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What will Moreno do next?

POSTED: September 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATHENS — Wonder what Knowshon Moreno will do this week.

Leap over the hedges at Sanford Stadium? Soar through the uprights?

The Georgia running back has turned real life into something out of a video game, pulling off one spectacular move after another for the No. 3 Bulldogs. If he keeps this up, the highlight film at the end of the season will be nothing but No. 24.

Against Central Michigan, Moreno hurdled a defender to pick up a few extra yards. Last week at Arizona State, he soared through the air as though he wanted to fly at the end of a 9-yard touchdown run. Next up, he leads Georgia (4-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) against No. 8 Alabama (4-0, 1-0).

Coach Mark Richt knew Moreno was something special as soon as he watched him in high school.

"Most high school tapes are pretty bland," Richt said. "You're just watching the film. There's no commentator, no sound. But every once in a while, a personality jumps off the screen. He was of those guys you knew loved to play the game. He played with high energy. He had some flair to him. He wasn't a showboat. He just was what he is. He gets excited about playing the game."

The Bulldogs are equally excited to have Moreno on their side.

He's already rushed for 455 yards — averaging 6.6 yards a carry — and scored nine touchdowns. Project those numbers over the course of a full 12-game season and Moreno finishes with 1,365 yards and 27 TDs, likely good enough to get him in the mix for Heisman Trophy consideration.

But he knows the toughest part of the schedule is still left, beginning with an Alabama defense allowing just 55 yards per game on the ground.

"It's going to be a challenge," Moreno said. "They have some big linebackers and some big defensive linemen that can really move around and make plays."

He certainly has no idea what he might do this week.

How about a back flip into the end zone?

"I don't know, man," Moreno said. "Just let the game come to you, really. That's what you've got to do as a back. Just take what you can get."

Practice blackout

Georgia's uniforms weren't the only thing getting blacked out this week.

Coach Mark Richt also closed practice to the media, just as he did a year ago before the Bulldogs' game against Alabama.

A coincidence? Unlikely.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is a protege of New England's Bill Belichick, who was caught illegally taping opponents in the NFL. And Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels once worked for Saban at LSU.

"It worked last year," Richt said with a sly grin. "We just thought we'd try it again this year."

Even under normal circumstances, Georgia reveals very little during its practice sessions. The media is normally allowed on the field for only a short period near the start of workouts, when the main information that can be gleaned is who might be injured or what position someone is playing.

Asked about practice being closed, cornerback Asher Allen said, "That just means we've got some serious focusing going on. We ain't playin'."

Stafford still free of interceptions

Quarterback Matthew Stafford quickly searched for a wooden table to tap when someone mentioned he has yet to throw an interception this season.

Quite a change from his freshman year.

In 2006, Stafford got a rough introduction to the college game with 13 interceptions and only seven touchdown passes. But his numbers flipped as a sophomore (19 TDs, 10 INTs), and he's yet to be picked off this season.

Stafford has completed nearly 61 percent of his throws for 919 yards and five touchdowns.

"It's good not to turn the ball over," he said. "Obviously, I still have room for improvement. I'm missing some throws I wish I could have back. But overall, I feel like I'm playing pretty well."

Gully's chance

Andrew Gully couldn't believe it. He actually got on the field with the outcome of the game still in doubt.

Georgia's senior defensive end got the first significant playing time of his career in the 27-10 victory over Arizona State. He made two tackles and was credited with a half-sack.

"It's definitely awesome," he said. "Last week was the first week that I've ever been in the game when we were still in the mix of things. It was exciting to get to go in. That first play, I was pretty nervous. The stadium got silent and I was just watching the guy I was supposed to attack. Once the first ball was snapped, I just relaxed and played."

Gully decided to walk on at Georgia, even though he faced long odds of ever playing much. He appeared in three games the last two years, always with the outcome long since decided.

"I always liked the Dogs," he said. "I wanted to go to a big school. Then, one of my friends said, 'You should try to walk on.' The first year was rough learning all the techniques, but I've caught on and was able to help the team a little bit."

Dog Bytes

Fullback Brannan Southerland, coming back from a broken foot, will likely make his first appearance of the season against Tennessee on Oct. 11.




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