December 19, 2010

Figgins keeping an open mind

Bruce Figgins said Sunday he hasn't stopped playing tight end altogether, but his getting some looks at fullback is more than a simple experiment.

"I'm still a tight end, but we're just trying to give some different looks with some different formations," Figgins said. "We're just doing some different stuff."

Head coach Mark Richt said Saturday that the Bulldogs would give Figgins a look at fullback after senior captain Shaun Chapas agreed with trainers to have season-ending ankle surgery last Friday.

"I'm not sure what the future holds, but we're getting a good look at it now," Figgins said. "I'm just learning."

Figgins said most of his looks have been when the Bulldogs are in short yardage or goal line sets.

The Columbus native played in all 12 games for Georgia this year, making one start while catching three passes for 19 yards and two touchdowns.

Figgins said he was first approached about his new responsibilities by coaches prior to practice last Sunday.

At 265 pounds, Figgins said if the move does become permanent, he will likely have to drop a little weight.

But based on what he's heard from new strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski that might not be so difficult to do.

"My weight would have to come down some," Figgins said. "But with the changes that have been discussed, I'm sure that will not be a problem."

Strickland non-committal about return

Backup offensive lineman Tanner Strickland was non-committal about returning for his final year after receiving his degree in Speech Communications Friday morning.

"Right now I'm just focusing on this year and finishing out the season on a good note," Strickland said. "I haven't even thought about next season yet."

A 6-foot-5, 319-pound junior from Nashville, Ga., Strickland who redshirted in 2007 and missed 2009 with a shoulder injury, appeared in all 12 games for the Bulldogs this fall making three starts.

Practice change-up for Dawgs

To break up the normal practice drudge, the Bulldogs finished up Sunday's 40-minute practice in pads with a 36-minute session of "grass basketball" games.

"Grass basketball" is similar to the sport of Ultimate Frisbee except the Bulldogs used footballs Sunday. An eight-team playoff format was utilized and the defensive lineman/outside linebackers emerged as champions. In the final, they defeated the quarterbacks/specialists. The other teams consisted of offensive linemen, defensive backs, wide receivers/tight ends, running backs, inside linebackers, and managers/trainers.

Head coach Mark Richt named junior outside linebacker Justin Houston, who also served as the coach for his squad, the most valuable player.

"We had fun, it was good bonding time, and any time you can get everybody together and have some fun, it's good," said Houston. "We had three key players in Abry Jones, Demarcus Dobbs and Candler Cook, they pulled us through."

Sunday marked the sixth of eight days of bowl practice in Athens for the Bulldogs. They will have a total of 11 practice sessions including a pair of two-a-day workouts. The remainder of the on-campus practice schedule features a two-a-day workout on Monday and then a final session on Tuesday before breaking for the holidays. The team will reconvene in Memphis, Tenn., for final preparations on Dec. 26.

This and that

Among the free gifts Georgia players will receive from the AutoZone Liberty Bowl include an Apple iPod nano 6th Generation 8GB, a Fossil Watch, Nike training shoes, Nike sports sandals, Nike sunglasses, a Nike Air Jordan backpack and a commemorative football. … Fullback Fred Munzenmaier said that Chapas would never have decided to go ahead with his ankle surgery if not given the OK by teammates. "It took him a really long time to make his decision, because he was worried about doing what was best for the team," Munzenmaier said. "But every one of his teammates told Shaun to do what's best for him because we all want him to succeed."

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