Injuries piling up for Bulldogs

semerson@macon.comSeptember 1, 2012 

ATHENS -- For all the suspension issues, the Georgia football team was on the verge of finishing August mostly devoid of injuries.

Now Georgia enters Missouri week with the injuries piling up, and at some key spots.

Cornerback Malcolm Mitchell and right tackle John Theus both have ankle injuries, and their status for the trip to Missouri is in doubt.

Mitchell’s injury happened in Thursday’s walk-through, when he landed on someone’s foot.

“I don’t know how long it’ll be,” head coach Mark Richt said. “Hopefully he’ll be able to practice this week and play. But I really couldn’t tell you right now if he’ll be able to or not.”

Mitchell was wearing a boot Saturday as he sat on the Georgia sideline. Richt said he didn’t think it was a high ankle injury, which is more serious, but there was swelling Friday.

“You almost never have an injury on Thursday,” Richt said. “I didn’t see it happen. I just saw him getting escorted off the field, and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”

Theus was hurt in the second half of Saturday’s win over Buffalo. He had his left ankle iced and limped off the field on crutches.

Richt sounded a bit more hopeful about Theus, considering the nature of the position.

“Of all the positions, an ankle sprain of an offensive lineman, you have more guys that just wrap it up tight and go,” Richt said. “When you get some of your more skilled athletes, it’s just tougher to stop and change direction and those types of things. I’ve seen more offensive linemen go with a bum ankle than a skill guy, so that might help us in that regard.”

Theus’ main backup, sophomore Watts Dantzler, also limped off the field late in the game.

Ken Malcome, who started at tailback, left the game with a hand injury. There was no word on the severity of that. Malcome’s injury was overshadowed by the performance of the freshmen tailbacks, especially Todd Gurley.

Senior receiver Marlon Brown was ruled out Saturday with a minor muscle pull. But Brown was confident he would be able to play at Missouri.

Suspension issues

Meanwhile, Richt finally confirmed that Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree were suspended for this game. As for next week, he remained coy.

“We’ll find out next week what we’ll do next week,” Richt said.

Rambo and Ogletree were suspended because of a violation of the school’s drug policy, according to sources and other reports. Rambo’s violation is his second, meaning a four-game suspension, according to his high school coach. But that was before an appeal.

Ogletree has not had any known previous drug policy suspension, so his suspension would at first appear to be for one game.

In addition, since the policy is UGA’s own, the suspensions could always be increased or decreased.

Alternating punters

Georgia pulled a mild surprise by rotating senior walk-on Adam Erickson and freshman Collin Barber at punter. In fact, while Barber was officially the first-teamer, Erickson had more attempts.

That was because Erickson’s specialty is so-called pooch punting, trying to pin the opponent close to the end zone. So Erickson got the call when Georgia was in or close to Buffalo territory, and he ended up downing the punts inside the 20 each time, with no touchbacks.

“He’s just got a really good knack for it,” Richt said.

Barber, recruited to replace four-year starter Drew Butler, got two attempts. He showed his big leg, booting one for 57 yards and his other for 45 yards for a touchback.

Extra points

The game ball was delivered to the stadium by Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt, the UGA senior who won three gold medals, a silver and a bronze in London. Then UGA legend Charlie Trippi and former baseball player Chance Veazey were there to accept it.

• Cornerback Devin Bowman received extensive playing time, due to the absence of Mitchell. Bowman, a redshirt freshman, received the start because the Bulldogs opened in a nickel-back set.

• Richt had stated in the offseason that more veterans and starters would be tried on special teams. But with a few exceptions, most of the special-teamers were reserves. But that led to a couple interesting moves.

Receiver Chris Conley, participating on the punt return unit, blocked a punt. It was the team’s first blocked punt since last year’s Vanderbilt game -- when tight end Orson Charles did it.

Also, freshman tailback Keith Marshall was a member of the kickoff coverage unit.

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