Georgia is through the gauntlet (probably)

semerson@macon.comSeptember 23, 2012 

ATHENS -- It is a season benchmark Mark Richt will not acknowledge. And yet going back to the spring and summer, it was a vitally important one for the Georgia football team.

Before the season began, any big doubts about the Bulldogs as contenders began with the fact that the defense was racked with suspensions: Four projected starters were out for the first two games, including the SEC opener at Missouri, and two more would miss the first four games.

The goal, it seemed, was for Georgia to survive.

Instead the Bulldogs did more. They thrived.

Georgia has emerged from the opening stretch with a 4-0 record, a rank of No. 5 in the AP and coaches’ polls and an average margin of victory of 31 points.

“I think everybody’s that had an opportunity to play more than they would have has benefitted from it, and we’ve won to this point through it all,” Richt said. “So that’s good, too.”

The expectation is that Georgia will finally return to a full deck when Tennessee (3-1) visits on Saturday. But Richt remained coy Sunday when asked whether safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree will play.

“Yeah, we’ll figure it out in pregame warmup, I guess. Just like last week,” Richt said.

That appeared to be saying that once again the only indication whether they will play would be whether Rambo and Ogletree are dressed.

But the evidence would indicate that the pair will be back this week:

• It has been widely reported, although never confirmed, that Rambo and Ogletree ran afoul of the school’s student-athlete drug policy. The punishment for a second violation is a four-game violation, and Georgia has now played four games.

• Cornerback Malcolm Mitchell said last week, “After this game we get some guys back.”

• Fullback Zander Ogletree, who also has not played and by all signs is suspended, tweeted last week, “All I got to say when next Monday come Me,

‘Herschel Walker-ish’

Freshman tailback Todd Gurley is the SEC’s leading rusher and ranks 11th nationally in all-purpose yardage, thanks to his kick returns. After Saturday’s game, senior Tavarres King called Gurley’s second touchdown, a 29-yarder in which he shed several tacklers, “Herschel Walker-ish.”

Richt said Sunday that Gurley’s performances have just mirrored what he did in the preseason. Or perhaps were a bit better.

“We got a pretty good taste of what he was gonna look like,” Richt said. “I’ll just say we were all really looking forward to look like in some real games. Because we were hopeful that he would do just what he was doing in the scrimmages. And that’s what he’s been doing. And maybe just a tad bit more.”

Injury updates

Richt didn’t have a firm injury update on defensive end Abry Jones, who hurt his ankle in the game. But Richt reiterated that he doesn’t think it’s serious.

Safety Shawn Williams appears good to go after being slowed a bit against Vanderbilt. Richt said Williams had a spasm in his groin, but was able to play through it.

The one who got away

Tennessee junior receiver Cordarelle Patterson was a key recruiting target for Georgia earlier this year. Patterson chose the Vols on National Signing Day and is now the team’s second-leading receiver, with 19 catches for 259 yards and two touchdowns.

“We knew he was a special player. We wanted him big time, and he just looked a big-time difference maker, big playmaker,” Richt said of the former junior-college player. “The fact he’s a couple years out of high school, even more a threat to come in and make some things happen immediately.”

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service