TAMPA, Fla. — Just three days before facing No. 12
Michigan State in the Outback Bowl, Georgia’s tailback competition was no closer to clearing up.
No. 18 Georgia coach Mark Richt said before the start of Friday’s practice that he had not yet determined a starter nor had he decided on what a possible rotation might look like.
“We haven’t really talked about it, but my guess is that right this minute, as far as who will play, I would think there’s a good chance at least three, maybe four, are getting in there and playing,” Richt said. “I’m not sure who is going to start yet.”
One of the tailbacks vying for playing time is Richard Samuel, who is available for the first time since suffering an ankle injury against Florida and undergoing surgery.
Richt said Samuel, who started three games this season, was limited by pain in the team’s bowl practices in Athens, but said he has since had no issues with stamina and no longer appears to be hurting.
“I don’t know what his pain issues have been, but he hasn’t shown anything to me,” Richt said. “He hasn’t been limping around or acting like it’s bothering him right now.”
GILLIARD-TYSON INJURY UPDATE: With gameday approaching, the Georgia defense still has a few uncertainties in linebacker Mike Gilliard (ankle) and defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson (ankle).
Richt said he expected Gilliard, who wore a green non-contact jersey without pads Thursday, to have a shot at playing but did not expect Tyson, who did not practice, to return in time for the bowl game.
“(Gilliard) has practiced a little bit versus scouts,” Richt said. “DeAngelo hasn’t practiced. I don’t think DeAngelo will end up playing. Mike’s got a chance.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the two were making progress.
“They’re coming along,” Grantham said. “They’re day-to-day, so we’ll just have to see what happens today and go from there.”
PREPPING FOR SPARTANS OFFENSE: Michigan State may bring something new to the Outback Bowl, but not anything Georgia’s defense hasn’t already seen flashes of before.
“I think they’re a little bit of everybody we’ve played,” Grantham said. “They’ve got a little bit of the Arkansas pass concept that we played two years ago. I think you can look at some of the others, like South Carolina, they do some of the same things. So they’re a good offense, and they’ve got good players and they’re well-coached, so we’ll have to be ready to play.”
The Spartans’ offense is led by fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has passed for 3,016 yards this season with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
“He’s got a very strong arm,” Grantham said of Cousins. “He can throw it sideline to sideline. He understands where things are coming from. He’s a veteran guy, he’s won, which is important. When you have a guy like him, he’s the leader of the offense, he does get them in the right play. I think he does a lot for them as a player.”
GLENN LOOKS BACK: At points early this year, Georgia left tackle Cordy Glenn questioned his decision to return for his senior season.
After making the transition from guard, he said he was disappointed in how he played in losses to Boise State and South Carolina.
With one game remaining in his college career, however, he’s feeling pretty good about where he has come.
“I just gradually molded myself into a better player and tackle, and I think I’m pretty good at it right now,” Glenn said.
Good enough, in fact, that ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has projected Glenn as the No. 17 pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
Glenn said he plans to take a few days off after the bowl game to relax with his family before training for the NFL combine, where he is looking forward to beginning a new challenge.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Glenn said. “But just like coming to college from high school, it’ll be another big step. I’m looking forward to it.”
JENKINS LIKELY TO RETURN: Georgia junior defensive lineman John Jenkins has gone back and forth on whether he would return or enter the NFL draft, but on Friday he confirmed what roommate Jarvis Jones told reporters a day earlier — he’s likely to return for his senior season.
“For the most part, I think I’m leaning to stay,” Jenkins said before practice Friday.
Jenkins said he wants to be part of the defense Georgia expects to return next season, which includes Jarvis Jones, a redshirt sophomore and projected first-round draft pick.
“Every good D-lineman needs someone rushing off the edge,” Jenkins said. “Every interior guy needs a guy rushing off the edge,” Jenkins said. “Me, Abry Jones, (Jarvis Jones), hopefully Cornelius (Washington), Garrison Smith, if we all come back together, I believe we can be a good bunch.”