Notebook: Mark Richt finally ‘fesses up about suspensions

ATHENS — For the first time since news of their indiscretions broke back in March, Georgia coach Mark Richt on Saturday finally admitted that Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo are indeed suspended.

He’s still not saying for how long, however.

Ogletree, a star linebacker from Newnan, and the All-American safety Rambo, were among four defensive starters suspended for Saturday’s opener against Buffalo. The Bulldogs had already announced suspensions for cornerback Sanders Commings and linebacker Chase Vasser for off-season arrests.

But Richt and UGA had remained mum on Ogletree and Rambo, who reportedly failed school-administered drug tests after returning from spring break in March. Rambo’s high school coach has told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution both players are out for four games because theirs is a second offense of Georgia’s marijuana use policy.

Again, Richt wasn’t saying.

“Yes, they were suspended for this game,” Richt said. “We’ll find out what happens next week.”

Mitchell, Brown sidelined

The Bulldogs were also without two other players they thought they’d have entering the last practice of the week. Cornerback Malcolm Mitchell had to be scratched after suffering a fluke ankle injury in Thursday’s walk-through practice. Split end Marlon Brown was a game-day decision to hold out due a left hamstring strain suffered early in Wednesday’s practice. Both players are starters.

Mitchell’s loss was particularly disheartening because Georgia moved him from wide receiver to defensive back in order to shore up attrition in the secondary and get him ready for Missouri’s spread offense. Now they’re not even sure if he’ll be available next week.

“We never would have dreamed he would not have played,” Richt said. “We’re honing everything down Thursday and he ends up jumping up and coming down and landing on somebody’s foot and sprains his ankle and he’s out. Hopefully he’ll be able to practice and play this week, but I really couldn’t tell you.”

Brown was taken into the training room by sports medicine director Ron Courson early in Wednesday’s practice and flashed a thumbs-up sign when asked if he was all right. But the decision was made before Saturday’s game to hold him out.

Shortly before kickoff, Brown said, “I thought I’d be able go today,” but indicated he should be able to go next week.

Return expected for Theus

Georgia suffered two injuries on its offensive line during the game, most notably to right tackle John Theus. Theus, a 5-star signee from Jacksonville, went down with a left ankle injury four minutes into the fourth quarter and did not return.

“You never know with an ankle sprain,” Richt said. “With an offensive lineman, you have more guys who wrap it up tight and go. It’s tougher with skilled athletes.”

Right guard Chris Burnette went out with a bruised sternum at the 9:40 mark of the third quarter but returned later. He was still hurting after the game but said he “should be fine.”

Lineup shuffles

With all the absenteeism, Georgia had to shuffle its starting lineups. As expected, former walkon Connor Norman, a sophomore from Duluth, got the start at Rambo’s free safety. Sophomore Amarlo Herrera started at Ogletree’s Mo linebacker position. Redshirt freshman Devin Bowman got the nod at nickelback while Damian Swann slid over to play the boundary corner normally held down by Commings and Mitchell.

Offensively, Michael Bennett started split end where Brown would have been. Sophomore Merritt Hall got his first career start at fullback .

“Whoever’s out there has to play good enough to win is really what it comes down to,” Richt said. “That’s the way football is.”

In all, Georgia had five first-time starters in the game: center David Andrews, Hall, Theus,  Norman, Bowman and Morgan.

Game Ball Relay

The game ball for Saturday’s game made a grand entrance into Sanford Stadium.

It came from underneath the Sanford Drive overpass in the arms of former head coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, was handed off at the hedges to Olympic gold medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt, who delivered it to UGA halfback legend Charley Trippi, who handed it to Georgia baseball player Chance Veazey at midfield. Veazey was paralyzed from the waist down in a scooter accident a few years ago and was treated at the Shepherd Center.

The ball delivery was part of the Game Ball Relay, an Olympic torch-style relay from Atlanta to Athens to that benefited Atlanta’s Shepherd Center. It started in Atlanta on Friday with members of Georgia’s 1980 national championship team getting the first carries, then handing off to members of the Army ROTC to make overnight trek to Athens.

No sellout for Sanford

Attendance at Sanford Stadium was announced as 92,446. That’s 300 below a sellout, which is exactly the number of tickets the Bulldogs said they would have on sale Saturday morning. Capacity is 92,746, so that makes it the first home opener Georgia did not to sell out since 1998.

