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ATLANTA — Only one game into the season, Georgia coach Mark Richt faces the too-familiar task of replacing a starter on his offensive line.
Richt said Sunday left tackle Trinton Sturdivant suffered a season-ending knee injury in No. 13 Georgia’s 24-10 loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Richt said Sturdivant tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. It is the same knee Sturdivant injured in a preseason scrimmage last year, forcing him to miss the 2008 season.
Sturdivant started all 13 games as a freshman in 2007.
Richt said senior Vince Vance is the likely replacement for Sturdivant in next Saturday’s Southeastern Conference opener against South Carolina. Vance replaced Sturdivant last year before also suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Richt said Sturdivant’s injury is “psychologically tough” for the sophomore. Richt said a second
reconstructive surgery on the knee will not prevent the sophomore from making another comeback.
“Mentally would be the only thing that would keep him from coming back to a full recovery,” Richt said. “If he rehabs the same way he did a year ago he’ll be able to come back again.”
Richt said Studivant’s knee “kind of buckled” as he was blocking in the third quarter. The coach said Georgia’s medical personnel and Sturdivant at first did not believe the injury was serious.
“I saw him today,” Richt said. “He’s probably a little bit surprised by it. He really didn’t feel like that was the situation after the ballgame and we weren’t predicting that, so it was a little bit of a surprise to him and us.”
The loss of Sturdivant is a blow to an offense that struggled in its first game to replace two NFL first-round picks, quarterback Matthew Stafford and tailback Knowshon Moreno.
Stafford’s replacement is senior Joe Cox, who completed 15 of 30 passes for 162 yards with one interception and a touchdown in his first start since 2006.
Richt said Cox’s late fumble which led to Oklahoma State’s second touchdown was caused by a breakdown in pass protection.
Georgia opened the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive, capped by Cox’s 4-yard pass to Michael Moore.
The Bulldogs had just 177 yards and a field goal the rest of the game.
“In the passing game, I’ll say we just weren’t sharp,” Richt said. “We just weren’t consistent in our effort in the passing game.”
Sophomore Richard Samuel had 20 carries for 87 yards in his first start.
“I think we’re very close in the run game, especially,” Richt said. “We were close to breaking out some real long runs.”
Richt said he “would love it” if tailback Caleb King can return from a hamstring injury this week. King entered preseason practice as the No. 1 tailback.
Pugh has swine flu
Georgia defensive tackle Makiri Pugh has tested positive for swine flu.
Richt said after Saturday's 24-10 loss at Oklahoma State that Pugh, a redshirt freshman, did not travel with the Bulldogs after testing positive for the swine flu.
Cox, who missed Thursday's practice due to flu-like symptoms, tested negative for the virus, according to Richt.
Richt said he did not know how long Pugh, a backup, will be out.
On Sunday, Richt said he and his staff are "taking every precaution that we can" to guard against the virus spreading through the team.