Line suffers another big loss

ATHENS, Ga. --- Another season-ending injury to a Georgia offensive lineman has made the young pups protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford even younger.

Junior left tackle Vince Vance will undergo reconstructive surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, coach Mark Richt said Sunday, leaving No. 10 Georgia with a starting lineup that will include three freshmen and two sophomores for Saturday's home game against No. 22 Vanderbilt.

The loss easily gives Georgia the youngest starting offensive line among teams in the top 25.

"The good thing is they're not true freshmen anymore; they're six games into the season," Richt said. "Even the sophomores are getting some experience under their belt. This season bodes well, but I think the future seems very bright if everybody comes back from injuries well."

Georgia's projected lineup for Saturday includes two true freshmen -- center Ben Jones and guard Cordy Glenn -- and a redshirt freshman, right tackle Justin Anderson.

Sophomore left tackle Clint Boling and redshirt sophomore guard Chris Davis round out the starting lineup. The top backups are redshirt freshman Tanner Strickland and redshirt sophomore Josh Davis.

The main question this week, Richt said, is whether Glenn will remain at right guard and Davis at left guard.

Vance is the second starting left tackle the Bulldogs have lost to a knee injury, joining Trinton Sturdivant, who was hurt in the preseason. Vance also has MCL damage that Richt said could repair itself. He is expected to be ready to play next season.

Sophomore Kiante Tripp, who started three games at left tackle, is moving back to the offensive line from tight end to provide depth.

That move was made easier after tight end Bruce Figgins decided Sunday to play the rest of the season and delay shoulder surgery until January after feeling good after Georgia's 26-14 win over Tennessee.

Despite the loss of Vance, Stafford wasn't sacked in an Southeastern Conference game for the first time since 2007. Richt said Stafford played his best game "standing in that pocket and making some outstanding throws with some guys bearing down on him a little bit," but the line showed improvement.

"Our guys step in and don't miss a beat," Stafford said. "They're starting to jell a little bit."

Reach Marc Weiszer at marc.weiszer@morris.com.

SATURDAY'S GAMES

- Georgia Tech at Clemson, noon (ESPN2)

- Vanderbilt at Georgia, 12:30 p.m. (Fox-Ch.54)

- LSU at South Carolina, 8 (ESPN)

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