Georgia and Florida will get after it Saturday in their annual rivalry game in Jacksonville at 3:30 p.m.
Georgia defensive back Sanders Commings can’t wait … until the game’s final 30 minutes.
“Personally, I’m very excited about the second half of that game,” Commings said. “It’s the first time we’ll have our whole defense without injuries. It’s the first time everybody will be able to play.”
The Bulldogs defense has been mixing and matching for the first seven games while missing key parts due to injuries and suspensions.
After halftime festivities, and barring additional injury, Georgia’s defense should have all of its pieces finally back after starting safety Shawn Williams and nose guard Kwame Geathers serve first-half suspensions imposed by the Southeastern Conference as a result of actions in the Vanderbilt game.
Williams got his for a flagrant personal foul and Geathers will sit for throwing a punch.
And Georgia’s defense adjusts again.
“It’s not the first time we’ve had to go into a game losing a starter,” nose guard John Jenkins said. “We’re just going to be ready to play.”
Safety Bacarri Rambo was suspended for the opener against Boise State for undisclosed reasons.
Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree broke a bone in his right foot in the first quarter of that game and missed the next six games.
He returns against Florida.
Georgia’s other starting inside linebacker, Christian Robinson, sustained a foot injury of his own in week two and missed the next two games.
Outside linebacker Cornelius Washington, leading the team in sacks at the time, drew an automatic two-game suspension Oct. 2 for a DUI.
He also returns this week.
“Guys have been in and out,” Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “We really haven’t played a game with the guys that we started out as our first 11, but that’s OK, too, because guys have worked hard and we’ve got a lot of mental toughness on our team, on our defense.”
Even with the revolving door this season, Georgia is sixth in the nation in total defense (272.9 yards per game), ninth in passing defense (171.0) and 18th in rushing defense (101.9).
Mike Gilliard and Amarlo Herrera emerged with Ogletree and Robinson sidelined. Gilliard now leads the team with 44 tackles and Herrera has 25.
Williams even started a game at inside linebacker
“I had great confidence in the defense as far as backups and the ones that had been out there before,” Ogletree said. “I really expected to happen what we’re getting now.”
Freshman Ray Drew took advantage of more snaps with Washington out to be named SEC co-freshman of the week after his showing against Vanderbilt. He has 2 ½ tackles for loss.
With Williams forced to miss a half, Commings shifts from cornerback again to safety, where he started against Coastal Carolina.
“It creates opportunity for other people,” Grantham said. “It’s a part of the game. You’ve just got to understand that hey, we’re a team and the guys we have available will step up. They’ve done it all year.”
Grantham said defensive coaches talked in the preseason about which players could play different positions in case of emergency. Some players learned more than one position.
Just in case.
“Moving forward, we’ll do the same thing,” Grantham said. “We’ll plug guys in and we’ll keep on moving.”