This and that: The depleted receiving corps, injury updates, downfield passing

semerson@macon.comOctober 29, 2013 

ATHENS - The depth of Georgia's problem at receiver was illustrated during Mark Richt's press conference on Tuesday. And in somewhat comical fashion.

Richt was asked which receivers would be available for Saturday's game against Florida.

"It's a good question. I'll have to look at the depth chart," he said.

And then Richt literally looked down at the depth chart.

"Rhett McGowan is going to play. Kenny Towns will be available to play," Richt said, listing two receivers who came to campus as walk-ons.

"I wouldn't bet on Chris Conley right, as far as being able to play," Richt said of the junior starter, who sprained his ankle at Vanderbilt. "(Rantavious) Wooten will play, I think, and Reggie Davis will think. (Jonathan) Rumph will be healthy."

And starter Michael Bennett is due to return after missing two games with a torn meniscus.

"I really did have to look," Richt said, smiling and shaking his head, and then remembering another walk-on receiver. "Oh, and (Michael) Erdman. Erdman, doggone it, Erdman's ready."

Richt also forgot redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs, as well as several freshmen expected to redshirt. But even if Tibbs is included, that makes only four receivers recruited to Georgia on scholarship expected to play against Florida. Besides Conley, the team is also without Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley, out for the season with knee injuries.

"I think these guys are good players. But I had to sit here and think who's out there," Richt said. "Normally I can just rattle that off. And I know who's there, I know who's the top six or seven."

Harvey-Clemons practices

Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (foot) took another positive step on Tuesday, practicing with the other defensive backs. Harvey-Clemons was only running on the side during Monday's practice.

Harvey-Clemons' status has been questionable for the Florida game, but being able to practice on Tuesday is a hopeful sign.

A few more observations from the media viewing period of Tuesday's practice:

- Todd Gurley and Bennett were both working with the first team. Both were running and cutting pretty well. Bennett was in a non-contact jersey, just like Monday, but Gurley was once again in a regular jersey. Gurley especially looked pretty healthy.

- Ray Drew was getting some work with the outside linebackers. Drew has only played defensive end this season.

- Receiver Jonathan Rumph was also working with the second team. Rumph has yet to play this season, but the fact he's not on scout team is another sign the team is not planning to redshirt him.

Mitchell update

Speaking of Mitchell, the junior continues to rehab around the team in an effort to be ready for next season.

"He's not moping around," Richt said. "He's working hard. He feels like he's ahead of schedule. He's been a big encouragement to other guys."

In fact Mitchell has been helping freshman cornerback Reggie Wilkerson, who tore his ACL over the summer and is also out for the year.

Quarterback Aaron Murray joked that Mitchell looks good enough walking around that he's told him to play.

"He's walking around without a limp, he's working out. I'm like: Man you look like you're ready to go right now. I definitely wish we had him back out there with us. But injuries happen, everyone in the country is dealing with injuries. It's very unfortunate that it happened to him and happened so early in the year."

Matthews a "bonus"

Freshman free safety Tray Matthews may be back practicing, but Richt isn't assuming that he'll play yet.

"Right now Tray would be a bonus for us if he can, in fact, go full speed," Richt said, before adding: "I'm not saying he wouldn't play. But I'm just saying that we're still planning without him, but he is getting some reps. The more he shows that he can do it, the better shot that he'll have at playing in the game."

Matthews has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury. He practiced Monday in a normal jersey, which usually means there were no limitations.

Surgery for Carter

Freshman inside linebacker Reggie Carter is set to undergo surgery for a cartilage issue in his knee, according to Richt.

It's uncertain how long Carter will be out. But it sounds like a similar timetable to receiver Michael Bennett, who tore his meniscus in the Tennessee game (on Oct. 5), and is due to return for Saturday's game.

Fellow freshmen Tim Kimbrough and Johnny O'Neal are the next top backups, according to Richt.

"They'll be pretty good linebackers in the future," Richt said. "Are they really ready to play 70, 80 or 90 percent of the snaps if something happened to the other guys? It'd be tough for them, but that's who will go in if something happens."

Downfield passing

Richt acknowledged a playcalling mistake from the Vanderbilt game: Georgia did not even attempt a single deep pass.

"I would say if we had to play the game again we would have taken a couple shots downfield," Richt said. "Whether you complete them or not, it's just good to do."

No blue or orange team

Last week Tennessee first-year head coach Butch Jones instructed his players to refer to Alabama as "the Red team," because he feared his players putting too much into the team's recent struggles against the Crimson Tide. Richt was asked Tuesday if he ever considered doing something like that with Florida, prior to the current two-game win streak.

"We never called them the Blue Team or the Orange Team," Richt said. "I think you've just gotta plan the best you can, practice the best you can, and just get after them the best you can. Believe. ...

"Everybody has their ways on doing things, and if I was an expert on it, the best at it, everybody'd be asking what to do. But we'd have a better record against Florida too."

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