Sturdivant injury a tough blow for Dogs

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

There's been no escaping the preseason injuries this year in the SEC.

Florida's already had five ACL tears, and the one that hurts the most was to tight end Cornelius Ingram. The Gators had big plans for their two-tight end package featuring Ingram and Aaron Hernandez.

Ole Miss lost perhaps the best pass rusher in the league for half the season when Greg Hardy underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot, while Auburn lost starting cornerback Aairon Savage to a torn ACL.

But no loss has stung as much as Georgia finding out earlier this week that it would be without starting left offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant for the entire season. Sturdivant, the Bulldogs' best and most athletic offensive lineman, tore his ACL in a scrimmage.

The Bulldogs are good enough and deep enough to get through this setback, but losing a left tackle in the preseason is akin to losing your shortstop in baseball during spring training. Everybody else has to adjust.

As good as Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford is, you wonder what losing his left tackle will do to his psyche. A left tackle might as well be a bodyguard for a pocket passer like Stafford.

Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels, one of the best in the business, still has a couple of weeks to sort everything out. Redshirt freshman Josh Davis is getting most of the first-team work at left tackle, but Searels is smart enough to cross-train his guys. So sophomore guard Clint Boling is working some at left tackle, as are Kiante Tripp and Vince Vance. Tripp was working as the No. 1 right tackle before Sturdivant went down.

The Bulldogs also have younger players they like. Freshman Ben Jones may get a shot at both center and guard, while freshman Cordy Glenn will be one to watch at tackle.

A year ago, Searels got three freshmen ready to play in the offensive line, but this may be a more daunting challenge. Teams will test Georgia early on the left side and come after Stafford with everything they've got.

Of course, they were saying the same thing a year ago when the Bulldogs elected to start a true freshman at left tackle. Some guy named Sturdivant.

All he did was start 13 games and win Freshman All-SEC honors. The Bulldogs will miss him and may struggle early without him, but they're still good enough everywhere else to be in the middle of the SEC championship race.