Special teams update

Georgia was pretty rotten on special teams last year, finishing 116th nationally in punt coverage, 88th in kickoff return coverage, 79th in net punting and 65th in kickoff return average. It was a little better on Saturday.

The Bulldogs had two huge special teams plays, a 100-yard kickoff return by freshman Todd Gurley and a blocked punt by sophomore Chris Conley.

Outside of that they were pretty average. Freshman kicker Marshall Morgan was 1-of-2 on field goals and 6-of-6 on PATS and did a good job on kickoffs. The Bulldogs alternated freshman punter Collin Barber with sophomore walkon Adam Erickson averaged 38.4 yards on five punts.

“I think our special teams was the difference,” Richt said. “. . . If it weren’t for that we’re losing the game at halftime.”

Georgia was somewhat better on kick coverage. Buffalo averaged 21 yards on two kickoff returns but went for 33 yards on its only punt return.

Etc… .

The Bulldogs played 13 true freshmen on Saturday, the most under Richt. . . . . Conley’s block punt was the 20th by the Bulldogs since Richt became coach in 2001. . . . Aaron Murray’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King was the 60th of his career. Murray now has 62 overall. King finished with 6 catches for 117 yards and now has 13 career TDs. . . . Georgia paid Buffalo $975,000 to play. It will pay a school-record $1 million to Florida Atlantic, its Sept. 15 opponent.

THE AJC’S COMPLETE COVERAGE OF SATURDAY’S GAME

Game story: Gurley’s dynamic debut overshadows lackluster game

Jeff Schultz column: Has Georgia duped us again, or was this performance just a hiccup?

Sidebar: Shaky start for Georgia’s vaunted defense

Photos: 14 views of the game

Video: Chip Towers recaps the game

Notebook:  Updates on suspensions and injuries

Quotes: What both sides had to say after the game

123 comments Add your comment

boots

September 1st, 2012
8:08 pm

Stupid suspensions. Our players poor behavior puts the team and their teammates in bad positions.

Dedoh

September 1st, 2012
8:10 pm

Good win, but still got work to do.

BigD

September 1st, 2012
8:17 pm

Ugly game. Better get those suspended/idiot guy back, or UGA will be 1-1 after next week.

Taco Meat

September 1st, 2012
8:19 pm

Wasn’t pretty but we’ll take it. Go Dawgs!

I dropped my fried twinkie

September 1st, 2012
8:29 pm

Thank God you don’t have to play So Carolina next week.

Paddy

September 1st, 2012
8:29 pm

I am glad we won. It has been a long off season Lets settle back and enjoy some football The suspensions, for however long, are what they are!

I dropped my fried twinkie

September 1st, 2012
8:33 pm

Rambo has to be 4 games right?

AugustaDawg

September 1st, 2012
8:35 pm

The way USCe  looked they would be easier than mizzous offense which is rolling. We need Rambo and ogletree.

AugustaDawg

September 1st, 2012
8:37 pm

Let gurley and Marshall control the clock against mizzou. Gurley is a beast!!!. Hope the suspensions won’t send the season down the  where tech is going to be

Dawg Tired

September 1st, 2012
8:54 pm

Gurley is obviously the best back on the team. Translation: he will not start.

BLOOD TYPE: RED & BLACK

September 1st, 2012
8:56 pm

So MM hurt himself jumping up and down and landing on someone’s foot. Are you freaking kidding me?! Were they practicing their victory dance or something. THE STUPIDITY OF THIS TEAM IS FLAT OUT DISGUSTING! STOP ACTING LIKE IDIOTS, JUMPIN’ AROUND, LIKE YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING!

UNBELIEVABLE

KINGDAWG

September 1st, 2012
8:57 pm

These guys just don’t get it…….as the saying goes….You can’t fix stupid!!

NCDawgfan

September 1st, 2012
8:59 pm

I would say kickoffs were better than “OK”. It was nice to see so many end up in the end zone. Haven’t had that in a long time!!

