What Georgia feared was confirmed as fact Sunday afternoon as Georgia coach Mark Richt announced that senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens will indeed be lost for the year with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Richt said that Owens will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Sept. 9 and that the Florida native has already decided to accept a redshirt so he can return to the team in 2009.
"Oh yeah, there's not question about that," Richt said. "He knows that this could be a blessing in the long run, and if he rehabs well and gets in better condition he could come back better than ever."
True freshman A.J. Harmon is not expected to receive any playing time just yet, Richt said.
There was good news concerning Georgia's offensive line.
Sophomore Clint Boling returns from his one-game suspension and will immediately be inserted into the lineup as the starting right tackle with Josh Davis sliding back over to back up starting left tackle Kiante Tripp.
"We'll put Clint on the right side, along with Bean (Justin Anderson) and Cordy (Glenn)," Richt said. "Vince (Vance) will keep working at left guard, and Tanner (Strickland) we hope will get to the point where he can play, although he's probably not ready to work into a true rotation."
Strickland has been nursing a sore ankle.
Richt also said that Chris Davis will remain the starting center but would slide to left guard from time to time when freshman Ben Jones sees game action.
"Right now, I think we've got pretty good depth at both spots (offensive and defensive tackle) to finish the season, but if we lose much more we might really get thin," Richt said. "That's why it's good to have Clint back."
Richt insisted that Boling's move to right tackle was not a knock on Josh Davis.
"Josh played just like he's been practicing, but we also liked what (Anderson) did at right tackle," Richt said. "He made some mistakes, but he's definitely got the ability, so that's why we moved Josh back to left."
Richt said he felt a tad better about his team's performance in Saturday's 45-21 win over Georgia Southern after looking at tapes of the game.
"We played harder than I thought," Richt said. "I do think our defense fatigued more so than did the offense, but that's typical on those type of days when you're going against teams that like to spread you out and run quick snaps. It's kind of like a guy running a 100-meter dash. If he's in that stance a long time before you say go, you do that for several times in a row it will fatigue you."
NOTES: Richt said that running back Knowshon Moreno did in fact suffer just a cramp after his third touchdown run against the Eagles. ? Fullback Shaun Chapas received high marks for his blocking in Saturday's opener. ? Ten true freshmen and 10 redshirt freshmen saw their first action for the Bulldogs. ? Sophomore tight end Bruce Figgins did not play against Georgia Southern because an "in-house situation," Richt said. ? Senior wide receiver Kenneth Harris is questionable for Saturday with a high ankle sprain. ? Target date for the return of safety Quintin Banks (knee) and fullback Brannan Southerland (foot) is now Oct. 11 against Tennessee. ? Redshirt freshman Neland Ball (leg) was expected to be back at full speed Monday. ? Freshman cornerback Brandon Boykin suffered from cramps during the game and will play Saturday. ? Richt did make it to the Georgia Dome Saturday night to watch Alabama and Clemson, where son Jon is a freshman quarterback with the Tigers. Jon Richt is being redshirted but did dress out for the game. "My eyes are not as good as they used to be and I was way up high in one of the end zones," Richt said. "I watched more on TV than I did the actual game." As for the Crimson Tide: "Very impressive, but that's for another day," Richt said.