By Ryan Black
Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATHENS – Piece by piece, Georgia’s defense is coming back together.
Linebacker Chase Vasser and cornerback Sanders Commings are set to come off their two-game suspensions to play against Florida Atlantic on Saturday night. And their teammates can’t wait to see them back on the field.
“I texted them right after we got back on the bus and I included all of the other guys who weren’t there and said, ‘That was for you guys,’” linebacker Christian Robinson said. “Now people are starting to come back and we’re excited. They can just jump on. They don’t have to keep worrying with some of the regret of not being there.”
Even with two key cogs on defense back in the fold, the Bulldogs still have to guard against a letdown coming off their win against the Missouri Tigers. Florida Atlantic will enter Sanford Stadium 1-1 overall, but 0-1 in conference play after dropping its Sun Belt opener against Middle Tennessee State last week 31-17.
After Arkansas was upset at home by Sun Belt representative Louisiana-Monroe 34-31 in overtime last Saturday, players are anticipating the loss figuring largely in team meetings this week.
“They’re constantly in our ears about things like that, reminding us what [underdogs] can do and where we’re actually at,” Robinson said. “After what happened with Arkansas, that is definitely going to be something Coach Richt is going to harp on. Nobody is too small. It doesn’t matter how many fans their stands hold, they still play football just like us.”
Robinson said the team’s senior leaders have already discussed the Razorbacks’ defeat, knowing the Bulldogs can’t afford a similar slip-up. Freshman running back Keith Marshall isn’t worried about Arkansas’ loss or Saturday being a “trap game.”
If the Bulldogs play to their potential, he said, everything else will take care of itself.
“We’ve just got to stay focused,” he said. “If we do that, [an upset] won’t happen.”
Jarvis Jones continues to amaze teammates
Chris Burnette isn’t surprised by anything Jarvis Jones accomplishes anymore.
He’s seen the junior linebacker doing it for years, after all. The two squared off regularly in high school, with Jones at Carver of Columbus and Burnette at Troup County.
“I remember before we played him my 12th grade year, I was kind of shaking in my boots,” he said. “It was like, ‘Man, this guy might embarrass me in front of everybody.’ He’s just one of those special players you don’t see very often.”
Jones was named Walter Camp national defensive player of the week and SEC player of the week. Against Missouri he had nine tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack and 1 interception.
Cornerback Devin Bowman was nearly at a loss of words to describe his admiration for Jones. He said Jones was the best player he had ever seen, offensively or defensively.
“When he makes a play, I’m not surprised,” he said. “He’s just really good. Some of the stuff he does is crazy.”
Robinson said the team has come to expect Jones’ greatness every game.
ESPN2 grabs Gerogia-Vandy game
The Georgia-Vanderbilt football game on Sept. 22 in Sanford Stadium will start at 7:45 p.m. and be nationally televised on ESPN2, the SEC said today.
That will be Georgia’s third consecutive night game, following last week’s at Missouri (which also was televised on ESPN2) and this week’s against Florida Atlantic in Athens (7:30 p.m. Saturday on CSS).
With Commings’ return, Bowman says his role for this week has yet to be discussed. “All I know is I’m still getting some playing time. That’s all I need to know.” Bowman started in Malcolm Mitchell’s place in Georgia’s season opener against Buffalo. … Cornelius Washington was held out of practice Monday due to a hamstring strain. Three other notable defenders practiced but were limited: Jones and cornerbacks Mitchell and Damian Swann.