ATHENS — Despite missing all of Georgia’s preseason practices, senior inside linebacker Akeem Dent may still start in the season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Dent injured his left big toe in summer workouts and had surgery July 27.
“I think you got to wait and see what happens,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “Dent is doing a good job, and if he’s healthy we want to have him out there.”
While Dent has not taken part in contact drills or any of the Bulldogs’ live scrimmages, the Atlanta native has been in every meeting and keeping a keen eye on his peers in practice, according to linebackers coach Warren Belin.
“Akeem has really been sharp during his injury of staying focused in the meetings and knowing what to do,” Belin said. “Even though he’s not taking physical reps, he’s back there checking himself as one of the linebackers that’s on the field.”
Redshirt sophomore Christian Robinson and junior Marcus Dowtin have taken the majority of reps at the two starting inside linebacker positions.
“Christian Robinson has really been the quarterback since Dent has not been out there,” Grantham said. “He’s done a good job as far as getting guys lined up and making the call. He’s played his position well. I think Dowtin has continued to progress. He shows flashes of being a really good player. I think with those guys right there we’re still going to mix and match and keep those guys fresh.”
If Dent does play, how the three would be used is still unknown, as Belin jokingly added, “Am I supposed to give away my game plan?”
But each will see considerable playing time.
Junior Caleb King has a slight edge on sophomore Washuan Ealey as the starting tailback, according to running backs coach Bryan McClendon.
Although who starts won’t change the fact both will split the majority of carries for the Bulldogs this season, McClendon attributes King’s understanding of pass protection as the reason for the leg-up.
“He’s been more consistent in his pass blocking throughout camp right now,” McClendon said. “I think he’s worked hard at that. Both of those guys have improved a bunch at that, but right now I would say it’s going to be (King).”
King was the starter in Georgia’s final five games last season, but Ealey led the team in rushing yards in each of those contests.
Expect the same balanced rushing rotation this year, McClendon said.
“The plan is pretty much how it’s always been,” he said. “You want to keep both of those guys fresh. I think you want to put both of those guys give us a chance to go out there and be very competitive. And not only be competitive, but to win every game.”
McClendon actively talks with King and Ealey about handling the rotation in a way that keeps each player happy and comfortable.
“One thing I would hate to do is have one of those guys in there and they finally feel like they are getting in a rhythm and then they get taken out,” McClendon said. “So we sort of tinker with it back-and-forth. With both of those guys, we have a good idea of what they like, as far as when one guy goes in and another guy comes out. It is sort of planned out.”
Mason No. 2
True freshman quarterback Hutson Mason is now considered Aaron Murray’s backup, according to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
Logan Gray, who moved from quarterback to wide receiver following spring drills, has missed the past 11 days of practice with an ankle injury.
Gray was still considered to be the chief backup, but with the time away nursing the injury, Mason has risen up the depth chart.
“He’s pretty much No. 2 right now,” Bobo said. “A lot has to do with Logan Gray’s injury. ... That’s a call (whether to play or redshirt Mason) from a head coach, not me.”
Buffalo in 2012
The University of Buffalo announced Thursday that it’s football team will open the 2012 season at Georgia on September 1.
The Mid-American conference foe went 5-7 last season under coach Turner Gill, who left for Kansas. Jeff Quinn replaced Gill.
Georgia, who has opened at home in all but two seasons since 1995, will host Louisville in 2011.