Notebook: UGA leading receiver out for season

Bennett tears ACL during practice

pobley@thestate.com and semerson@macon.comOctober 3, 2012 

University of Georgia's Michael Bennett celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown against the University of South Carolina at Sanford Stadium in Athens, G.A. Athens, G.A. 09-10-2011. C. Aluka Berry - The State Media Company

C. ALUKA BERRY/CABERRY@THESTATE. — The State

— Georgia has suffered its first major injury of the 2012 season.

Michael Bennett, the team’s leading receiver through five games, is out for the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee during Tuesday’s practice.

UGA athletics trainer Ron Courson said Bennett would undergo surgery at a date to be determined.

The injury happened on the final play of Tuesday’s practice while Bennett was engaged in a block, according to coach Mark Richt.

“As he was moving, no one ran into him, no one rolled into him, nothing like that, his knee bucked. And there it was,” Richt said during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference.

Bennett, a redshirt sophomore, was leading the team with 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns.

The Bulldogs are deep at receiver: Five players have caught a touchdown, and that doesn’t include Malcolm Mitchell, who has moved back to offense from defensive back, or Chris Conley, a sophomore whose role had diminished this season.

Mitchell played cornerback for the first four games of the season, but had moved back to offense with the defense at full strength. Mitchell (six catches for 74 yards this season) was the team’s leading receiver last year.

“Now, especially with Bennett’s injury, we’re going to be using him more offensively,” Richt said.

The team also has two senior starters: Marlon Brown and Tavarres King. Junior Rantavious Wooten could also see a greater role.

Bennett had emerged as one of the team’s top threats, not only in the possession receiver role he had as a freshman, but in all phases of the passing game.

“God has a plan for me and everything happens for a reason,” Bennett posted on his Twitter account. “Get ready for a historic season Dawg nation. Our boys are gonna get it done!”

Special or not?

Richt defended the play of his special teams units, though he was the first to admit there have been notable gaffes.

Georgia has been victimized by long returns and missed field goals while also making bad decisions on when and where to field kicks.

Perhaps best highlighting the team’s inconsistency, kicker Marshall Morgan has missed a chip-shot field goal but has nailed a pair beyond 50 yards. He also has missed three PATs

“We’ve blocked two punts. We’ve had a fake tried on us and we stopped it,” he said. “We’ve had excellent kickoff coverage. … Extra points have been an adventure and no doubt we’ve got to get better at that.”

Fresh legs

Perhaps the most refreshing — and most important — discovery for Georgia this season has been the play of its freshman running back duo.

Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have teamed for 992 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, living up to their billing as two of the highest-rated prospects coming out of high school.

“I really think they’re doing a phenomenal job, just being young as they are and not knowing what they’re getting into with the SEC,” King said. “They are mature ahead of their years.”

Their eagerness to team up at Georgia instead of heading to different locales in order to “be the man” impressed Richt during the recruiting process.

“They almost sold us on it,” he said. “I think they had the thought of playing together, they had the thought of being roommates and just being together through college. I think they had the dream of maybe one day sharing the load where they went.

“For it to happen so far the way it has happened this year, I can’t imagine dreaming it up better than it has been.”

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