ATHENS - Stepping outside SEC play, Georgia figures to able to dip deep into its pool of reserves Saturday against a Western Carolina team on an 11-game losing streak.
Backup offensive left tackle Vince Vance is pushing for more snaps no matter the opponent, coach Mark Richt said.
"We feel like Vince is getting closer to earning more playing time regardless," Richt said.
"Vince has got to practice a little better quite frankly. The plays he did play in the game, he did a pretty nice job."
Vance, a sophomore transfer from Georgia Military College, replaced Trinton Sturdivant for one third quarter series in Saturday's loss to South Carolina and said he graded out at 80 percent, a favorable mark.
"Really, it's all up to me," Vance said. "Every coach says how you practice is how you play. When the coaches put me in, I just want to be ready."
Freshman Clint Boling has also earned more playing time as the top reserve at offensive right guard and right tackle.
Richt would like to get Kiante Tripp work at offensive tackle and freshmen Bruce Figgins and NaDerris Ward more snaps at tight end.
Freshman tailback Caleb King, a GAC grad, continues to get increased practice work.
"Injuries have kind of pushed him a little bit closer to the front of the line," Richt said.
Tailback Kregg Lumpkin is out with a broken thumb and Jason Johnson is sidelined with a hand injury.
Running backs coach Tony Ball said King is not ready to get a significant number of plays.
"We're trying to bring him along and hope that nothing else happens," Ball said.
King isn't in a hurry.
"I've always got next year," he said. "I don't care about waiting."
Wilson won't be afraid to go over middle
Redshirt freshman receiver Tony Wilson watched the replay of his fourth quarter drop near the goal-line on Saturday only once. That's all it took for him to learn a valuable lesson.
"I learned from my mistake to go up and snag it," Wilson said. "I was double catching it because I was in the air, bringing it down again and re-catching it (trying to secure the ball). It's a stepping stone for me to move on and don't dwell on it."
Receivers coach John Eason told Wilson that the play could have been remembered as one of the great catches talked about for years. Instead a South Carolina player jarred the ball away.
"The next time I get an opportunity to go up and make a catch like that I'm going to do it," Wilson said. "That ain't going to make me afraid to go across the middle because I don't have a fear to go across the middle."
Knee surgery knocks Bryant out a month
Senior receiver A.J. Bryant underwent surgery on his left knee on Tuesday and he could be out for at least four weeks. Bryant injured his meniscus and sustained a bone bruise on a play Saturday designed for Bryant to throw a double pass.
Richt said a medical redshirt for Bryant, on track to graduate this spring, isn't likely.
"Whether or not he's going to come back for another year is on him," Richt said.
Missed tackles and missing on touchdown run
By Georgia's count, the Bulldogs missed about 10 tackles Saturday, defensive end Marcus Howard said.
Safety Reshad Jones didn't miss a tackle on Cory Boyd's 9-yard touchdown run because he never got close enough to make the tackle.
Jones thought a lineman had jumped offsides and stopped and watched the play thinking he heard a whistle.
"Like Coach (Willie) Martinez likes to say 'That was a bad image watching it on film,'" Richt said.
Searels aces name game
Offensive line coach Stacy Searels is seven years removed from coaching at Appalachian State but still is on top of his former conference. Richt this week quizzed Searels on the Southern Conference mascots.
"He got them all right," Richt said. "He got the Moccasins, Mountaineers, Bulldogs and whatever else. He nailed them. He
didn't even hesitate."
Richt stands by Bobo
Richt still makes the call on whether to go for a fourth down or try for a field goal, but that doesn't mean that he agreed with Mike Bobo's call when quarterback Matthew Stafford's hidden ball trick play that resulted in a sack on fourth-and-two in the third quarter.
Asked if he felt comfortable with that call, Richt smiled and said "I'm standing by my man."
This and that
Safety Kelin Johnson (ribs) returned to practice on Tuesday and is expected to play Saturday. Wilson (ribs) practiced in a non-contact jersey. ...Defensive end Jeremy Lomax (sinus infection) missed Tuesday's practice. ...Defensive tackle Kade Weston was named the defense's 'Top Dawg' for being its most productive player Saturday. "Even when he didn't make that play, he was pushing that guard right in the backfield a bunch," Richt said. Weston (shoulder) wore a non-contact jersey Tuesday. ...Western Carolina uses two quarterbacks Todd Spitzer and Adam Hearns. Richt said Hearns has played well lately and wouldn't be surprised to see him start, but coach Kent Briggs is sticking with Spitzer. "He's been under a lot of pressure as the starter and is still our starter," Briggs said.