ATHENS — Austin Long grabbed a copy of Wednesday’s injury report from a reporter after practice Wednesday.
“Looks about right,” he said playfully. “Glad my name’s not on it.”
It’s unusual that it’s not. Since he’s been at Georgia, Long has had two back surgeries and at least another half-dozen twists and sprains. As a result, he has reached his junior year having played in just three games, including this past Saturday’s opener.
That’s a far cry from what was expected when he signed with Georgia out of Memphis. He was the No. 2 prospect in the state of Tennessee and a top-5 rated player at his position.
“I never missed a practice or a game like sixth grade through high school,” said the 6-foot-5, 324-pounder. “I played the last six games of my senior year with a broken back.”
Long is expected to make up for lost time this week. At the very least he figures heavily in the Bulldogs’ plans and could end up starting at right tackle against Missouri. Starter John Theus and his main backup Watts Dantzler are both questionable with ankle injuries.
“It’s a big motivator,” Long said. “Coming here I always wanted to start. To be able to start in such a big game as this, the first SEC game against Missouri, it’s an honor. I’m looking forward to it.”
Long is competing with redshirt freshman Xzavier Ward for the start if Theus can’t go. But indications are that Theus, the talented true freshman from Jacksonville, is going to give it a go.
Theus and Dantzler, both of whom have left ankle injuries, were working in green jerseys on their pass-protection drops under the watchful eye of a trainer off to the side of the line drills Wednesday. Both players had their ankles heavily wrapped. Theus appeared to be moving without much problem while Dantzler had more of a visible limp.
“They did OK,” Richt said. “They didn’t go very long, but we didn’t want Theus to get anything more than scout team work.”
Malcolm Mitchell’s outlook improves
Georgia’s injury situation improved dramatically on Wednesday. Starting cornerback Malcolm Mitchell, who missed the opener with a sprained ankle, practiced for the second straight day in a green (non-contact) jersey and appeared to be running around without limitations.
“He did pretty good,” Richt said. “I’m encouraged. I’m not certain that he’s full speed, but it’s Wednesday. So I’m encouraged that we have a couple more days to see.”
Boo feeling fine
Starting tailback Ken “Boo” Malcome practiced without limitations on Wednesday and says he’s ready to go Saturday. The sophomore from Decatur had to leave the Buffalo in the second half with a sprained left hand. He said he’ll wear a removable cast against Missouri but will carry the football in his dominant right hand.
Malcome missed Tuesday’s practice but it wasn’t because of the hand. “I think I had food poisoning,” he said.
Like freshman Todd Gurley, Malcome seems unconcerned about starting.
“It’s not about starting,” he said. “We’re all going to get in the game the same amount of time. It’s about what we do with it.”
Georgia practiced for 90 minutes Wednesday in shoulder pads, shorts and helmets. Afterward, Richt was complimentary of the job the scout team did simulating Missouri.
“Right now they don’t have a lot of substitute and I appreciate what they do,” Richt said. “Everybody has a role to play, and Tuesday and Wednesday are really important days. They were working hard out there from the time we started special teams and that carried over into offense and defense.”
Etc. . . .
Starting split end Marlon Brown said he feels fine and is feeling no ill effects of the hamstring injury that kept him out of last Saturday’s game and expects to be full speed against Missouri. . . . Freshman Marshall Morgan will handle extra points and field goals Saturday but is competing with walk-on Jamie Lindley to handle kickoffs As the NFL opens its season this weekend, the Bulldogs feature 35 former players on active rosters. That’s tied for second nationally with LSU and Texas. USC leads the was this year with 42 alums on rosters.
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