ATHENS, Ga. — It may only be Western Carolina this week, but Vince Vance believes performing well in Saturday's game will be crucial for him.
The sophomore offensive tackle played sparingly in Georgia's first two games, but he stands to see more playing time on Saturday. If he acquits himself well, even against the Division I-AA Catamounts, he may see the field more frequently in the near future.
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"We feel like Vince is getting closer to earning more playing time regardless," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Vince did a nice job (against South Carolina)."
The 6-foot-8 junior college transfer was injured in his first spring in Athens and lost the race for the starting left tackle spot to Trinton Sturdivant. The true freshman has done a passable job thus far, Richt said, but has also had a handful of missed assignments.
Meanwhile, Vance fared well in the series he played last week, grading out at 80 percent.
He understands that not practicing hard enough has cost him playing time, but is attempting to change that this week.
"Really, it's all up to me — how I practice," said Vance, who is working solely at left tackle in practice. "Every coach says how you practice is how you play and when the coaches put me in, I just want to be ready."
Vance's situation is similar to that of several Bulldogs angling for increased playing time as the year wears on. Richt identified Georgia's young tight ends and safety Quintin Banks in that group, as well as a pair of Vance's offensive line mates — Clint Boling and possibly Kiante Tripp.
A versatile true freshman, Boling is actually Georgia's top backup at both right guard and right tackle. He has appeared in both of the Bulldogs' first two games and should see considerable playing time against Western Carolina.
"I think he deserves probably a little bit more of a rotation," Richt said. "Regardless of who you're gonna play next, I think those guys have earned that. Anybody else across that front line right now is still kind of up in the air."
But when asked about Tripp, Richt included him as someone he'd like to see more of this week. The 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman has been an offensive tackle for only about a month after spending his first year in Athens at defensive end.
He played the position in high school and his coaches complimented him early on for the way he picked it back up when he made the switch in mid-August. His build is still closer to that of a defensive end, somewhat less than his coaches would like for him to play offensive line, but Richt said he still may get his chance.
"You've got a guy that weighed in the 265 range or so and all of a sudden he's a bit small for the position we're asking him to play," Richt said. "But it would be great to get him an opportunity."
Playing well against a clearly inferior opponent can only prove so much for one of the developing players. But game reps are harder to come by for unproven players in big games.
If one of the candidates for increased playing time performs well on Saturday, perhaps his name will be closer to the front of his coach's mind when a more dangerous opponent is on the opposite sideline.