ATHENS - Todd Gurley's condition and the schedule over the next two weeks presents a dilemma for Georgia coaches.
Gurley, their star tailback, just returned to action last Saturday after missing three games with a badly sprained ankle. The ankle held up, but Gurley struggled with his conditioning, having to exit after the second series, not returning until the second half.
So this Saturday against lowly Appalachian State, do you concentrate on not aggravating the ankle, or on getting Gurley's conditioning up for next week's game at No. 7 Auburn?
The coaches aren't quite showing their hand, though offensive coordinator Mike Bobo indicated the emphasis will be on getting Gurley in playing shape.
"I think it was more a conditioning thing than the ankle (against Florida)," Bobo said. "I think the ankle had a little of the usual soreness you'd have after a game, after a sprain like he had. But his ankle is pretty much healed. He might have a nagging pain here or there. But it's something he has to work through to get in shape."
Bobo then said the approach would be the same as the Florida game, in terms of managing Gurley's workload.
"We've gotta make sure that we monitor his carries, and his touches, and make sure every time he's out there he can go full speed," Bobo said.
Gurley has practiced without any apparent limitations the past two days.
“If he’s healthy enough to play, he will, and we expect him to be healthy,” head coach Mark Richt said.
But Richt did say that Gurley's conditioning could be improved through practices, rather than in a game.
“It’s a game. Whoever our starters are, we’re going to play them,” Richt said. “I think you get your conditioning in practice, mostly. We’re going to play him according to what is best for the team at the time.”
Senior tight end Arthur Lynch missed a second consecutive practice with a rib cage injury sustained against Florida. Richt has called him questionable for Saturday's game.
If Lynch can't go, then sophomore Jay Rome will start, and the top backup will be senior walk-on Hugh Williams.
Bobo said freshman Jordan Davis will not play, as the team does not want to burn his redshirt.
As for Lynch, Bobo said the senior was still frustrated with himself after the game because of his drop, which allowed Florida back in the game. Lynch dropped a third-down pass, which turned out to be a backwards lateral, with Georgia leading 23-3 in the third quarter. As Lynch grabbed his face in frustration, not realizing the ball was still live, Florida scooped it up.
"I actually saw him on the way out, when we were walking underneath the stadium, and all he could talk about was that drop," Bobo said. "I said, Hey son, that's over. We won that game with that eight-minute drive at the end. That's what you oughta be proud of. He was kinda beating himself up about it. I said, It happens, move on."
But if Lynch had caught the ball, he had plenty of daylight. The play was one Georgia had worked on all week, Bobo said.
"I'd rather it be a learning lesson after a victory than instead of after a loss, so that's the only positive I can see out of it," Bobo said.