Could Ray Drew's time have finally come?
With Abry Jones set to miss Saturday's game against Florida (CBS, 3:30) with an ankle injury, the Thomasville native may be about to get his big chance.
"Ray is going to get a bunch of snaps in this game, and I'm looking forward to seeing him play," head coach Mark Richt said after practice Wednesday afternoon.
Drew said he's ready for whatever opportunity comes his way.
"I don't think I could have asked for it to be anything bigger. It's the Georgia-Florida game. I've been preparing all season, grinding and getting my stuff down pat, doing what I'm supposed to do, waiting for an opportunity," Drew said. "When opportunity knocks it's about what you do with it. I'm going to do what I can and see where it goes from there."
Although just a sophomore, Bulldog fans have been anxious to see what the former five-star performer can actually do.
Slowed by a scooter accident his freshman season, Drew was moved to defensive end but has been slow to see the field.
In six games, the former Thomas County Central star has only made five tackles in his six games played.
"I wouldn't mind for it to be my coming out party, let's just say that," Drew said. "I'm going to do what I can; I'm going to do my part, make sure I carry out my responsibilities and help my team with us being down in numbers right now."
With Jones out, Garrison Smith is expected to take over at left end for the Bulldogs, with Drew to see playing time in some sort of rotation, along with John Jenkins, Kwame Geathers and Cornelius Washington.
"That's one thing I've been focusing on a lot this week, to get to the point where I can play as stout as he did because I don't want to actually get out here, get this opportunity and there be a missing part to the puzzle," Drew said. "I want to go out there and fill the void, and not miss a beat."
Drew said he has spoken to Jones on a couple of occasions since his injury.
"I've talked to Abry, I talked to him the day after it happened and asked what I needed to do. Did I need to spend extra time with him to go over the plays? Did I need to come over to his house?" Drew said. "Whatever I needed to do I would do because I did not want him to feel like he left a burden on the team, leaving it to me, Cornelius and whoever else it may be playing that position that day."
Theus looking forward to "homecoming"
For freshman right tackle John Theus, Saturday's game against arch-rival Florida at Jacksonville's Everbank Stadium is a homecoming of the truest sense.
"I'm a Jaguar fan - we're still going to win the Super Bowl this year," smiled Theus, who grew up in Jacksonville and lived 20-25 minutes from Everbank.
"I've been to that stadium many times," said Theus, whose former Bolles High team sits just 10 minutes away. "It' definitely excited to be going back home. It's going to be weird going over that bridge and seeing stadium. I'll look over my shoulder and there's Episcopal High School. I know the area. I will be a little tease from home, but it will be fun going back there."
Richt said he's expecting Theus to be more than a wide-eyed tour guide.
"The thing about John now is that he's played for seven games. That's a lot of plays and a lot of them in the SEC, so he's not quite just a pure rookie anymore. He's been trying to protect some pretty good football players, so he just has a better gauge of what it's all about," Richt said. "But he's still a rookie. One year from now, he'll be stronger and more experienced, and he'll have a little bit more confidence in knowing what's coming at him. So he'll certainly be a better player a year from now than he is today but he's a better player today than he was a month ago or six weeks ago."
Theus said he'll be ready.
"It's going to be cool to play in that stadium where I've watched so many games," Theus said. "But Florida's a great team. I've been watching film and they're a great defense. They're undefeated, like to get after it and they're a physical team. They'll come out firing. We'll have to give it all we have to have a shot at this."
Although published reports have stated that Abry Jones underwent surgery to repair his left ankle and will miss the rest of the regular season, Richt still wasn't confirming anything during his post-practice presser.
"If you want to know about Abry, Abry won't play this week, that's all I've been asked to say at this point," Richt said. "You might have information from other places, but for me, I've been asked to just let everybody know he's not playing this week."
One player who will be on the field is tight end Jay Rome.
Rome has missed parts of practice parts of the past three days, but Wednesday told reporters what the issue was.
"It was just some Achilles tendinitis, but I practiced a little bit yesterday. It's nothing major, I'll be able to play Saturday," Rome said. "It's no big deal."
Rome said he wore a walking boot earlier this week "as a small precaution."
While Rome was not on Wednesday's post-practice injury report, two new names showed up - backup linebacker Brandon Burrows and backup fullback [/db]Quayvon Hicks[/db], both who sat out with concussions.
This and that
Richt said he and his staff are paying close attention to the weather forecast as it pertains to Tropical Storm Sandy, which is expected to be churning somewhere off in the Atlantic on Saturday. "We're hearing 22 mph and 20 mph yesterday, but that does affect the game I think, more than just rain," Richt said. "I've been in some games where the wind has just totally changed the game. If it's a cross-wind, it's probably even more of an issue than if it is in your face or behind you. But it's sideways or swirling in all different directions it really wreaks havoc on any kind of long ball or any kind of field goals. It is problematic, so we'll see. Hopefully, it changes course."
The Bulldogs practiced for 90 minutes Wednesday, their second-to-last before this weekend's game. "There will be no more hitting this week until Saturday," Richt said. "I thought we got in what we needed to get in. I thought we had a couple of good days. Yesterday was especially good, today was not quite what it was yesterday but we still made improvements, so that was good."