Dawg Tired

September 1st, 2012
9:00 pm

How many of us could have passed “a test” of any kind upon arriving back on campus after Spring Break? How stupid do you have to be to give tests at that time? The season will be sacrificed because of these suspensions. Our defense is pretty poor without Ogletree, Rambo, Mitchell, and the other starting DB (name?) suspended for two games. i realize Mitchell is hurt and not suspended, but he was moved to D because of the suspensions and now that eh is hurt, we are woefully bad in the secondary.

Mizzou will eat us alive next week. They’ll score at least 35. We are not deep enough to play without 5 starters on D.

Dawg Tired

September 1st, 2012
9:02 pm

Of course you haven’t seen that in a long time. They’ve moved kickoff up to the 35. Everybody is kicking it into the end zone. Geesh!

NCDawgfan

September 1st, 2012
9:03 pm

The bad thing is the players were told they were going to be tested!

I dropped my fried twinkie

September 1st, 2012
9:04 pm

I could have passed a teat if I were a scholarship athlete with no problem

KINGDAWG

September 1st, 2012
9:09 pm

@DawgTired

Those of us that weren’t stupid had no problem with the “test” after spring break. Pot Heads aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. Don’t you think common sense would dictate that would probably the most likely time for a “test”.

Wait, I think I just validated my own statement…if they aren’t the sharpet tools then they probably don’t have any common sense either.

TDawg

September 1st, 2012
9:12 pm

Not pretty but a win against a better than expected bunch of Bulls. Gurley, Marshall, Malcome, all of the receivers were very good. O- Line was pretty good. Murray good at times but a little rough at times too with taking sacks and missing open guys.

Defense was bad enough that it should get their attention. CTG will correct the issues and hopefully we get better pressure and coverage next week. Need to upgrade the Norman pick at safety. He was in over his head unfortunately. Good special teams guy.

Mizzou going down at their shack next week

chazzo

September 1st, 2012
9:16 pm

Yeah. UGA should probably just let their players do drugs like all the other teams.

The Dawgs will have better days. Sweep your PBR cans and chicken bones off the living room floor and go to bed.

dap01

September 1st, 2012
9:19 pm

Bobo don’t have a clue about how to run an offense. And the longer CMR lets him get away with it the more I question his ability.

The Dawgs were very unimpressive.

Bulldog Born & Bred

September 1st, 2012
9:26 pm

Am I the only one thats sick of this every year we get our hopes up and after the first game its over We need to clean house Richt is no coach Bobo is no OC and Grantham is no DC

dbc

September 1st, 2012
9:31 pm

I’ve been a dog fan for about 40 years, but it’s getting tiresome watching UGA sleepwalk through games. Tennessee looked decent. Auburn actually looks pretty good. Bama’s up by 24 over Michigan (#8) and it isn’t even the second quarter yet. We’ve heard Georgia players jaw all summer about what a special year and team this is — going for the MNC, blah, blah blah. Then the all-world talent shows up and looks lackadaisical against a cream puff like Buffalo. Is it coaching? Preparation? One thing I know — we ain’t even close to Bama. Is there ambien in the Gatorade? I’m really tired of all the off season talk, backed up by crappy, uninspired, play. And it’s like this every year. Lather, rinse, repeat. Hope it changes or this team’s dreams will be over before they even start. Really excited about Gurley, though.

WDE

September 1st, 2012
9:41 pm

@I dropped my fried twinkie I wish we were playing the game hens next week I really do.

Ed Barrett

September 1st, 2012
9:42 pm

Put them off the team for good. We have got to stop coddling these guys. Everywhere in our society we have got to toughen up. Is winning so important that we cannot do the right thing. Then it probably means something is wrong with us.

Ed Barrett

September 1st, 2012
9:42 pm

Put them off the team for good. We have got to stop coddling these guys. Everywhere in our society we have got to toughen up. Is winning so important that we cannot do the right thing. Then it probably means something is wrong with us.

Eric C.

September 1st, 2012
9:43 pm

Morgan had struggles with the 45 yd fg (set up in the middle) and the extra points…kept pushing them right. Very very frustrating on the suspensions…would have been nice to go into MO at full strength. At least MO has issues of their own with the OL. I’ll give the Dawgs a 60% chance of beating a fired up SEC newcomer on the road.

