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Limping ’Dawgs lose another starting tackle

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia must find a new starting left tackle.

Again.

Vince Vance will need reconstructive knee surgery and miss the rest of the season, coach Mark Richt said Sunday.

The successor to Vance will be the team’s fourth first-string left tackle since the preseason.

Georgia lost left tackle Trinton Sturdivant to a season-ending knee injury before the first game. Kiante Tripp moved up as the starter in the first three games before moving to tight end. Vance, a sophomore, made his third start before hurting his right knee in the second quarter of No. 10 Georgia’s 26-14 win against Tennessee on Saturday.

Vance, a junior, was the only upperclassman among the five starting offensive linemen.

Georgia (5-1) could start three freshmen on the line next Saturday against Vanderbilt: center Ben Jones, guard Cordy Glenn and right tackle Justin Anderson. Another freshman, Aron White, made his first start at tight end against Tennessee.

Sophomore Clint Boling replaced Vance against Tennessee. Sophomore Chris Davis started at left guard.

Richt said Tripp will move back to tackle from tight end.

Vance will need surgery to repair his ACL, according to Richt, who said Vance also had damage to his MCL.

“It’s tough,” said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. “We’ve lost two left tackles now. ... We’ll have to mix and match up there, but they’re responding and they’re really not young anymore.”

Michigan’s streak of 33 bowls bids in jeopardy. Motor City Bowl officials were at the Big House to scout the Wolverines.

The lower-tier bowl would love to fill Ford Field with maize-and-blue clad fans, many of whom live a short drive away. But even the most optimistic of those fans can’t be sure the Wolverines can win four more games to be eligible for the postseason.

Rich Rodriguez’s debut season in Ann Arbor started shaky with a loss to Utah, looked worse after blowout losses at Notre Dame and to Illinois before sinking to new lows on Saturday because of a 13-10 loss to little-regarded Toledo (2-4).

Michigan (2-4) has its worst six-game record since 1967 — two seasons before Bo Schembechler took over — and its streak of playing in 33 straight bowls is looking as if it’s due to end.

“We can’t go anywhere but up — obviously,” cornerback Morgan Trent said.

Well, the Wolverines could continue to tumble. Michigan plays at No. 3 Penn State on Saturday and hosts No. 20 Michigan State next, hoping to avoid a fourth loss this season at home.

Michigan was likely going to struggle this season even if Lloyd Carr hadn’t retired because it lost Jake Long, Chad Henne, Mike Hart and others to the NFL.

But no one predicted college football’s winningest team would slump so much that it would lose to a Mid-American Conference team — and not even a particularly good one — for the first time.

Rodriguez acknowledged being embarrassed, but he also sounded confident about how his players and coaching staff would respond.

“I’ve been through this before, but that’s in the past,” said Rodriguez, who turned West Virginia’s program around. “Players aren’t going to lay down. Coaches aren’t going to lay down.

“We’ll get right back to work.”

To reach the necessary six victories, Michigan has to fix a lot of problems on both sides of the ball.

Quarterbacks Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan have been inconsistent, contributing to a lackluster offense.

A week after Illinois quarterback Juice Williams had a Michigan Stadium-record 431 yards of offense, Toledo’s Nick Moore caught 20 passes to break another mark against the Wolverines.

Tate getting MRI for knee injury suffered Saturday. North Carolina receiver Brandon Tate is being evaluated by doctors to determine the extent of the knee injury he suffered in Saturday’s win against Notre Dame.

Coach Butch Davis says Tate was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday evening. Tate sprained his right knee in the first quarter of the 29-24 win against the Fighting Irish and did not return, robbing the 18th-ranked Tar Heels of their big-play receiver and kick returner who has five touchdowns this season.

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