This is hard to believe, but two weeks from tonight we will play the first games of the 2008 season. And because the injury bug has bitten frequently in the last seven days, there are some things that need to get resolved in a hurry.
Here are just a few of the burning questions that need to get answered in the next 14 days.
1. How huge will the loss of Trinton Sturdivant be for Georgia? I think it’s really huge but managing these kind of things is what coaches are paid to do and why recruiting for depth is so important. If this injury happens on an SEC team with serious depth issues, it could be devastating. But, as Chip Towers pointed out, over the past few seasons Georgia has made recruiting offensive linemen a priority. This is where that decision should pay off.
Georgia will put another really good player into that left tackle spot. But I also know this: There is a reason that Sturdivant has been holding down the left tackle spot pretty much since the day he walked onto campus. He was the best lineman Georgia had. The Bulldogs will still be good at that position. But they can’t be AS good. On such subtle distinctions championships are sometimes won or lost in the SEC. Only time will tell.
And here is the other question. Do you move right tackle Kiante Tripp, over to the left side? Some coaches say no because now you’re putting new players at TWO different positions, creating more disruption on the offensive line. Other coaches say you have to put the best player possible at left tackle because he protects the blind side of your quarterback.
And keep this in mind if you’re a Georgia fan. Under new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, South Carolina is working on different ways to take advantage of the skills of its best pass rusher, Eric Norwood. Norwood has moved to outside linebacker but Johnson told me that Norwood would continue to put pressure on quarterbacks because he does it so well. Georgia will see a lot of Norwood when the Bulldogs go to Columbia on Sept. 13.
2. Will Mitch Mustain be the guy at Southern Cal? USC quarterback Mark Sanchez dislocated his left kneecap in practice last Friday. Sanchez said he hopes to be back for the opener at Virginia on Aug. 30.
This opens the door for Mustain, who won eight games as a true freshman at Arkansas in 2006 but transferred after a serious falling out with Houston Nutt and the Razorback coaching staff.
A lot of people have questioned whether or not all the drama surrounding Mustain’s transfer was really necessary. I know because I was one of them. But there were a lot of people in Arkansas who are convinced that Nutt completely mishandled the entire Mitch Mustain situation and forced a great player to go elsewhere. The fallout on all sides was considerable and the hurt feelings are still significant.
It would be sweet redemption for Mustain if he were able to take over the USC offense and have some success. And it sure would make a lot of Arkansas fans ever madder to see Mustain playing pitch and catch in a Southern Cal uniform on national television against Ohio State on Sept. 13. This will be fun to watch.