ATHENS - There is plenty of concern among Georgia fans that their football team is too low on scholarship players this year. All the offseason attrition has left the team well below the NCAA limit of 85.
But head coach Mark Richt thinks the worries are overblown. He pointed out on Friday that the travel roster limit is 70, which is about the number that Georgia has right now anyway.
"I think just watching our special teams work, the amount of depth we have right at this moment, I think we're fine," Richt said. "Because again, the bottom line is you can only bring 70 guys on the trip. And the reality is most every year, two, three or four of those cats are walk-ons anyway. So you might have 65 scholarship guys traveling that are ready to play football in an SEC game."
Georgia currently has 72 players on scholarship, and 69 who were recruited as scholarship players. (Blake Sailors, Brandon Harton and Rueben Faloughi are former walk-ons.)
Several other walk-ons are due to play and possibly start: Fullback Merritt Hall and safety Connor Norman. The receiving corps has a number of players who made trips last year: Rhett McGowan, Michael Erdman and Taylor Bradberry.
The key is avoiding injuries, as Richt went on to say. They suffered their first extended injury on Friday:
Reserve guard/center Hunter Long will miss six-to-eight weeks after breaking his left foot. Long had been working as the backup center, so now starting guard Chris Burnette will move to center if anything happens to starter David Andrews.
"If you've got a lot of injuries you've got issues, of course, but we've been pretty fortunate in that area going into this camp," Richt said. "We've had a few things. I don't think we've had anything that might end anybody's season. We've had some things that might keep a guy out awhile. You know, concussions, pulled muscles, things like that. But it's been pretty good."
Richt said the coaches met on Thursday to go over the roster: They did a preliminary list of which players would make a trip now, just to make sure they were practicing the right players, rather than working in players that should actually redshirt. Who to play on special teams is a big part of that. Richt said the big board backed up that the numbers weren't an issue.
"The bottom line was when we put the names on the board we knew we were in good shapes," Richt said. "We knew we were practicing the right guys, and we were fine."