ATHENS — Georgia must find a new starting left tackle.
Vince Vance will need reconstructive knee surgery and miss the rest of the season, coach Mark Richt said Sunday.
The successor to Vance will be the team’s fourth first-string left tackle since the preseason.
Georgia lost left tackle Trinton Sturdivant to a season-ending knee injury before the first game. Kiante Tripp moved up as the starter in the first three games before moving to tight end. Vance, a sophomore, made his third start before hurting his right knee in the second quarter of No. 10 Georgia’s 26-14 win over Tennessee on Saturday.
Vance, a junior, was the only upperclassman among the five starting offensive linemen.
Georgia (5-1) could start three freshmen on the line next Saturday against Vanderbilt: center Ben Jones, guard Cordy Glenn and right tackle Justin Anderson. Another freshman, Aron White, made his first start at tight end against Tennessee.
"The good thing is they’re not true freshmen anymore," Richt said. "They are six games into the season, and the sophomores are getting some experience under their belt."
Sophomore Clint Boling replaced Vance against Tennessee. Sophomore Chris Davis started at left guard.
When asked if it is a nightmare scenario to lose another left tackle, Richt said his first concern was for the players.
"It’s a nightmare first of all because these young men work so hard to get in position to just play," Richt said. "There’s so much work that goes into it. ... Now all of a sudden it’s over, and it’s sad for those kids.
"After that you start thinking about how it affects your team and how much pressure it puts on everybody else. ... We’ve just got (fewer) guys who are ready to play for us right now."
Richt said Tripp will move back to tackle from tight end.
Vance will need surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament, according to Richt, who said Vance also had damage to his medial collateral ligament.
"It’s tough," said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. "We’ve lost two left tackles now. ... We’ll have to mix and match up there, but they’re responding and they’re really not young anymore."
The Bulldogs recovered from losing Vance to log one of their most impressive offensive games of the season in almost every category except scoring.
Georgia gained 458 yards on 81 plays, held Tennessee to 209 yards on 45 plays and had a 29-10 advantage in first downs.
The Bulldogs held the ball almost 11 minutes on 17 plays in their final scoring drive in the fourth quarter. The drive, which lasted 10 minutes, 55 seconds, is the longest by time in the Southeastern Conference since LSU had an 11:02 drive against Arizona State in the opener of the 2005 season, according to the SEC.
Richt graded the performance of the young offensive line against Tennessee as "definitely good."
He said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who set a career high with 310 yards passing, "just did a beautiful job of staying in there and looking downfield and making some throws."
"That part of his game was the best I had seen it," Richt said of Stafford. "I just thought overall it was his best decision-making game. I thought it was an outstanding game in his decisions and his ability to stand in there and let it rip."
Richt said senior tight end Tripp Chandler (shoulder) won’t play against Vanderbilt but could return for the Oct. 25 game at LSU.
Georgia retained its No. 10 ranking in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25.
Georgia’s home game against No. 22 Vanderbilt next Saturday has been set for a 12:30 p.m. start.