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Blog: Richt on tailback suspensions and timing of them after the Florida game

Georgia football coach Mark Richt pushed back this afternoon on the SEC teleconference from criticism that the suspensions announced Tuesday for three tailbacks, including star Isaiah Crowell,  came after the Florida game.

There was plenty of speculation before the key SEC game in Jacksonville that Crowell was facing a suspension, but he played in the 24-20 Bulldogs win.

The suspensions of Crowell, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome for Saturday‚Äôs game against New Mexico State came three days after the Florida game. Georgia said they were suspended for violating team policies and that suspensions ‚Äúas a result of team or Athletic Association policies are immediate and occur at the next scheduled competition,” but that hasn’t stopped some from thinking otherwise.

‚ÄúPeople who make comments who don‚Äôt know probably shouldn‚Äôt quite frankly because they don‚Äôt know,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôd be able to prove 100 percent that they’re 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

ESPN reported that the three players failed a drug test given last week

This is the second suspension for Thomas and the second time Crowell has been disciplined this season. He did not play in the first quarter against Vanderbilt.

“I think Isaiah’s going to do great. I really do,” Richt said. “I saw how he has handled this mistake to this point and I really feel confident that he’s going to end up being stronger for it. I really do.”

Richt was asked about the off-field issues that the tailback position has had with six players suspended now in the last two years, including Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, who are no longer with the program,.

“Was I surprised that we came up with this situation?” Richt said. “Yeah. I’m not surprised that young men make mistakes. We all know no one’s perfect.”

Richt said that former walk-on Brandon Harton is the leading candidate to start at tailback.

“We may have to use (Brandon) Boykin a little more and (Branden) Smith a little bit more and maybe go some no-back sets,” Richt said. “We’ve got enough tight ends I think we can use some sets with a couple of tight ends and no backs. We’ll have some ways to still try to move the football.”

Richt was asked if he ever had three players suspended for a game at the same position.

“No. That’s a new one,” he said. “After 11 years, you figured you covered most everything, but there’s always something new.”

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RT @chris_starrs: UGA’s Christian Payne saw his first playing time last week against Arkansas. http://t.co/eFBPVIEFWV

10 hours ago