Athens — To hear Mike Bobo enumerate Georgia’s deficiencies on offense is to realize that the Bulldogs problems on that side of the ball go much deeper than the recent dismissal of tailback Isaiah Crowell. Tailback, it seems, may be the least of their issues.
“Going into fall camp it’s going to be about trying build our identity, you know, who we are,” said Georgia’s offensive coordinator, who met with reporters Friday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. “We lost three guys off the offensive line and we’re still trying to find those five to seven linemen that are going to play and help us. We lose our top two tight ends, we lose our top fullback, one of our running backs is now gone and [defensive coordinator Todd] Grantham’s trying to steal one of our receivers. So there’s some parts that we’ve got to replace offensively.”
Georgia’s coaches all returned from vacations this past week. The Bulldogs host their annual “Dawg Night” elite prospect camp Friday evening at Sanford Stadium. Seventeen of their 19 signees are on campus — signees John Atkins and Leonard Floyd failed to achieve freshman eligibility and are headed to prep school, according to multiple reports — and the rest of the team never left town. So now Bulldogs acutely focused on preseason camp. Players report for fall orientation and testing on July 31 and actual on-field practices begin on Aug. 2.
Clearly, there is much work to get done, particularly on Bobo’s side of the ball.
“I do think we’ve got enough guys to go out and be successful offensively,” he said. “That’s what practice is for, that’s what camp is for and that’s our focus: Trying to figure out who we are, what’s our best personnel group, what gives us the best chance to be effective offensively.”
Bobo confirmed that senior Richard Samuel will work “primarily” at tailback now that Crowell is enrolled at Alabama State. Samuel was slated to make a full-time switch to fullback before Crowell was arrested on weapons charges and dismissed on June 29.
Redshirt sophomore Ken “Boo” Malcome of Decatur was bracketed with Crowell for the No. 1 spot and will enter fall camp there. He was Georgia’s fifth-leading rusher with 174 yards in six games, most of it coming after he left the team only to return 24 hours later in late September.
“Ken grew up a lot last year,” Bobo said. “Obviously it’s been documented that he was struggling with whether he wanted to be here and stuff. But I think he got his attitude right about what he had to do and how he approached every day. When he got his attitude right his play started to improve. He’s in a good place right now with his attitude. I saw him the other day and he’s confident. He’s still got to prove it on the field, but I’m pleased with where he’s at mentality and with his attitude and how he looks. So I’m excited about him.”
Of course, everybody is eager to find out how much the incoming freshmen can contribute. Five-star prospect Keith Marshall of Raleigh enrolled in January and participated in spring practice while four-star recruit Todd Gurley of Tarboro, N.C., arrived in June.
“Keith being here in the spring is a big plus because he already has the system and the verbiage in his mind and he’s able to understand what they’re doing out here in the summer because he’s already been in the meeting room with Coach [Bryan] McClendon,” Bobo said. “Todd’s obviously going to be behind, but I’ve seen him over here a lot studying this summer. Both of them know the opportunity they have and they came here to play and get on the field and they’ll be given that chance.”
Grantham mum on suspensions
Georgia knows it will be without starting cornerback Sanders Commings for the first two games of the season due to a domestic violence arrest in January and acknowledges that cornerback Branden Smith will be facing discipline due to a misdemeanor marijuana arrest. But no one from the athletic association has confirmed multiple reports that All-America safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree will miss multiple games for alleged positive drug tests this past spring. Grantham did not shed any more light on the situation on Friday.
“You have the media guide right there,” Grantham said with a grin. “Right now they’re all available.”
Pressed a short time later, Grantham said: “We’ll be ready to play with the guys that strap it up and wear the ‘G.’”
THIS & THAT: UGA finally confirmed that sophomore defensive back Quintavious “Cootie” Harrow has “left the team.” Sources familiar with the situation indicate his departure was academically related and occurred before Crowell was dismissed. Harrow was Crowell’s best friend and teammate at Carver-Columbus High and was a passenger in Crowell’s car when it was pulled over by police on June 29. . . .
Bobo said incoming freshman outside linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons will be given a look at wide receiver during preseason camp. “Right now he’s going to start out on defense,” Bobo said. “But there will be some plan throughout the 28, 29 practices to give him some opportunities over there. We’re thin at receiver and they’re thin at the back end and a little at linebacker, so both sides would like to use him. We just need to see where he best fits the team. But I told him it’s up to you, if you make plays in practice they’ll be an opportunity to play in games.”
The tug-of-war between Bobo and Grantham continues for the services of Malcolm Mitchell, who will open camp at cornerback after starring as a wide receiver as a freshman. Bobo joked that Grantham was “trying to steal” Mitchell. Grantham responded Friday by saying Bobo “should be upset; I’d be upset, too.”