UGA Football Notebook: Secondary forced to mix and match due to suspensions

Georgia practiced without safety Bacarri Rambo and cornerback Sanders Commings on Thursday.

The defense will probably have to get used to that since Commings is suspended two games after a domestic violence arrest and Rambo is facing a four-game suspension for his second violation of Georgia’s drug-testing policy.

Throw in a likely one-game suspension for cornerback Branden Smith after his arrest for possession of marijuana and secondary coach Scott Lakatos is forced to rely on unproven players.

Either sophomore Corey Moore or walk-on Connor Norman could start opposite Shawn Williams at safety.

“You always have to think about what would happen if,” Lakatos said. “Obviously we’re planning for the worst-case scenario, but we don’t have to deal with that at this point in time.”

Georgia will have to deal with it certainly before the season opens on Sept. 1 against Buffalo.

Commings is the only suspension that Georgia has announced. Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree also reportedly is facing a multiple-game suspension.

“Nothing’s really been finalized yet, so we’re just going about our business,” Lakatos said.

On Thursday, Commings had a class conflict on a day Georgia moved up its practice to avoid inclement weather. Rambo is working through an injury, Lakatos said.

Asked who would replace Rambo, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said: “Right now we’re just moving guys around mixing and matching and we’ll just kind of wait and see what happens with everybody. We’re trying to get a plan to get as many guys as we can on the field that know what to do. … Right now we’re just trying to teach a lot of guys different spots.”

Lakatos is viewing Georgia’s discipline issues like losing a player due to injury.

“We’ll be fine,” the usually upbeat Lakatos said. “We’ve got enough guys that know how to do more than one thing. Barring any catastrophic rash of injuries, we should be OK.”

Olivadotti on NFL bounty scandal

Second-year inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti at first didn’t want to talk about the bounty scandal involving Gregg Williams, the now suspended NFL defensive coordinator he worked under with the Washington Redskins.

“Nothing. I’m not going to touch that one,” said Olivadotti, who spent 11 seasons as a defensive assistant with the Redskins, including four with Williams.

Williams is suspended indefinitely for running a bounty system with the New Orleans Saints that paid $1,000 or more for hits to injure opposing players. He’s admitted his involvement.

Asked if the issue is being overblown, Olivadotti said: “I have an opinion on it, but I’m not going to say anything about it.”

This on a day when a profanity-filled audio of Williams instructing his New Orleans Saints’ players to target players on the San Francisco 49ers prior to a January NFL playoff game created a stir.

“I can say this: Gregg was very graphic in the way he explained things,” Olivadotti said. “I can imagine what it was. I haven’t heard it.”

Olivadotti explained his defensive philosophy as it relates to an often-violent game.

“My deal is you play the game a certain way,” Olivadotti said. “You want to play fast, you want to play physical. You want it to hurt when you tackle someone, but you never want to injure anybody. That’s how I’ve explained it. It shouldn’t feel good when you run into somebody full speed if you’re tackling people the correct way, but you never want to injure anybody. … There’s a way to do that and do that the right way and do it within the rules.”

Olivadotti said he probably hasn’t talked to Williams for several years, but may have run into him at the NFL combine.

Coaches understand transfers’ decisions

Reserve safety Marc Deas last week became the fourth defensive back to transfer since late September, joining Jakar Hamilton, Derek Owens and Jordan Love.

“Any time a guy wants to leave because he wants to better his chances of playing, you can’t blame him,” Lakatos said. “He’s the one that has to be happy with his decision.”

Defensive end Derrick Lott also transferred last week. Coaches said he wanted more playing time.

“As guys get going and they kind of see the people in front of them and how things are shaking, they start forming their opinions,” Grantham said. “Sometimes it’s early, sometimes it’s not.”

A freshman like John Atkins could get a longer look at end with Lott gone.

This and that

Grantham said that 6-foot-3 Sterling Bailey, now up to 270 pounds, will be a defensive end this fall instead of an outside linebacker. The redshirt freshman is out this spring with a foot injury. Grantham reiterated that defensive end Cornelius Washington will still get work at outside linebacker. Running backs Keith Marshall (hamstring) and Richard Samuel (undisclosed) missed their second straight practice. Brandon Harton was in street clothes. … Receiver Ranatavious Wooten, who had been limited with a pulled leg muscle, walked away with an athletic trainer early in practice. Marlon Brown also wasn’t spotted. Coach Mark Richt said practice was cut short five minutes due to a lack of receiver depth due to illness and class conflicts … Offensive guard Dallas Lee (concussion) was in a non-contact jersey. Defensive end Ray Drew was back after missing Tuesday’s practice because he was sick. … Grantham mentioned defensive end Garrison Smith, Williams and cornerback Damian Swann as players who have helped themselves this spring. … Former NFL star Hines Ward was back at his alma mater Thursday for another practice. He spent time, as you might expect, watching the receivers. … Offensive line signee John Theus also was on hand, chatting with his brother, Nathan, a Bulldogs’ long snapper. … The Bulldogs practice again Saturday when they will scrimmage.

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