ATHENS – At this point, Georgia’s Mark Richt is starting to sound a bit like a broken record. The Bulldogs’ coach keeps getting asked about the availability of defensive stars Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo, and he keeps refusing to say.
Asked Tuesday if their presence atop the depth chart at their respective positions meant they might play against Missouri on Saturday, Richt said with a wide grin, “I would say I’ll let y’all know when the time comes.”
Both players missed this past Saturday’s opener against Buffalo. Afterward, Richt admitted for the first time they were out due to disciplinary suspensions. He wouldn’t say for how long, however.
Rambo’s high school coach, Alan Ingram of Seminole County High School, said back in March that Rambo and Ogletree had each flunked UGA-issued drug tests and were suspended for the first four games per the athletic association’s marijuana-use policy. Neither Richt nor anyone from Georgia has ever confirmed that report.
Richt was asked Tuesday if he was simply looking for a competitive advantage.
“I don’t know,” Richt said. “I would just as soon not give them all of our business. If there is some uncertainty at all then just like any kind of personnel on either side of the ball, if we weren’t sure about if this guy were playing or that guy is playing it’s just one more thing game day that you have to make certain that your players understand who’s in the game. It could be helpful.”
In the past, Georgia has announced its suspensions ahead of time and still does so in the case of player arrests. Cornerback Sanders Commings (domestic battery) and linebacker Chase Vasser (DUI) were each suspended two games because they broke the law. But Richt was forthcoming only after knowledge of their arrest became public.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is glad the Bulldogs are being deceptive about the players’ availability.
“Here’s what I think: I don’t know why you’d tell anybody because it’s not illegal,” said Grantham, who spent 11 years as an NFL coach before joining the Bulldogs in 2010. “Unless everybody is going to disclose all their information, why would talk about your team in that regard? To me you don’t talk about things like that.”
In the NFL injuries and suspensions had to be disclosed by a certain date each week. There is no such rule in the SEC or in college football.
“If everybody’s not going to talk about it and be on the same page, then I don’t think we should say anything, in my opinion, injuries or anything,” Grantham said. “Until it’s a league rule and you have to say something, until everybody plays on the same page, you do the least that you can.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said the uncertainty is not complicating his team’s preparations.
“You prepare for the scheme,” Pinkel said. “Obviously I don’t know if they are going to be back or not. We can’t worry about that, we have to enough things to be concerned about that we have control over. If they play, they play. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Here’s Richt on a few other things from Tuesday’s weekly news conference:
On whether cornerback Malcolm Mitchell (sprained ankle) will play . . .
“We’re not sure. . . . We’re hoping; we’re hoping. He did not practice [Monday].”
On whether freshman Todd Gurley would start at tailback this week . . .
“We usually don’t decide until Thursday how we’re going to decide who starts. We’ll have a guess-timate by about Thursday after practice, but I would think you’ll see more of the same as far as the guys who got carries. You’ll probably see the same guys getting carries, but it’s just a matter of how many.”
On importance of Saturday’s game . . .
“We don’t want to start out behind. You never want to start out behind the eight ball and getting into a chase mode right off the bat. I don’t think anyone wants to be sitting there at the first game in league play relying on people to help us get to the SEC Championship game. It’s huge. All SEC games do count so much, and the first one especially is big. If you win it, it hopefully creates momentum for you and gives you a chance to continue to control your own destiny in the race to Atlanta. I’m sure everybody is thinking the same way.”
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