Originally created 09/06/00

Georgia and South Carolina notebook



ATHENS, Ga. -- First it was telephone fraud, which caused five players to be suspended for the first game and two for the second.

Then it was the five-game suspension of senior receiver Michael Greer, who broke an undisclosed team rule and won't return until Oct. 14.

But the latest setback for Georgia's football team likely was its biggest. Junior linebacker Boss Bailey -- whom coach Jim Donnan called "the Quincy Carter on defense" -- suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of last week's season-opening win over Georgia Southern.

It all makes Donnan, whose team plays at South Carolina on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPN), wonder what misfortune might befall his team next.

"We've got to really pull it up to be the team everybody thinks we're going to be," the Bulldogs' fifth-year coach said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

Donnan didn't shroud or underestimate the impact of Bailey's loss. The strong-side linebacker, who suffered a torn anterior-cruciate ligament in kickoff coverage early during the 29-7 win, was one of the defense's brightest stars.

"That's a real big blow to our defense," defensive tackle Richard Seymour said of Bailey, a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and had a 41-inch vertical leap.

"He was one of the leaders on the defense, but we had to rally around, and some other guys stepped up in his place, and we were able to get the job done against Georgia Southern. But it is a tremendous blow to our team."

The suspensions have chipped away at the defense's continuity, as three starters (Seymour, end Charles Grant and middle linebacker Kendrell Bell) sat out Saturday's game. Sophomore linebacker Tony Gilbert, who filled Bell's spot against Georgia Southern, will serve his suspension against South Carolina.

Also, Donnan said junior middle linebacker Adrian Hollingshed is "questionable to doubtful" because of a shoulder injury. That renders thin a unit many expected to be the strength of the team.

"Everybody talks about our depth at linebacker, but we really don't have much now," Donnan said.

Still, Georgia doesn't exactly look like a team in shambles. The defense played well against the Eagles despite the loss of its four starters, holding a potent offense scoreless until 1:16 was left in the game.

And in case you forgot, the Bulldogs are ranked No. 9 nationally, their highest ranking since they were No. 7 after beating Louisiana State in the fourth game of 1998.

Plus, offensive tackle Jonas Jennings said, there are plenty of capable backups.

"That's the point of having depth," he said. "We're deep, and part of us being deep is having somebody step in and us not miss a beat."

Said sophomore tight end Randy McMichael: "A lot of teams are counting us out because we lost so many players. But we know we've got plenty of troops in the barn. We can always restock."

Freshman linebacker Chris Clemons, the first true freshman to start at linebacker since Randall Godfrey in 1992, played more than adequately in Bailey's stead Saturday by collecting seven tackles and one quarterback pressure.

Since the Gamecocks are expected to make extensive use of four-receiver sets, the Bulldogs often will employ five defensive backs. In those cases, Georgia would play with two linebackers instead of its typical three, creating less pressure for Clemons.

Though admittedly disappointed, Donnan said he is ready to move on.

"You think about the what-ifs for the rest of the season," he said. "That's part of coaching. You've got to work through it and try to find a way to meet the standards and expectations that we have."

South Carolina

A look at the Gamecocks three days before they play host to Georgia (3:30 p.m., ESPN2):

Latest news: South Carolina broke its 21-game losing streak last week, but there's another dubious skid -- 18 straight losses in Southeastern Conference games -- that needs tending to.

Injuries: Strong safety Antione Nesmith, who missed Saturday's game after suffering back spasms in pregame warmups, was expected to return to practice Tuesday. Defensive tackle Anthony Overstreet (testicular surgery) missed the opener but is expected to play Saturday.

Key stat: In the Gamecocks' 31-0 victory over New Mexico State, strong safety Rashad Faison had 11 tackles, including two sacks on safety blitzes.

Analysis: Last season, South Carolina had trouble guarding Georgia's receivers despite several dropped passes in the Bulldogs' 24-9 victory. This year, Georgia has added talented receivers such as Reggie Brown, Durell Robinson and Damien Gary, so the Gamecocks must guard against giving up big plays.

Quote: "Their offensive line, I think, is as good as there is in the country, bar none. They were awfully good last year, and they'll be better this year." -- Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz, on the Bulldogs' offensive line

Georgia

A look at the Bulldogs three days before they play at South Carolina (3:30 p.m., ESPN2):

Latest news: Georgia coach Jim Donnan said junior middle linebacker Adrian Hollingshed, who suffered a shoulder injury in last week's 29-7 victory over Georgia Southern, is "questionable to doubtful" for Saturday's game. Kendrell Bell, a former Laney High star, will stay at middle linebacker despite the season-ending injury to strong-side linebacker Boss Bailey.

Injuries: Quarterback Quincy Carter received stitches in his nose but will play against South Carolina, as will split end Terrence Edwards and running back Jasper Sanks, both of whom missed time with cramps.

Key stat: The Bulldogs scored on four of their five possessions that reached the Eagles' 20-yard line.

Analysis: The Bulldogs will be playing against the Gamecocks' reconfigured 3-3-5 defense, which is designed to look like the vaunted units at Mississippi State. Georgia had little trouble against Mississippi State's defense in 1996 and 1997, winning both games by a combined score of 85-19.

Quote: "We're going with that pickle juice. You're supposed to drink two ounces of pickle juice every day, and that helps you on your cramps. So we're starting that today. We've got a gallon of it." -- Donnan, on the newly popular treatment for cramps