By Ryan Black
Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATHENS — If Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson thought his comments about Georgia or the SEC would bait the Bulldogs into a war of words, he was sadly mistaken.
In fact, Georgia defensive end Abry Jones wasn’t even aware the comments were made by a player until the media informed him Monday evening. Jones initially “thought it was fans posting stuff,” and didn’t have a reaction to Richardson saying he turned off the Buffalo/Georgia game Saturday because “it’s like watching Big Ten football, it’s old man football.”
Jones was more interested in learning what “old man football” entailed.
“We play our football,” he said. “I don’t know what you’d classify as ‘old man football.’ This is college. I don’t know many people over the age of 23 playing football in college, so I don’t know what ‘old man football’ is.”
At Missouri on Monday, Richardson was held out of media day, with team spokesman Chad Moller saying that Richardson “earned himself a vacation.”
Coach Gary Pinkel said “I think he just got carried away a little bit, but I handled that internally.”
Wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley laughed at the characterization of his team playing a geriatric brand of football. He was more surprised that Richardson took a shot at another conference.
“He said it was like Big Ten football, and I was like, ‘Wow, he took a shot at the Big Ten,’” Scott-Wesley said. “[But] football is football. You can’t get caught up in all the hype. Any team can win any day. We’ve just got to go out and play ball.”
Other players said placing too much emphasis on Richardson’s sound bite takes away from the things the Bulldogs have to accomplish if they want to beat the Tigers on Saturday.
Rush defense, for one. If Georgia is to put a damper on Missouri’s SEC debut, slowing the Tigers’ dual-threat quarterback James Franklin is imperative. After allowing Buffalo signal-caller Alex Zordich to gain 89 yards on 14 carries Saturday, Jones acknowledged the miscues the Bulldogs committed against the Bulls.
“It’s not something we wanted to happen, but seeing the simple mistakes we made, we kind of presented an opportunity for him to do that,” Jones said of Zordich’s rushing success.
When pressed to define what he meant by the “opportunities” the Bulldogs gave Zordich, Jones replied, “Not rushing in the proper rushing lanes, and then he had an opening to step up, and then he had space to run.”
The problems Franklin presents aside, Jones knew his fair share about Missouri, rattling off Tigers of recent vintage — quarterback Chase Daniel, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, among others.
Jones relishes being able to welcome Missouri to the SEC.
“I think us playing Missouri doesn’t really take away any of the excitement,” he said. “I think it adds a little bit more, seeing that it’s their first year in the SEC. … It’s a different team, but I think the same atmosphere, the same excitement is still in it.”
Running back Ken Malcome’s left hand was bandaged, but he practiced without limitations Monday. He said he expected to play Saturday. …. Wide receiver Marlon Brown (hamstring), cornerback Malcolm Mitchell (ankle sprain) and running back Richard Samuel (hip contusion) were all limited but practiced. … Those listed as “out” for practice included offensive linemen Watts Dantzler and John Theus with ankle sprains.