With the turf toe injury to starting tight end
Martrez Milner, sophomore
Tripp Chandler has big shoes to fill Saturday
starting against Mississippi State. UGASports caught up with Chandler to talk
about his role on the team and the increased playing time he has seen in the
last two games.
UGASports: What do you hope to accomplish
Chandler: "I want to help my team
win and it is not about me catching the ball or me scoring touchdowns it is
about me doing my job and doing anything I can to win."
UGASports: When you played tight end
growing up you had the ball thrown to you a lot more what kind of adjustment
is there to only getting one or no looks in a game?
Chandler: "I started playing tight
end in eighth grade and it was a little more glorious then because you blocked
rarely and were just running around for the majority of the time. When the time
comes to block I will block and when the time comes to run a route I will run
my route and when the ball comes I will catch it."
UGASports: Were you a big fan of your
predecessors at tight end in the Georgia uniform?
Chandler: "I grew up a huge fan
and I was even watching Leonard Pope in high school. I came here and he took
me under his wing when I got here as a freshman and it was a fun time for me
and a fun experience for me to be under his wing. Ben Watson was here for my
freshman and sophomore year (in high school) and I had his posters hanging up
in my room and I was a big Georgia fan. He came up to me last year and introduced
himself to me and that was a really cool experience to meet him. He was a real
cool guy and he was not cocky or anything he was just Ben Watson, that was a
really neat experience."
UGASports: How did you end up where number
86 for Georgia?
Chandler: "I actually wanted 82
because that is what I wore in high school, but once I got here and saw I was
getting (Randy) McMichael's number I knew I had big shoes and a big number
UGASports: Do you consider yourself more
of a receiving tight end or an all-around player?
Chandler: "I see myself as a balanced
tight end, I do not have the greatest speed, but I am a consistent player, I
run sharp routes and they are not the fastest routes, but they are sharp, and
I do not usually drop a ball. I would say I am balanced."
UGASports: Is this opportunity to start
an audition for next season and a chance to maybe lock up the starting spot
Chandler: "This is a big opportunity
for me and I see this as a big audition I guess, but I think everyday is. I
have to come out and show them what I have. Everyday I am proving I am a Georgia
caliber tight end, so it is not just this Saturday I am going to prove it, it
is a day-to-day thing."
UGASports: Is it disappointing how little
Georgia has used the two tight end formation this season given how much they
used that in the past?
Chandler: "For the first four or
five games we were not doing two tight, but against Ole Miss we started going
two tight a little more and I proved myself a little more making some pretty
good blocks. Last week and against Tennessee we went two tight a majority of
the time. Against Tennessee, we went 25 plays two tight. Disappointment is there
because I came here to play football besides going to school, not sitting on
the sides being a spectator, but the last couple of weeks have been a lot of
fun. I think against Tennessee I got to feel what it is like to be a Bulldog
out there on the field."
UGASports: How comfortable are you blocking
every down against Mississippi State this week?
Chandler: "These defensive ends
will be some of the best we will face all year and probably for the rest of
the season, so I feel comfortable in the fact I face Quentin (Moses) and Charles
(Johnson) who are pretty good defensive ends. I go up against them day-to-day
so I do not imagine them being a great deal better than those two because they
are All-American candidates. I feel comfortable, ready, and confident."
UGASports: How long do you think Martrez
will be out of action and you will need to start?
Chandler: "I think it will be just
this weekend and hopefully I can prove I need more playing time, but Trez is
an All-SEC caliber tight end so when he comes back it will probably be his spot."
UGASports: How difficult is it for the
offense to adjust to so many personnel changes with all the injuries and the
changes at quarterback?
Chandler: "It will be hard on us
as a unit with the quarterback change, but we are going to play hard for whoever
is in there. We are not going to drop a ball from Stafford because we want Joe
in there; we are going to play hard for whoever is in there. Those are our brothers
in there and we love those guys. With Trez going down that is obviously going
to hurt our team because of the type of athlete he is and the same with Thomas
(Brown). Those are huge weapons with not only Trez's blocking and route
running, but with Thomas' route running, blocking, and his ability to
run the football. It is obviously going to hurt our football team. We have depth.
A head got chopped off the three-headed monster with our running backs, but
we have (Kregg) Lumpkin and Danny Ware standing behind them ready to go and
me and Coleman (Watson)."
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