ATHENS - Mark Richt was candid about the health of his defensive star after Wednesday's practice: Jarvis Jones is not quite all the way back. At least in Richt's opinion.
Jones, the All-American outside linebacker, has played the past two games and has not missed any practices lately. But Richt thinks Jones' strained groin, which caused him to miss the Florida Atlantic game on Sept. 15, is still a lingering concern.
Even if Jones won't admit it.
"You know what? I don't know if he would say that it is bothering him. But I've got a feeling it's not 100 percent right now," Richt said. "He's not gonna sit there and make an excuse, but it's not 100 percent."
That said, Richt doesn't appear too worried about it. After all, Jones had a sack and a tackle-for-loss in the Vanderbilt game, on Sept. 22. He was held in check by Tennessee last week. Richt was asked if he had noticed anything in practice about Jones and how fast he was playing.
"There's a different speed in the practice and the game, so we'll just have to wait till the game to see," Richt said. "And no matter how hard you go in practice you can't simulate the adrenaline rush you get in the game, and that kind of cures a lot of things."
Jones did not come up for interviews this week.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Jones not getting a sack against Tennessee was largely due to the blocking, including the Volunteers using backs to stop Jones, and a lot of three-step drops by quarterback Tyler Bray.
"It's nothing more than that," Grantham said. "He had a chance on a couple times to get something done and it didn't happen. It's just a matter of those things are gonna happen, as a good player you've gotta understand that people are after you, and they're gonna know where you are, and you gotta keep developing yourself and understand the game plan. And when you've got a chance to make some plays, you've gotta make them."
Overall, Georgia's pass rush has been a bit sluggish this season. While Jones has 4.5 sacks, and freshman Jordan Jenkins has three, Cornelius Washington (who had five last year) only has half a sack, and defensive end Abry Jones (who had four last year) has zero.
But the Bulldogs do have 56 quarterback pressures, a stat that Grantham often points to, and that would put them on pace to have about the same number as last year (158).
"I think at times it's been good," Grantham said. "I think the one thing those guys have done, if you look at the course of the whole year, they've limited the quarterback runs on passing plays since the first game."
(That was an allusion to the Buffalo quarterback's surprising ability to run the ball.)
Grantham also credited the pass rush for Georgia's three interceptions against Tennessee, including the two key ones by Sanders Commings in the fourth quarter.
"We didn't get sacks on them, but I'd rather have the interceptions," Grantham said. "Those interceptions come because they could've been sacks."