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Georgia’s Southerland on the mend from broken foot


The Atlanta Journal-Consitution

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Athens — Brannan Southerland strolled into Georgia’s team meeting room wearing not one, but two red-and-white Nike sneakers.

Southerland received the results from Monday’s CT scan on Wednesday, and he got the news he was hoping for.

Though his fractured left foot still has some healing to do, he can start making the transition from his walking boot to a regular shoe. He will switch between the boot and a shoe for several hours every day, and he hopes to be done with the boot by Monday.

“This particular bone is just very, very slow healing. But [the doctor] was very happy with where it was at today,” Southerland said. “We’re going to progress as [the foot] will let us now.”

Southerland still expects the same time frame for his return: at best, Arizona State on Sept. 20; at the latest, Tennessee on Oct. 11.

“Of course I want to be out there and play in the first game and all the games, but anytime I think about that, I just remind myself of the disappointment I had when I found out I had to have the second surgery,” Southerland said. “I don’t want to have to have a third surgery.”

Eight Eagles suspended

Eight Georgia Southern players are suspended for the season opener on Aug. 30 against No. 1 Georgia, three of who will miss the first two games of the season, according to a report in the Statesboro Herald.

Based on the depth chart in Georgia Southern’s media guide, two projected starters (WLB Terrione Benefield and bandit Ronnie Wiggins) and three second-team players (DE Damon Suggs, WR Raja Andrews and LT Brandavious Mann) will be suspended.

Wiggins started six games last season and finished with 41 tackles. Suggs started all 10 of the games he played, also finishing with 41 tackles. Andrews led the team in receiving last season with 38 catches for 388 yards and three touchdowns.

DE Charwel Brown, RB Zeke Rozier and WR Garryon Taylor also will miss the game.

The Herald’s Web site posted a statement released Wednesday in which Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher announced the suspensions, which he said resulted from a “violation of institutional rules.”

“To be a member of the Eagle football program, student-athletes have specific rules to abide by. When the institution’s rules are not followed, then I will take immediate and appropriate action. I am disappointed to announce the suspensions concerning the respective student-athletes, but I expect all to learn from not doing right and make positive contributions to our program this season,” Hatcher said in the statement.

Almost the real thing

Thursday’s practice will be the first in which Georgia takes on its scout team, who will be emulating Georgia Southern.

Everything will be modeled after a real game day: stretches, pre-game routine, a coin toss, normal running clock and a united first-team offense and defense.

“It’s a big day for trying to simulate the game the best we can to get a taste of it,” coach Mark Richt said. “Even for our coaches to react to what might happen.”

Since the offense and defense have usually squared off during scrimmages, Thursday’s practice will be the first time the two have joined since the Bulldogs’ Sugar Bowl victory.

“It’s always fun to get everybody on the same sideline, put the enemy on the other sideline,” Richt said.

Richt said the Bulldogs usually start preparing for their first opponent 10 days in advance, but the team started a few extra days early because Georgia Southern’s offense and defense are so different than most teams.

The Eagles run a version of West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defense and their traditional option offense.

“That’s very different from how we line up. We don’t have anything that looks like that,” Richt said. “Their offense, we expect a spread. We do some of the things they do, but … we don’t do as much as they do.”

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