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August 4, 2008
Georgia coach Mark Richt didn't waste any time during Monday morning's preseason press conference with the media as he quickly addressed last weekend's incidents that resulted in the indefinite suspensions of long snapper Jeff Henson and backup safety Donavon Baldwin.
In fact, most of the 40-minute meeting with reporters dealt with the news, including word that linebacker Darius Dewberry has been suspended for two games for destroying some property at St. Mary's hospital in Athens.
Dewberry was with Baldwin and freshman Marcus Dowtin, who were treated at St. Mary's hospital for the injuries they suffered after the pair were allegedly hit in the back of the head with beer bottles during an altercation at The Library, a nightclub in downtown Athens.
"I know that's been a big buzz, and with good reason," Richt said. "As far as what happened at the night club, everything that I've been gathering, unless there is something that comes up different from what I've gotten, I plan on handling anything in regard to that in-house. I don't see anybody else losing any playing time."
Dewberry's suspension makes six Bulldogs who will miss at least the first game of the year, the others being Henson, Baldwin, offensive guard Clint Boling (one game), fullback Fred Munzenmaier (two games). Former Bulldog Michael Lemon was suspended and later kicked off the team following his arrest for felony battery last month.
According to Richt, Dewberry freely admitted that he was responsible for the damage at the hospital and will pay full restitution.
"I knew (Darius) was very distraught about a teammate getting hurt badly, he was very angry and he made a bad mistake as he walked home from the hospital," Richt said. "He did some things that he shouldn't have done and that was very stupid and he knows it.
"We're not trying to hide the fact that he did it. He's admitting that he did it. He's going to pay a price for it and hopefully he'll learn a life's lesson from it. That's what it's all about."
To pay for the damage, Richt that Dewberry will get a part-time job. He'll also be able to use funds from his Pell Grant, along with any stipend players receive for travel expenses for playing in a post-season bowl
As for Baldwin, Richt said the junior's prior history played a role in his suspension. Baldwin was suspended for one game for a alcohol-related offense earlier this year.
"If he had no other history and just had that happen to him, from the information I got, I doubt I would have suspended him," Richt said. "But he's got enough history with me that I'm not sure he deserves to be on the team right now. But instead of going off half-cocked because I'm mad and dismissing him from the team, I've suspended him from the team and I've taken him off the team until the dust settles and I can settle down my spirit to make a good decision."
Richt confident in Fowler
With Henson's suspension, Richt said he'll turn to senior Bo Fowler to be the Bulldogs' long snapper this fall.
"Bo snapped in the (Sugar Bowl) because Jeff was not part of that game and did an excellent job," Richt said. "He's worked extremely hard and we've got a lot of confidence."
In fact, even if it were not for Henson's issues, Richt said Fowler would likely have played. Henson did not play in the Sugar Bowl after he was arrested for DUI in November.
"Even before Jeff had his issue, Bo was going to snap for extra point and field goals and Jeff was just going to handle the punting. They knew in the spring that was going to be the case." Richt also said that freshman walk-on Ty Frix would also get a look. Frix is a 6-foot, 200-pounder from Calhoun.
Stafford in best shape of career
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has his weight down to 225 pounds from the approximately 235 he played at last fall.
"I feel great," Stafford said. "I think I'm in the best shape of my life."
Stafford joked that he hopes less weight will keep his legs fresher, but don't start looking for him to start running the football more, ala Tim Tebow.
"I might pick my spots, but no, no way," Stafford laughed. "I'm not going to change the way I play."
Allen may just return punts
Junior Asher Allen returned 28 kicks for an impressive 24.6 average last fall, but he may not do so this fall.
Instead, Allen may just return punt. He averaged 13.5 yards on four returns as a freshman in 2006.
"I doubt Asher will return both kickoffs and punts, although I'm not sure which one he's going to do," Richt said.
The Bulldogs certainly have options.
Richt said that senior speedster Ramarcus Brown would be a prime candidate to return kicks, which he did to near perfection in the Sugar Bowl when he brought back a kick 90 yards against Hawaii.
True freshmen Carlton Thomas and Richard Samuel could also get in the mix.
"Carlton will get a chance, he could be good at either one (kickoff or punt return)," Richt said. "Richard could be outstanding."
This and that
After Chris Davis, Fernando Velasco and Chester Adams were the only offensive linemen made available to reporters for interviews, that list has now grown to five. According to Associate Athletic Director Claude Felton, Chris Davis, Josh Davis, Kiante Tripp, Vince Vance and Kevin Perez will now be allowed to speak with the media. Sophomores Trinton Sturdivant and Clint Boling would have allowed if not for their recent off-the-field issues. ? Georgia will practice in the afternoon Monday through Friday before beginning two-a-day workouts Saturday morning.
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