ATHENS — Granted, he’s not exactly an unbiased analyst. But if you ask Georgia coach Mark Richt, the nation’s best college football player is on his team.
“I can’t think of a better player than Jarvis (Jones) in the whole United States of America,” said Richt, wrapping up his weekly news conference Tuesday. “He’s the best.”
A few minutes earlier, Richt had allowed that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o “is a great player as well. They might be, like, equally great, and they are both so important to their team.” But the more he thought and talked about it, the more Richt endorsed the Georgia linebacker as The Best.
“Jarvis is a pretty dynamic player to have the pass-rush ability and the ability to drop back and make the (interception),” Richt said, “or to be the guy who stops the run two or three yards back in the backfield. Just stones somebody who is trying to block him and makes the play right there.”
Jones ranks No. 1 in the nation in tackles for loss (2.33 per game), No. 1 in forced fumbles (.83 per game) and No. 2 in sacks (1.42 per game). In last week’s victory over Florida, he had three sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles.
“His stats are really impressive, but when you watch him play it’s equally impressive,” Richt said. “I think he’s the best player in America.”
Richt alluded to his news-conference comments when he crossed paths with Jones later in the afternoon.
“He told me he spoke highly of me today,” said Jones, who has received several player of week honors. “Coach Richt … knows I’d do anything for my team that is positive. I try to stick my neck out every chance I get to make us a better bunch.”
Zander Ogletree ‘was ready’
Until last week, Georgia backup fullback Zander Ogletree had been in a game for only one play all season, that on a special-teams unit.
“I went in on punt return for one play (against Kentucky),” he said. “That was pretty cool.”
His workload increased sharply against Florida after starting fullback Merritt Hall left the game with a sprained right ankle suffered on Georgia’s first offensive play. Ogletree estimated that he played about 50 offensive snaps thereafter, although running backs coach Bryan McClendon said it was probably closer to 30 — in any case, every play in which a fullback was in the game except the first.
“My name got called,” Ogletree said, “and I was ready to go.”
He could see extensive action again Saturday against Ole Miss, considering that Hall’s injured ankle has kept him out of this week’s first two practices.
“I think his ankle is not ready yet, so hopefully I’ll still be in the mix,” Ogletree said.
Freshman fullback Quayvon Hicks, who was not available last week because of a concussion, practiced on a limited, no-contact basis Tuesday.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was asked why senior Richard Samuel wasn’t the next guy in. “Merritt, Zander and Quayvon are different type fullbacks than Richard. Richard’s more of a hybrid-type tailback/fullback. That game right there was downhill, physical and the runs we were using were where the fullback’s almost like another lineman. The fullback has to be real physical.”
Grantham’s D preparing for fast O
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham bristled at the notion that his unit might struggle to get lined up against Ole Miss. The Bulldogs substitute liberally according to down and distance on defense. The Rebels, under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, run a fast-paced, no-huddle offense that’s quicker than most every team the Bulldogs have played this season. Only Texas A&M and Tennessee have run more offensive plays than Ole Miss (573, or 71.62 per game).
“We don’t have a hard time lining up,” Grantham snapped. “We’ll be fine. They’ve got pace, but I think the SEC officials do a good job of, if they sub, we’re allowed to sub. It won’t be a problem.”
Andrews won’t miss game
Starting center David Andrews said a bruised knee suffered in the Florida game that kept him out of practice Monday will not keep him out of Saturday’s game against Ole Miss. That’s a good thing since he was named one of the Bulldogs’ four captains (Jones, Cornelius Washington and Kosta Vavlas).
“I’m just a little banged up, but I feel like I’m ready to go,” the sophomore said. “Ron (Courson) and the (training staff) have a plan for me. It’s a little frustrating for me but I’ve got to follow it and I’ll be 100 percent ready to go Saturday.”
Andrews oversaw a unit that didn’t give up any sacks and helped Todd Gurley bang out 118 yards rushing on 27 carries against the Gators. “I thought it was one of our best games considering the opponent,” Andrews said.
They said it
Noseguard John Jenkins on intensity of Florida game . . .
“It was the toughest game I’ve been involved with. I didn’t really realize how tough it was until the end of the game when I felt how banged up my body was. Sunday I was so sore. But during the game my adrenaline going so much I didn’t realize how tough and physical everything was. When the game was over it just, like, drained out of me, mentally, emotionally and physically.”
Tight end Arthur Lynch on winning last two over the Gators . . .
“I think that era of being intimidated by Florida is gone. Now it’s just like any other team.”
Richt on Ole Miss . . .
“Hugh Freeze has got them going. They’re excited. They’re winning. . . . What I see is a team that has a brand new coach that’s brought a lot of energy to the program.”
Etc. . . .
Georgia had a hard-hitting, two-and-a-half hour in full pads on Tuesday, but Richt was not real happy with what he witnessed. “I was looking for something better than what I saw,” Richt said. “I’m not sure we won the right to win today. We’ll see.” . . . Despite his success on offense the past two games, Richt said sophomore Malcolm Mitchell is “still practicing and meeting some with the defense.” Mitchell, a flanker who started four games at cornerback, hasn’t played on defense since Game 5. . . . The Rebels’ punter is Jim Broadway of Roswell. He is the son of the Georgia letterman of the same name who punted for three straight SEC champions from 1980-82. The younger Broadway is averaging 42.3 yards per punt. . . . Richt said split end Michael Bennett, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury the week of the South Carolina game, is “walking around without crutches and feels like he’s ahead of the game right now in the rehab process.”