw him Sunday, and for what we asked him to do that day, he ran around well,” coach Mark Richt said. “Then we got into a full pads day and added more periods, the hamstring fatigued faster than it normally would, and we pulled him out. I would say it’s not a slam dunk at this point.”
King did some light work during individual workouts Wednesday and practiced during scout-team work, but he said he’s still not sure whether he has any chance of playing in Georgia’s home opener Saturday.
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“I honestly don’t know,” King said. “If they don’t think I’m 110 percent, I know they’re not going to play me at all. So if I don’t, I’m not going to play at all, and if I do, I’ll play a lot.”
King said his hamstring is feeling much better, but the muscle fatigues much faster than normal because of his extended absence. He said coaches could decide to rest him another week to allow him to build up the strength. That’s OK, King said, but he would just like to know one way or the other.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s more frustrating because I don’t know what they’re going to do with me,” he said.
Richt said it will likely be after today’s practice that coaches will make a final decision on King’s availability.
Changes in the trenches
Georgia’s offensive line will have a different look to it in the Bulldogs’ second outing of the season, and it won’t be just because starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant is out following an ACL injury.
Justin Anderson will get the starting nod at right guard this week over incumbent Chris Davis, whom Richt said lacks the size to create a favorable matchup against South Carolina’s hefty defensive front.
“The guys we’re playing are big men, and (Anderson) has just got more girth to him,” Richt said. “Chris, I’m sure, will end up playing, but you get two big guards in there when you play a team that’s mostly a four-man front, usually they cover your guards, and you want to get some big men in there to hold up against them.”
Senior Vince Vance will step in at left tackle for Sturdivant.
Vance filled in for about 25 snaps against the Cowboys, and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he turned in a strong performance.
“He did good,” Bobo said. “He played with energy and didn’t have hardly any missed assignments which is what we expect from Vince.”
Freshman on stand-by
With King potentially missing another week, Richt said he hasn’t ruled out using freshman tailback Washaun Ealey, both at running back and on special teams.
The problem, Richt said, is that because of an early elbow injury during practices, Ealey is behind in terms of how much progress the coaching staff had hoped to see.
“If you have some cumulative reps and you miss some time, that’s one thing,” Richt said. “But if you’re not there to learn it from scratch, it’s hard to throw them into the middle of a game plan and say, ‘Go do it,’ when he doesn’t even have the basics down.”
Catching passes again
Senior receiver Kris Durham, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery during the offseason, returned to receiving drills Wednesday.
Durham was kept out of any competitive situations, Richt said, but he got work in catching passes, which was an important benchmark.
“It’s encouraging and certainly he’s excited about it,” Ball said. “And it’s always good to have Kris around.”