ATHENS - Georgia nose tackle John Jenkins has a sprained ankle, which caused him to miss Wednesday's practice, but head coach Mark Richt doesn't believe it will keep him out of Saturday's game against Ole Miss.
"We think he'll be fine," Richt said after practice. "But we didn't want to put him out there today. We think he'll be ready."
Jenkins has started every game this season, alternating between nose tackle and defensive end. He has 27 tackles, one for a loss, and his 10 quarterback pressures is third on the team, behind Jarvis Jones (19) and Jordan Jenkins (13).
Elsewhere on the injury front, Richt said fullback Merritt Hall (sprained ankle) is unlikely to play. That means junior Zander Ogletree is likely to earn his first start of the season. Freshman fullback Quayvon Hicks (concussion) practiced on Wednesday and would back up Ogletree.
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Georgia’s kick returners, especially Malcolm Mitchell, have been very adventuresome in bringing kickoffs out of the end zone. Richt would like to see that stop.
Asked if he was okay with his returners doing it as much as they have, Richt simply answered: “No.”
There have been times that Mitchell has brought a kickoff out despite being catching it deep. During the Kentucky game, Mitchell was visibly frustrated when teammate Kyle Karempelis motioned for him to take the touchback.
Mitchell does have one semi-long return, for 48 yards against South Carolina. But he’s only averaging 21.8 yards per return, and with a touchback now coming out to the 25, Richt would prefer less risk-taking.
“If we’re in there I’d like to just take the 25-yard line, I’d be very happy with that,” Richt said. “If it’s just a low line-driver, there’s no hang time, maybe, and that’s where there’s just a little gray area sometimes.”
Dantzler has to compete
Sophomore Watts Dantzler was competing for a starting job in the preseason, and once the season started he was regarded as the sixth man in a six-man rotation. But Dantzler's star has fallen.
He didn't even make the travel roster for the Florida game. (Although he did get in the stadium, and can be seen hugging fellow offensive lineman Austin Long when Long jumped into the crowd after the game.)
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Tuesday that there is a weekly competition on the offensive line, and Dantzler just didn't do well enough. the Bulldogs took 10 linemen to the game, including walk-on Preston Mobley.
Bobo also explained why senior Richard Samuel hasn't had an opportunity to play at fullback, despite the injuries at that position. Samuel was listed as a co-backup with Hicks earlier this season, but was passed by Ogletree and has yet to see any significant action at tailback or fullback.
"Merritt and Zander and Quayvon are different type fullbacks from Richard," Bobo said. "Richard is more of a hybrid-type tailback-fullback. But that game right there (against Florida) is a downhill, physical ballgame, and the runs we were using sometimes that fullback is like an extra lineman. You've gotta be more physical."