ORLANDO, Fla. - If there is one major regret that Georgia coach Mark Richt has it's the fact that injuries wound up playing such a huge role as it pertained to some of the defensive shortcomings that affected the 2008 campaign.
No, Richt isn't making excuses for the team's defensive issues that led to the Bulldogs' 9-3 mark.
Still, when you consider that Georgia was basically unable to practice full speed due to a lack of healthy bodies since the week of the LSU game, he realizes that fact probably had a greater impact on the team's fortunes than many originally thought.
It wasn't until the Bulldogs began preparations for Thursday's Capital One Bowl against Michigan State that the numbers available for practice actually started to improve.
"We did a little more back home, especially the early ones before we had any idea who we were going to play," Richt said. "The first two were like that then the second two we really didn't have enough time to get the game-plan together so those first four practices were more like spring football."
Richt said he was just happy to be able to practice like he's normally accustomed to doing.
"We didn't really get too many guys banged up with it, but that week (LSU week) I made the defense walk through instead of go, and that's the call I made," Richt said. "I do regret it now, it probably didn't help. But really, the toning down of practice probably started in two-a-days, it started in camp. When our second of the three scrimmages when I decided to go thud instead of live because of all the injuries, that's not how we practice. It wasn't good for us."
Young DBs impressing
Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said that three of his young freshman defensive backs -Bacarri Rambo, Makiri Pugh and Sanders Commings - continue to make big strides.
"Sanders has not been practicing much due to injuries but from a mental standpoint he's been paying attention in meetings and doing all the right things, while Rambo has played some quarterback for us (on the scout team) and has gained some valuable experience that has helped in his development."
The same holds true for Pugh, who was moved from cornerback to safety earlier this year.
"Makiri's been injured off and on but he's coming on strong," Martinez said. "All those guys have looked great during bowl practices and really have used them to their advantage."
White ready to go
Redshirt freshman linebacker Charles White said Tuesday that the Achilles injury that cost him 2008 is almost healed and he will be ready to go when the Bulldogs begin spring drills come March.
"I'm ready to go. I'm ready to get out on the field and show the coaches that I can produce," said White. "I can't wait."
According to the South Carolina native, he's continuing to build up the strength in his calf, but that's coming along just as expected.
"I'm really close to being all the way back," said White, who acknowledged that he now weighs 230 pounds. "The biggest thing with the calf is to get it developed so I'll put less pressure on that tendon. I feel good."
This and that
Richt said he has not been contacted by Auburn coach Gene Chizik seeking permission to speak with defensive line coach Rodney Garner about joining his staff.
The Bulldogs continued their Florida fun Tuesday afternoon by going to Sea Word.
Georgia will be the road team for Thursday's game.
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