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Richt looks to fill hole at left tackle

POSTED: August 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.

ATHENS Trinton Sturdivant’s devastating knee injury hung heavily over Georgia coach Mark Richt on Tuesday.

"I’m still not over it yet," Richt said of his starting left tackle. "Maybe if you ask me in a week, I could tell you everything is going to be OK, but right now I’m still kind of sick about the whole thing."

The Bulldogs, seeking the national title after ending last season ranked No. 2 by The Associated Press, were counting on Sturdivant to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford’s blind side and clear room for running back Knowshon Moreno.

Sturdivant suffered multiple ligament injuries to his left knee in a scrimmage on Monday. Ron Courson, Georgia’s director of sports medicine, said the 6-foot-5 Sturdivant might need a full year of rehab after he undergoes reconstructive surgery next week.

With the Bulldogs opening the season Aug. 30 against Georgia Southern, the coaching staff worked Josh Davis as the starting left tackle on Tuesday, but Richt indicated that left guard Vince Vance took some snaps on the outside, too.

Georgia also might consider moving Kiante Tripp, who starts at right tackle, to the left side.

Right guard Cordy Glenn is another candidate.

"He’s talented enough to play right tackle," Richt said of Glenn. "Probably left also, but hes used to the right side. If we moved Cordy to a right tackle, we could move Kiante Tripp over to left tackle. I would say that would exhaust the possibilities."

Richt has been impressed with the athleticism of Glenn, a freshman from the Atlanta suburb of Riverdale.

"I think just watching Cordy, it didn’t take long at all to say (he) can do it physically this year," Richt said. "The question is how quickly can he learn. He’s been running with the No. 1 unit for a few days now (at guard)."

The loss of Sturdivant will be hard to overcome.

"To know the backside of your QB is protected and to know that he understands what to do (is critical)," Richt said. "He’s just bigger, stronger and more experienced than he was a year ago and he did a pretty good job a year ago. It’s sad for him of course because he worked so hard. He got up to the 310-pound range and was as strong as hes ever been, was practicing so well. It’s hard to lose experience."

Georgia is ranked No. 1 in preseason by USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. The AP poll will be released on Saturday.

The Bulldogs are coming off an 11-2 season that ended with a 41-10 victory over Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.

Moreno was the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2007, rushing for 1,334 yards and 14 touchdowns. Only Herschel Walker from 1980-82 and Garrison Hearst in 1992 have had more productive seasons on the ground for Georgia.

Stafford improved to 17-4 as a starter after the Bulldogs won their final seven games and 10 of their last 11. Georgia gave up only 15 sacks in ‘07 and a total of four over the final five games.

Fullback Brannan Southerland, who scored 21 touchdowns over his first three seasons, is recovering from an ankle injury that could sideline him against Georgia Southern and Central Michigan on Sept. 6.



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