WDE

September 1st, 2012
9:43 pm

I must have watched another game I guess. Was there ever any doubt we were the better team? Was anyone ever really worried we were going to lose this game ? We have things to work on but I think Buffalo played the best game they were capable of playing and that effort was good enough to keep it within 3 touchdowns. My hat is off to them the played hard and that QB and RB are both great competitors but at the end of the day the outcome was never in doubt. This was a tune up and that is what we did work on the OL gelling and seeing what the young backs could do. All in all it was to my mind a lot better effort than USCe vs Vandy. Worst to come out of this was the injuries we can only hope none are serious. Now we watch film make adjustments during practice and get ready for Mizzou…this wasn’t perfect but it was a solid W. After listening to CMR after the game I think practice this week will be interesting to say the least.

Eric C.

September 1st, 2012
9:45 pm

Dang, let’s hope Arky upsets UA this year in Fayetteville because I don’t see UGA hanging with them based on today’s performances should UGA make it to the SECCG

satxdawg

September 1st, 2012
9:48 pm

Bulldawg fans biggest crybabies in college football ..to me this team played timid due to having bigger fish to fry next week . New faces in the secondary and injuries I rather give up 16 and win then lose anybody else off that defense .

satxdawg

September 1st, 2012
9:54 pm

Not to mention buffalo was holding all game ..those long plays and 3rd down conversions mainly came off missed holding calls ..they only started calling it in the 2nd half.

Dawg Tired

September 1st, 2012
9:54 pm

I thought SUNY scored 23 points.

I dropped my fried twinkie

September 1st, 2012
9:58 pm

So Far the Auburn v Clem&Son has been the best game to watch this weekend.

Rabid Dawg'84

September 1st, 2012
9:59 pm

Should have been moved to 5 or 6. 96 degrees, people passing out every where. I couldn’t take it, watched the 3rd on tv by concession. I have never left a game early before. Also disappointed in Your Pie. Gurley was worth the ticket. Go Dawgs!

I dropped my fried twinkie

September 1st, 2012
10:11 pm

Rabid Dawg’84 you think it was the alcohol more than the heat? I think it was the being DRUNK in the sun.

Huh?

September 1st, 2012
10:16 pm

WDE…yes apparently you did watch a different game.

Huh?

September 1st, 2012
10:20 pm

I’ve watched SC, FL, UGA and UT play this weekend, and UT looks the best after week 1.

Make all the excuses that you want, but there is no way that UGA shouldn’t have beaten Buffalo into the ground. Talk about suspensions, hurt players, the heat, lack of intensity, looking ahead to Missouri, vanilla play calling, whatever…it was Buffalo, and UGA should have beaten them 50 to nothing with the 3rd sting. I know that you don’t want to puke up all the Kool-Ade you’ve been drinking, but the UGA game was hidious.

Jefferson Davis Hogg

September 1st, 2012
10:21 pm

Enter your comments here

flo-ri-duh

September 1st, 2012
10:38 pm

That fried twinkie is a gut wrench & you should have double vision and a loss of brain cells by now. By your inioherent comments the symptoms are starting to show.

HighHopes

September 1st, 2012
10:41 pm

Why do we insist on throwing so many deep balls, especially when Murray is amped and consistently over-throwing. Perhaps some short routes to generate rhythm and confidence? Equally disappointing, the coaches seem to have little concept of controlling the game with offensive management, instead relying on the defense to control the tempo, even under brutal humid conditions. Alabama’s offensive scheme seems far more disciplined with short patterns, wheel-routes, etc. Also, they don’t appear to hold back their play-book, even with a significant lead over UM. Seems the exceptional programs aren’t as concerned with protecting play-books, as Bama is running most of the same game plan that won them a NC.

Another interesting note when watching Bama, AJ McCarron doesn’t whine when a pass is not completed. Kid seems to stay focused and readies for the next play. Murray… can throw the ball a long way, but appears to have some head issues. He did protect the ball well today, though, so hats off for that improvement.

rabid_dawg

September 1st, 2012
10:53 pm

When you have a team of 18-22 year olds…no matter how good the talent is….they still need direction and discipline. Because by doing that…you are more likely to get 100% effort. I just dont see that happening with this coaching staff. They are very streaky when it comes to getting maximum effort. Aside from the occasional thug factor….he’s a good recruiter. Just not a very good coach. He just never seems to have a firm handle on this football team like Saban…Miles or Meyer. But…if the powers that be are happy with an 8-4…9-3 or 10-2 team every year…I guess he’s our man. Some of you may not agree with me and thats fine….but if you look at Georgia’s recruiting rankings over the years versus there actual end of the season rankings…what you find will speak volumes about coach Richt being a sub par coach….given the talent he recruits.

fan

September 1st, 2012
10:55 pm

Oh, just suspensions this time…to bad there wasn’t more of an injury report to elaborate on.

