Georgia-Florida: Pregame notes

semerson@macon.comNovember 2, 2013 

Jacksonville's EverBank Field a few hours before Saturday's kickoff.


JACKSONVILLE - If you go by warmups, Josh Harvey-Clemons is starting with the first-team defense, while Tray Matthews is coming off the bench.

Harvey-Clemons, who injured his foot at Vanderbilt, makes a quick return to the field. Matthews has missed the past three straight games with a hamstring injury.

Todd Gurley and Michael Bennett also appear to be starting.

Playing soft?

Hey, here's an interesting angle: Shawn Williams is here.

It was before last year's Florida game that Williams issued his famous "playing soft" rant, and which players and coaches have said helped save the season. In fact earlier this week head coach Mark Richt joked - I think he was joking - about Skyping in Williams to talk to this year's defense.

Williams is now a rookie with the Cincinnati Bengals, who played Thursday, so Williams has the weekend off. He's from Damascus, in south Georgia, which is a drive of a couple hours from Jacksonville. Richt and Williams exchanged a hug during warmups.

Gurley and Bennett warming up

In a sight for sore Georgia eyes, Todd Gurley and Michael Bennett are on the field warming up to play.

Bennett came out for warmups first, running routes with receivers in early warmups, and testing his cutting ability. He looks pretty healthy. So does Gurley, who spent some time stretching with strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski.

Chris Conley is on the sideline with crutches, so as expected he's out, even though he's on the trip. (Explanation for that below.)

Besides Aaron Murray, the other quarterbacks throwing to receivers include Hutson Mason, Faton Bauta and Parker Welch. As Mike Bobo stated earlier in the week, Bauta is the team's No. 3 quarterback. Christian LeMay did not make the travel roster.

Weather update

It's overcast today, but otherwise perfect weather: It's in the 70s, with a very light breeze.

They don't allow us on the field before games, so I can't say whether the rain has had much effect. But it hasn't rained here in about four or five hours, and I don't see anybody slipping or having trouble cutting.

Writing hurt

Inevitably the wacky run of Georgia Bulldogs having to undergo medical attention has now stretched to a beat writer.

Yours truly spent a few hours this morning in the emergency room at Amelia Island, along with my wife, as both of us apparently contracted food poisoning. And yes, it was food poisoning. I could offer details to prove it, but you deserve to be spared.

I had never been IVed before. So now I can check that off the list.

But here I am now, and ready to cover the World's Largest Outdoor Pity Party, appropriately enough while not at 100 percent myself. Remember that if you see me spell Mark Rikt's name wrong or something like that.

(I should point out that it did not occur on Amelia Island. We're pretty sure it was the quick lunch we had on the way down, and I'll protect the name of his chain because I'm nice, and I still like their veggie sandwiches.)

Conley is here, others are not

Georgia's travel roster is out, and the most notable player not to travel (at least in terms of relative surprise) is defensive lineman Toby Johnson. The junior had been dealing with an ankle sprain, which kept him out of Wednesday's practice. Receiver Kenneth Towns is also not here; Mike Bobo said the walk-on was banged-up earlier this week.

And freshman tailback A.J. Turman is not here, so you can pretty much put the redshirt on him.

The most notable inclusion on the travel roster is receiver Chris Conley, but the junior isn't expected to play. So why bring him? Well, as one UGA official pointed out, they're running out of players to include on the 70-man roster, so why not bring a good citizen and teammate who might help his team emotionally?

I suspect it's also because Conley can continue rehabbing his sprained ankle with the team.

And as expected Todd Gurley, Michael Bennett, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews are all here, and expected to play.

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