Isaiah Crowell is on pace to become just the fourth Georgia running back in the last 20 years to top 1,000 yards rushing.
That’s if he doesn’t have any more off-field missteps that cost him games like the suspension that will keep him out Saturday against New Mexico State.
“I feel like he is going to grow up from this in some ways and I think is going to be better for it,” coach Mark Richt said Wednesday. “Sometimes things happen in life that will help you grow up a little bit quicker.”
Georgia announced Tuesday that Crowell and tailbacks Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome were suspended for violating team policies.
The Associated Press reported the three failed school-administered drug tests on Wednesday last week and the results were confirmed on Tuesday. It cited two people familiar with the results.
“We didn’t know anything until Monday evening,” Richt said. “That’s when we knew we needed to start thinking about what’s going on.”
There was speculation before the Florida game last Saturday that Crowell was facing a suspension.
Richt pushed back Wednesday from criticism that the suspensions were delayed until after the key SEC game.
“People who make comments who don’t know probably shouldn’t quite frankly,” Richt said. “I’d be able to prove 100 percent that they’re wrong, but I’m not going to spend the time doing that. The bottom line is we have rules and we follow them to the T. We’ve got the utmost integrity in how we go about our business. That’s how we’ve tried to build this program since the day I got here and we’re not going to change for any reason.”
Crowell, the heralded freshman from Carver High in Columbus, is fifth in the SEC with 689 rushing yards.
He was also forced to sit out the first quarter of the Vanderbilt game for undisclosed reasons.
Richt said that Crowell was “very remorseful,” after being suspended this time .
“Sometimes a guy will get in trouble and you have your meeting with him and you think `This guy doesn’t get it,’” Richt said. ” As a matter of fact, I think it was one of the better conversations I’ve had with Isaiah since he’s been here. I left that meeting very encouraged.”
Crowell, Thomas and Malcome were pulling weighted power sleds on the sideline early in Wednesday’s practice under the watchful eye of head strength coach Joe Tereshinski.
Brandon Harton is in the lead to be Georgia’s starting tailback on Saturday, but there aren’t many candidates.
“I think one of them knows the plays pretty good,” Richt said of the two-person competition with freshman walk-on Kyle Karempelis. “I think the other one is learning at a very rapid rate. I think we’ll be all right. We’ve just got to block a little better up front and hopefully make these guys feel as welcome and comfortable as possible.”
Harton, a fomer walk-on, has 11 carries for 34 yards this season. Karempelis hasn’t played yet. Georgia is also missing Richard Samuel after ankle surgery.
“We’ll still have a running back, whether it’s Harton or Karempelis or whoever,” said cornerback Brandon Boykin, who has rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown this season. “It’s not going to change our offense I’m sure. I’m pretty sure we’re going to do what we’ve been doing and try to win games.”
Georgia has not made any of the potential tailbacks available to the media this week.
That includes fullback Zander Ogletree and cornerback Nick Marshall. Cornerback Damian Swann, who has been mentioned as another possibility, said he hasn’t practiced as a ball-carrier this week.
Richt said he wasn’t sure if he could spell Karempelis name. He’s more concerned with his game.
“Watching Kyle, he doesn’t look overwhelmed,” Richt said. “He’s really a good, instinctive runner. …I would have to guess his mind is racing pretty hard right now and his heart pumping too.”
Why Geathers didn’t go against Gators
An SEC suspension kept nose guard Kwame Geathers from playing the first half against Florida.
The Gators’ offensive scheme kept the 6-6, 350-pound Geathers from playing in the second half.
Florida turned to an empty backfield. Geathers never got in the game.
“It just was a space game,” defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. “It wasn’t the best game suited for his skill-set. It’s nothing negative at all. I explained that to him and I think he understood it. Obviously he wanted to get in that game.”
Starting nose guard John Jenkins played about 30 snaps, Garner said.
This and that
Richt said outside linebacker Jarvis Jones “has been limping around a little,” with the mild MCL sprain he sustained against Florida, but has been improving. “My guess is he’ll play,” Richt said. …Receiver Israel Troupe said he wasn’t sure why he wasn’t on the 70-man travel roster for the Florida game, but it may have been because he wasn’t completely full-go due to a quadriceps contusion. “That might have had an impact in it, but I really don’t know ,” he said. Troupe has not been limited this week and expects to play Saturday.