THE TEN AT 10
1. If you feel compelled to help injured Southern University player Devon Gales and his family, now you can.
Southern University Athletics has set up an official fundraising account that was established to help assist the family with his Gales’ care and their expenses. Gales’ family, which includes his mother and father, step parents and two young siblings, lives in Baton Rouge and will be displaced for several weeks while the wide receiver recovers from a spinal cord injury suffered against Georgia this past Saturday.
Some bogus GoFundMe accounts were set up in the days following the injury. However, THIS ONE was set up by the Southern University Foundation System and will go directly to assisting Gales and his family.
Gales, a 5-9, 158-pound sophomore, suffered “several neck fractures” while blocking on the Jaguars kickoff return team in this past Saturday’s 48-6 loss to Georgia. He remains hospitalized in Athens Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery this past Sunday to stabilize the fractures.
According to people who have visited with Gales, he has movement in his upper body and extremities but currently is unable to walk. The long-term effects of the injury will not be known for several weeks or possibly months.
“He’s speaking, and he’s talking, and he understands the road that’s in front of him,” Southern coach Dawson Odums told the Baton Rouge Advocate on Monday. “He’s a great guy, and he has the will and determination to handle whatever problems he has.”
2. Meanwhile, Georgia has been doing everything it can to assist Gales in his recovery. Ron Courson, UGA’s highly decorated director of sports medicine, has been intimately involved since the injury occurred on the field just in front of the Bulldogs’ sideline.
Georgia coaches, including head coach Mark Richt, and both of the Bulldogs’ team chaplains, Kevin Hynes and Thomas Settles, have visited Gales in the hospital and continue to counsel the family.
“We’re trying to cover him up with as much love as we can, and let him know that we care, let him know that we’re here to help,” Richt said. “We’re just gonna continue to pray, and I know the Bulldog nation is behind him as well. There may come a time where there may be some needs. Not exactly sure yet. But if it does come to that I’m going to be calling all Dawgs to get involved and to help out.”
Unfortunately, UGA has a lot of experience dealing with these types of catastrophic injuries. It had two baseball players – Chance Veazey and Jonathan Taylor – suffered permanent spinal cord injuries during a 17-month period from 2009 to 2011.
3. Lost in the tragic circumstances that have befallen Gales is the potentially devastating effect on the person who delivered the blow that resulted in the injury.
Place-kicker Marshall Morgan collided with Gales at the 28-yard with two minutes remaining in the third quarter after Georgia had scored to take a 48-6 lead. Both athletes met high in a helmet-to-helmet hit, and Gales immediately crumpled and fell on the 30-yard line, where he remained essentially motionless until he was removed via a backboard.
Morgan is listed at 6-3, 194, and is known for his athleticism and strong tackling on kick coverage. The senior from Fort Lauderdale visited Gales and his family in the hospital but has not been available to comment since the injury. But it’s safe to say that Morgan could probably use some love and counsel as well.
“I think it was good for him to go and talk to everybody,” Richt said at the Bulldogs’ weekly news conference on Tuesday. “He understands that it’s just football. Nobody’s mad at Marshall and he didn’t do anything that was out of line in any way, shape or form. It’s just unfortunate.”
Brad Gaines, a tight end for Vanderbilt, was never the same after Ole Miss defensive back Chucky Mullins was left paralyzed after tackling him in October of 1989. Mullins died two years later.
An ESPN SEC Storied documentary, “It’s Time: The Brad Gaines/Chucky Mullins Story,” was made about the effects that play had on both men’s lives and was released last fall.
4. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs must carry on with their season. They’ll do so by playing in what happens to include the biggest game of the year on Saturday against Alabama.
One of the main storylines heading into that monumental contest is whether Nick Chubb can sustain his streak of 100-yard-rushing games. Chubb, who has compiled 599 yards on 71 carries (8.4 average) and six touchdowns, leads the nation with 12 consecutive games of more than 100 yards.
Alabama counters with the SEC’s best rushing defense, the fourth-best in the country at 58.6 yards per game, and has not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. The Crimson Tide returned their entire starting line from last season and rotates nine players in a typical game.
While Chubb has downplayed the importance of his 100-yard streak, Georgia’s linemen have made no secret what it means to them.
