GEORGIA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
ATHENS – Malcolm Mitchell said he has no idea what he’s going to do on Saturday or how much of it.
“Maybe they’ll let me know at 3:29 on Saturday,” joked Mitchell, referring to No. 5 Georgia’s 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Tennessee at Sanford Stadium.
As of Wednesday, Mitchell was listed as the starter at boundary cornerback, where he has played the last three games and practiced on Wednesday. But Mitchell spent the whole day Tuesday — meetings and practice time — with Georgia’s wide receiver corps.
“I don’t know. I don’t have a clue, honestly,” said Mitchell, who has played a handful of snaps at wide receiver the past two games. “It was defense [Wednesday]. But you just never know what the game plan is or what they’re scheming up until game day or the day before. So right now I’m just playing it out to see what happens.”
Adding to the mystery is the return of Georgia’s last two suspended starters on defense. Linebacker Alec Ogletree and free safety Bacarri Rambo are both expected back from four-game suspensions. That means Sanders Commings, who has filled in at free safety the past two weeks, is clear to return to boundary corner, where he started 13 of the Bulldogs’ 14 games last season.
But Georgia coach Mark Richt, as he has been from the beginning, remained vague about whom might play what.
“I don’t want to tell everybody what we’re going to do,” Richt said Wednesday. “But both those guys will play.”
Mitchell was one of Georgia’s most explosive receivers as a freshman last season with 665 yards and 4 touchdowns in just 11 games. In fact, he had a game-high 126 yards on three catches against the Vols last year. But rolling him back into the wideout rotation is a delicate matter as the Bulldogs have played well there and have demonstrated a strong rapport with quarterback Aaron Murray.
“We have to be sure we stay in synch,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
Meanwhile, the Vols are bringing to Sanford Stadium the SEC’s most prolific passing game. Led by 6-foot-6 quarterback Tyler Bray and tall and speedy wide receivers Justin Hunter and Codarrelle Patterson, Tennessee is averaging 38.2 points a game and has passed for more than 1,300 yards passing with 12 touchdowns.
“We’re going to have to disrupt routes, play man coverage some, do some different things to mix it up because we don’t want to be predictable,” Richt said. “You have to decide how to play it because certain teams may play super deep and allow underneath stuff and go tackle while others may pressure more up front.”
Bobo has said the amount of offense Mitchell plays will be determined by how well he picks up the offense again. Mitchell insists that won’t be a problem.
“It’s a lot but it hasn’t gone anywhere,” Mitchell said of his knowledge of the offensive playbook. “I was doing it every day for a year, so it’s still in my head. I was surprised myself by how much I could contain in my head.”
Abry Jones looks like a go
Defensive end Abry Jones, who missed the first two practices this week with a sprained ankle, returned Wednesday and appeared to work out without limitations. The senior from Warner Robins has started 18 games in a row and 24 overall.
Jones had to be helped off the field against Vanderbilt with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“It’s good,” Richt said of Jones’ quick turnaround. “Abry has been a very steady, reliable, consistent performer and he’s gotten consistently better as well. He’s a leader for us and has been named a captain on more than one occasion. He certainly helped us in the offseason as much as anybody.”
Tightening up special teams
Georgia is looking to tighten up its play on special teams.
Richt is looking for improvement in all areas, particularly with point-after kicks.
“You would think we could get it a little closer to the center post,” Richt said. “I’m smiling now but it could cost us. I’m trying to be patient. It’s not a good thing to have that much drama on extra points.”
Morgan said he’s been working hard to correct it this week and believes he has.
“I need to fix it,” said Morgan, who has had three makes off the left upright.We’ve worked on it a lot this week and I’ve had two perfect days. We’ve looked solid.”
As for punt returns, Mitchell remains the Bulldogs’ primary returner, but Richt said considering giving the job to Rhett McGowan if fielding issues don’t improve.
“Overall we’ve had too many bad decisions and bad communication,” he said. “It may end up being Rhett if he communicates the best and secures the ball the best and fields the ball the best. We’re trying to find an answer there.”