If Isaiah Crowell‚Äôs 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‚Äôt one of them.
‚ÄúI never liked Auburn,‚Äù Crowell said. ‚ÄúPoint blank, I never liked them.‚Äù
Crowell and fellow tailbacks Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome were suspended for the New Mexico State game.
‚ÄúI just want to say I made a mistake and it will never happen again,‚Äù Crowell said in his first public comments since the suspension. ‚ÄúI want to apologize to my family, friends and the Bulldog Nation.‚Äù
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.
‚ÄúI want to prove to the fans that they can trust me,‚Äù Crowell said. ‚ÄúThat it won‚Äôt happen again.‚Äù
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.
‚ÄúI just really want to apologize to just the Bulldog Nation in general,‚Äù Thomas said. ‚ÄúIt is my second one and even after two mistakes I feel the nation is still behind us. That‚Äôs something to be thankful for and pretty much move on, you know. You make a mistake, you don‚Äôt just stay down from it. You move on, you learn, you don‚Äôt make the same mistake twice.‚Äù
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‚Äôt anymore.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt have to stress so much about what they‚Äôre doing,‚Äù quarterback Aaron Murray said
That‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúWe definitely feel comfortable,‚Äù tight end Orson Charles said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre definitely going to be juiced up for this game because now if we lose, it‚Äôs because of us. We‚Äôre not really waiting around for South Carolina. Everything is in our hands.‚Äù
Richt said that having control in the SEC¬†East is reason for Georgia to ‚Äúheighten‚Äù 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.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think you can shield anybody from information these days,‚Äù Richt said.
Dooley on Penn State scandal
While former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley was at Richt‚Äôs news conference Tuesday, the New York Times reported on its website that Penn State coach Joe Paterno‚Äôs tenure ‚Äúwill soon be over, perhaps within days or weeks,‚Äù in the aftermath of the sex-abuse scandal.
Dooley didn‚Äôt want to comment about the report, but said he didn‚Äôt think the scandal will tarnish Paterno.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think that will affect his reputation,‚Äù Dooley said.
Paterno won his first national title on Jan. 1, 1983 against Dooley‚Äôs Georgia team, 27-23 in the Sugar Bowl.
The Nittany Lions‚Äô defensive coordinator then was Jerry Sandusky.
‚ÄúHe was a very good coach, a very well respected football coach,‚Äù Dooley said.
Sandusky was indicted Saturday on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years.
‚ÄúShocking,‚Äù Dooley said.
This and that
Receiver Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring) was running on the side Tuesday early in practice in a non-contact jersey. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know if we‚Äôll let him go full-bore (today),‚Äù offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. ‚ÄúHe says he‚Äôs ready. I think it‚Äôs more precautionary because of what happened two weeks ago (when he had a setback).‚Äù‚Ä¶With LSU-Alabama rematch talk, Richt said offered his perspective of unbeaten Boise State, which beat Georgia 35-21 to open the season: ‚ÄúI think Boise State can line up against anybody in American and have a realistic shot of winning.‚Äù