Crowell apologizes, says fans can trust him

If Isaiah Crowell’s one-game suspension last week left Georgia fans wondering whether they can count on their star freshman tailback, he at least should win back some of them with his feelings for rival Auburn.

Crowell grew up in Columbus, which is about 35 miles away from Auburn and where there are plenty of Tigers fans, but he wasn’t one of them.

“I never liked Auburn,” Crowell said. “Point blank, I never liked them.”

Crowell and fellow tailbacks Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome were suspended for the New Mexico State game.

“I just want to say I made a mistake and it will never happen again,” Crowell said in his first public comments since the suspension. “I want to apologize to my family, friends and the Bulldog Nation.”

Reports said they failed drug tests, but Thomas would not confirm that and Crowell was stopped by an athletic department official before he could answer.

Crowell already was suspended for the first quarter against Vanderbilt for an off-field issue.

“I want to prove to the fans that they can trust me,” Crowell said. “That it won’t happen again.”

Coach Mark Richt said Crowell will start against Auburn.

“We’re expecting big things from him this week,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúI don’t think there’s any question he’s learned some things through this and there’s no doubt he will be better and stronger for it I think.”

He added: ‚ÄúI don’t think I’ve ever had a freshman navigate it without hitting a wall somewhere along the way or just shake his head and say ‘what the heck happened?’ I think all these kids are going through some tough times. I’ve got a lot of faith in Isaiah, and I think Isaiah is going to do real well for Georgia.”

Thomas, a senior, was also suspended for the season opener against Boise State.

“I just really want to apologize to just the Bulldog Nation in general,” Thomas said. “It is my second one and even after two mistakes I feel the nation is still behind us. That’s something to be thankful for and pretty much move on, you know. You make a mistake, you don’t just stay down from it. You move on, you learn, you don’t make the same mistake twice.”

Players less stressed not needing help in East

Georgia has kept an eye on South Carolina for weeks.

The Bulldogs needed the Gamecocks to stumble to have a chance to get to Atlanta, but they don’t anymore.

“We don’t have to stress so much about what they’re doing,” quarterback Aaron Murray said

That’s because Arkansas dealt the Gamecocks, 5-2 in the Southeastern Conference, their second league loss Saturday, 44-28.

Georgia, 6-1 in the SEC, will play in the conference title game if it beats Auburn Saturday and Kentucky a week later.

“We definitely feel comfortable,” tight end Orson Charles said. “We’re definitely going to be juiced up for this game because now if we lose, it’s because of us. We’re not really waiting around for South Carolina. Everything is in our hands.”

Richt said that having control in the SEC East is reason for Georgia to “heighten” its work ethic and prepare harder.

A Florida win over South Carolina Saturday in a noon game would mean Georgia could clinch by beating the Tigers in the 3:30 p.m. game.

Georgia players likely will know the result of the early game before they play.

“I don’t think you can shield anybody from information these days,” Richt said.

Dooley on Penn State scandal

While former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley was at Richt’s news conference Tuesday, the New York Times reported on its website that Penn State coach Joe Paterno’s tenure “will soon be over, perhaps within days or weeks,” in the aftermath of the sex-abuse scandal.

Dooley didn’t want to comment about the report, but said he didn’t think the scandal will tarnish Paterno.

“I don’t think that will affect his reputation,” Dooley said.

Paterno won his first national title on Jan. 1, 1983 against Dooley’s Georgia team, 27-23 in the Sugar Bowl.

The Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator then was Jerry Sandusky.

“He was a very good coach, a very well respected football coach,” Dooley said.

Sandusky was indicted Saturday on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years.

“Shocking,” Dooley said.

This and that

Receiver Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring) was running on the side Tuesday early in practice in a non-contact jersey. “I don’t know if we’ll let him go full-bore (today),” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He says he’s ready. I think it’s more precautionary because of what happened two weeks ago (when he had a setback).”…With LSU-Alabama rematch talk, Richt said offered his perspective of unbeaten Boise State, which beat Georgia 35-21 to open the season: “I think Boise State can line up against anybody in American and have a realistic shot of winning.”

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