Blake

September 1st, 2012
10:59 pm

Some of you people have no football IQ. We had a really simple game plan today. They kept it really vanilla to keep Mizzou guessing. Think about it, every pass play we ran was a hitch or a go route. We barely ran any play action and didn’t throw to the TEs once. Trust me, this team will be wide open next week against Mizzou and you’ll see Marshall and Gurley getting the majority of carries. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Ogletree back in the line up. By the FAU game we should have everyone back except Rambo. Dawgs will roll next week with a much better effort on D.

Stevie

September 1st, 2012
11:04 pm

The Good…. Dominating running game, lots of yards after contact. Special teams looked tight. Great ball protection, no TO’s, no really stupid penalties.
The Bad… Weak play at safety, kept leaving openings in the middle of the field, vulnerable to both run and pass. Norman kept running away from tackles. Weak pass rush, D line looked awesome one play then like cotton candy the next play.
The Ugly.. Six starters probably out for next week against Mizzou

Wild Dog`

September 1st, 2012
11:13 pm

No one is begging you to watch the dogs. much less have you bunch of self professed genius that knows nothing about footballl :D o a better job at your job and you will be a better employee.without the hate for college students athletes.

Just Asking?

September 1st, 2012
11:19 pm

Murray didn’t look as polished as i expected him to look. He overthrew his target too many times for a quarterback with his experience. I wonder if we will see H. Mason this year? Just Asking?

WDE

September 1st, 2012
11:20 pm

@Huh? Darn shame you don’t get to make the rules on a good win…newsflash all wins are good any win by over 3 TD’s is a really good win . Stick that in your pipe and smoke it..now the Bull Dog Nation will see what we have for real next week, but if we win and I think we will lets not don’t go overboard thinking we are world beaters this is after all Mizzou and frankly I think they are being over rated as badly as Buffalo was under rated.

Blake

September 1st, 2012
11:22 pm

Thank you Wild Dog! These people need to just shut up. Both game plans, offense and defense were vanilla by design. When the D had to step up and shut them down, they did. The rushing yards were overblown by Buffalo. Their RB wasn’t that impressive. He went for a 100 but half of that was on one carry and he only avg. 3 yds a carry against us. The real problem was the way their QB ran on us, but considering the fact that we were missing 5 starters and rarely blitzed him with more than 4 or 5 guys that was to be expected. The biggest improvements are always made between weeks one and two. We’ll be jacked and way more impressive against Mizzou.

7576DAWG

September 1st, 2012
11:27 pm

Blake
I agree completely, there is no way that Grantham and Richt showed Missouri what they have been working on at practice for the last month. My guess is that we blitz on every play. Gurly only ran 8 or 10 plays. I hope Bobo lets him carry at least 20 time next week. Also Murray and Bobo throw the ball deep too much. When we are going to throw a slant over the middle or dump off a screen pass I wish Richt would put in LeMay because Murray can not throw either type pass. If anybody is keeping the stats. on Murray completing screen pass at all or completing the actual pass but us losing yards on the play, I bet Murray has less than a 20% completion rate. The only pass he can complete is a long slant or straight go pattern or quick sideline pass. He will have some of those returned for touchdowns by good teams. So far looks like the same Quarterback to me. except he didn’t have a turnover and that is great news.
Even though LeMay did look lost , he had to come over to the side line after nearly every play, he looked real good executing the play. His running ability is way better than Murray. All LeMay needs is playing time so he can build his confidence.

Kenny

September 1st, 2012
11:34 pm

There were struggles all around college football today. What were you expecting with the suspensions and injuries. The biggest improvement comes between game one and two. The defense will be fine, but A Murray needs to be more consistent. Surprisingly good play from the stable of running backs. Gurley and Marshall were beasts! Yards after contact and hitting the holes like they were shot out of a cannon. I’ll take the win, ugly, but still a win. Enjoy the victory. There’s 10 more coming.