ATHENS – This is a week of transition at Georgia football practice: Malcolm Mitchell is working back on offense, and Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree – from all appearances – are getting ready to play on defense.
The latter two were suspended the first four games, and the team still won’t confirm they will play on Saturday against Tennessee. But a few players have let it slip that they’re back, and the fact Mitchell is working back on offense is another sign.
Mitchell moved from receiver to cornerback after last season as a reaction to attrition and suspensions in the secondary. Rambo’s imminent return at safety allows Sanders Commings, who had been at safety the past two games, to move back to cornerback.
So Mitchell spent Tuesday with the offense for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Mitchell was “a little rusty,” but still showed the playmaking ability that made him the team’s top receiver as a freshman.
“He’s gonna add to the passing game,” Bobo said. “But at the same time, we’re not just gonna throw him out there full time, we’ve gotta be in sync.”
Mitchell will work back on defense on Wednesday, and then probably split time on Thursday, according to head coach Mark Richt.
“I would say his reps on offense will increase and his reps on defense will probably decrease, but it’s hard to say for sure on that,” Richt said.
As for Rambo and Ogletree, it will be easier to incorporate them because they never left the defense. The two remain unavailable to the media this week, but Commings, who was suspended the first two games, relayed how he was handled those first two weeks.
“They make sure we get reps in practice, they make sure we’re focused, in on the gameplan, just as if we were playing those weeks,” Commings said. “By them doing that, when we do finally get to play it’s like we’ve been playing the whole time.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham acknowledged that handling the suspensions has been “a balancing act.”
“That’s probably been the most difficult thing,” he said. “You’ve got to develop guys and have a vision for, as the season goes along, getting your best guys on the field, getting them ready to play and those things. But at the same time, you’ve gotta get the guys ready to play at this moment. The balancing act between preparing guys to play the game and do well in the game, and then keeping guys continuing to develop who maybe weren’t playing, that’s been the challenge.”