ATHENS — Georgia coach Mark Richt opened his news conference Tuesday by talking about the ongoing presidential election.
“I hope everybody got a chance to vote,” Richt said. “I see some stickers out there; that’s awesome. I voted a week or two ago and that was nice. Got a chance to get it done early, which was good.”
Apparently Richt didn’t share that urgency with his players. Very few of the contingent that was made available for interviews on Tuesday apparently got the chance to vote. Most of them said they wanted to but just didn’t have time.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to vote because I was registered in Atlanta but I didn’t have time with the practice schedule and school to drive down and back,” said junior defensive tackle Garrison Smith. “I looked into an absentee ballot but by the time I looked into it, it was too late to do it. I don’t know who can find the time to go back to their home and vote.”
Aaron Murray, a Tampa resident, clearly couldn’t go home. He said he filled out an absentee ballot only to realize it was too late by the time he went to send it in.
“My parents were highly disappointed because this would have been my first time to vote,” Murray said. “It’s hard. We just don’t have the time. Most of the guys don’t have the time to go home and vote I guess. If I was at home or registered in Athens I would have gone today.”
Damian Swann, Zander Ogletree, John Jenkins, Tavarres King, Rhett McGowan and Amarlo Herrera were among those who said they were unable to cast a ballot.
“I didn’t get a chance between school and practice,” Herrera said. “This would have been my first year voting and I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance.”
Murray said his roommate Dustin Royston cast his vote. And senior cornerback Sanders Commings of Augusta voted in his second presidential election via absentee ballot.
“I did my research, studied the two candidates, watched the presidential and vice presidential debates,” Commings said. “My parents got the absentee ballot way ahead of time. My parents were pushing me. I wanted to. . . . I think as a citizen it’s very important you exercise your right to vote.”
Regardless of whether they went to the polls, Tuesday’s election was the source of much discussion in the Bulldogs’ locker room.
“There is some bickering back and forth a little,” King said.
Said Commings: “Here or there have been a few (debates). They’ll last about five minutes. Nothing too serious because at the end of the day we’re here to play football and we’re teammates no matter what.”
NOTES . . .
Fullback Merritt Hall returned to practice in a limited capacity on Tuesday and appears to be on the road to being able to play on Saturday. The redshirt freshman starter from Alpharetta has been out since the first play of the Oct. 27 Florida game with an ankle injury. Regardless, junior Zander Ogletree appears to be in line to start against Auburn.
“That’s the way it’s looking right now,” Ogletree said. “But (Merritt) practiced a good little bit and he looks like he’s running better and his ankle is feeling a little better.”
After not playing in the first six games, Ogletree relieved Hall against the Gators and got his second career start this past week against Ole Miss. Coaches have lauded his play in those two games.
“It feels great just to start or make a play or anything for Georgia,” Ogletree said. “It feels awesome. Any opportunity is a blessing. I just waited my turn. I got pushed back a little bit but I wasn’t going to let it hold me back and kept fighting and let it motivate me.” . . .
Linebacker Chase Vasser did not practice again Tuesday due to a left shoulder sprain and has been downgraded to “out” this week.