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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúI feel like he is going to grow up from this in some ways and I think is going to be better for it,‚Äù coach Mark Richt said Wednesday. ‚ÄúSometimes things happen in life that will help you grow up a little bit quicker.‚Äù
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.
‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt know anything until Monday evening,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs when we knew we needed to start thinking about what‚Äôs going on.‚Äù
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.
‚ÄúPeople who make comments who don‚Äôt know probably shouldn‚Äôt quite frankly,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôd be able to prove 100 percent that they‚Äôre wrong, but I‚Äôm not going to spend the time doing that. The bottom line is we have rules and we follow them to the T. We‚Äôve got the utmost integrity in how we go about our business. That‚Äôs how we‚Äôve tried to build this program since the day I got here and we‚Äôre not going to change for any reason.‚Äù
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 ‚Äúvery remorseful,‚Äù after being suspended this time .
‚ÄúSometimes a guy will get in trouble and you have your meeting with him and you think `This guy doesn‚Äôt get it,‚Äô‚Äù Richt said. ” As a matter of fact, I think it was one of the better conversations I‚Äôve had with Isaiah since he‚Äôs been here. I left that meeting very encouraged.‚Äù
Crowell, Thomas and Malcome were pulling weighted power sleds on the sideline early in Wednesday‚Äôs practice under the watchful eye of head strength coach Joe Tereshinski.
Brandon Harton is in the lead to be Georgia‚Äôs starting tailback on Saturday, but there aren‚Äôt many candidates.
‚ÄúI think one of them knows the plays pretty good,‚Äù Richt said of the two-person competition with freshman walk-on Kyle Karempelis. ‚ÄúI think the other one is learning at a very rapid rate. I think we‚Äôll be all right. We‚Äôve just got to block a little better up front and hopefully make these guys feel as welcome and comfortable as possible.‚Äù
Harton, a fomer walk-on, has 11 carries for 34 yards this season. Karempelis hasn‚Äôt played yet. Georgia is also missing Richard Samuel after ankle surgery.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôll still have a running back, whether it‚Äôs Harton or Karempelis or whoever,‚Äù said cornerback Brandon Boykin, who has rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown this season. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not going to change our offense I‚Äôm sure. I‚Äôm pretty sure we‚Äôre going to do what we‚Äôve been doing and try to win games.‚Äù
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‚Äôt practiced as a ball-carrier this week.
Richt said he wasn‚Äôt sure if he could spell Karempelis name. He‚Äôs more concerned with his game.
‚ÄúWatching Kyle, he doesn‚Äôt look overwhelmed,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs really a good, instinctive runner. ‚Ä¶I would have to guess his mind is racing pretty hard right now and his heart pumping too.‚Äù
Why Geathers didn’t go against Gators
An SEC suspension kept nose guard Kwame Geathers from playing the first half against Florida.
The Gators‚Äô 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.
‚ÄúIt just was a space game,‚Äù defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. ‚ÄúIt wasn‚Äôt the best game suited for his skill-set. It‚Äôs nothing negative at all. I explained that to him and I think he understood it. Obviously he wanted to get in that game.‚Äù
Starting nose guard John Jenkins played about 30 snaps, Garner said.
This and that
Richt said outside linebacker Jarvis Jones ‚Äúhas been limping around a little,‚Äù with the mild MCL sprain he sustained against Florida, but has been improving. ‚ÄúMy guess is he‚Äôll play,‚Äù Richt said. ‚Ä¶Receiver Israel Troupe said he wasn‚Äôt sure why he wasn‚Äôt on the 70-man travel roster for the Florida game, but it may have been because he wasn‚Äôt completely full-go due to a quadriceps contusion.¬† ‚ÄúThat might have had an impact in it, but I really don‚Äôt know ,” he said. Troupe has not been limited this week and expects to play Saturday.