“I want to keep that going,” junior guard Greg Pyke said. “I know he doesn’t really care about that, but that comes down to offensive line. I mean, that’s something to be proud of. Your back is averaging 100 yards every game. That’s crazy, and I think that’s going to make us play that much harder, to kind of keep that streak going.”
5. Georgia is averaging 257.8 yards a game, which is second in the SEC behind LSU and 17th nationally. The Bulldogs’ team per-carry average of 6.87 yards leads the league and is fourth nationally.
While the offensive line gets at least some of the credit for that, Pyke says a lot of it is owed to the unique skills and abilities of Chubb and Sony Michel.
“They really do a great job on setting up those blocks for us,” Pyke said Monday. “Their vision is unbelievable and they’re powerful guys. They’re probably some of the strongest guys that we have on the team. They just fight for those extra yards and I think that’s what this game is going to really come down to.”
That said, Pyke says he doesn’t expect the Bulldogs to be ripping off a bunch of long runs like they have in their first four games.
“I don’t think that’s really going to happen that much because they’ll stack the box and their defensive line is so good,” he said. “But those 4- and 5-yard gains are going to really add up and that’s going to be what wins the game for us, just grinding, keep picking up those yards, those ugly yards, but in the end I think they’re going to add up and determine who is going to win this.”
6. Not surprisingly, coming off their scintillating performances against Southern, both Chubb and Michel were named captains by the Georgia coaches for Saturday’s game. Also designated captains for the game were offensive tackle John Theus and linebacker Leonard Floyd.
7. Georgia practiced for about 90 minutes in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets on Monday. With their indoor practice facility still a long way from undergoing construction – a Dec. 14th groundbreaking has been set – the Bulldogs practiced on Woodruff Practice Fields in a steady rain.
“We still did a good job,” junior wide receiver Reggie Davis said. “B-Mac (receivers coach Bryan McClendon) always says you’re either going to be a wet winner or a wet loser. Either way you’re going to be wet, so we’re going to be winners.”
Georgia spent a lot of time working on special teams on Monday and correcting mistakes it identified from a video review of Saturday’s game versus Southern. They also introduced the basics of the game plan for Alabama.
“We’re still focusing on the little things and on improving,” Richt said afterward. “We have to use each day to get better, correct our mistakes and get our plan in. We need to learn this plan front and back so that we’ll be able to execute it with confidence. We need the scouts to keep busting it and giving us a good look.”
8. Speaking of Saturday’s game, if you haven’t already secured a ticket, plan on spending a lot of money to attend. According to the website stubhub.com, tickets in the club level and lower level between the 20-yard lines range from $1,000 to $2,500, and they’ve been going up all week. Some upper level tickets were even going for $500 and up.
9. We haven’t had a chance to hear from Chubb yet this week nor a lot of the Bulldogs’ frontline offensive players, including quarterback Greyson Lambert and Malcolm Mitchell. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up with them Tuesday. The Bulldogs are holding their weekly media day starting at noon today at the Butts-Mehre football complex.
Meanwhile, the AJC’s Steve Hummer was in Tuscaloosa on Monday to attend the Crimson Tide’s weekly media day. He wrote about the Bulldogs’ remarkable similarities to Alabama, which Nick Saban acknowledged at the news conference. Look for more reports on Alabama from Hummer here on DawgNation.com and others on our sister website, SECCountry.com.
10. And, finally, Richt was asked whether he will use the Bulldogs’ heartbreaking 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game as motivation this week. He acknowledged that they have watched the video, but not for motivational purposes.
“The biggest reason we would look at it is because it’s the same head coach and the same defensive coordinator,” Richt said, referring to Saban and Kirby Smart. “That would be the main reason why we would. We’re a little bit different on offense now, too, so I don’t know how much value it would have, but you always want to see if you can find anything that can help you.”
Richt was asked the same question about the infamous 2008 blackout game, in which the Bulldogs fell behind big early on the way to a 41-30 loss.
“That’s so long ago I don’t even remember,” he said. “I know they got after us pretty good and we did come out and play better the second half but I don’t know, they might have been beating us so bad they just relaxed. It’s been a long time.”