October 20, 2011

Key players return

Yes, there's no doubt Georgia's defense will miss not having Kwame Geathers and Shawn Williams available for the first half of next week's game against Florida.

At least there is one silver lining - both Alec Ogletree and Cornelius Washington are set to return.

"It's good to be back, I've been rehabbing for six weeks and everything is working out pretty good," said Ogletree, who hasn't played since injuring his foot in the opener against Boise State. "It's been hard for me as far as wanting to be out there and playing but at the same time, I've been trying to be a team player and support the guys while they're playing."

Washington, meanwhile, will be playing his first game since serving a two-game suspension following his DUI arrest after the game against Mississippi State.

"It's been a real humbling experience," he said. "I learned a lot. Take the experience, learn my lesson and move forward."

Both players are key to Georgia's defensive plan.

Before his suspension, Washington had begun to really establish himself at Will linebacker with two sacks against Mississippi State, while Ogletree, easily one of Georgia's more physical defenders, had already proven that his switch from safety to Moe was the right move to make.

Although no official announcement is expected until right before kickoff, it's expected that Ogletree will slide right back into the starting lineup opposite either Christian Robinson or Mike Gilliard.

Head coach Mark Richt certainly liked what he was seeing from the Newnan native before the injury occurred.

"Yeah, he was practicing extremely well. Again, he's in the position that should be making plays. Our middle linebackers make most of the tackles and he was making most of the tackles," Richt said of Ogletree. "He was doing it with some enthusiasm, some physicality and he has the ability to knock people back and he has the ability to run sideline to sideline and he has the ability to cover well. He's got all the tools, and he does love the game of football. I suspect he will play well for us."

Ogletree said he probably could have played in last week's game at Vanderbilt, but added the extra week will definitely have him at 100 percent for the game against the Gators, his first opponent since suffering the injury at the Georgia Dome.

"(The injury) was really just an over time thing. I had kind of hurt it before, although they didn't find a fracture. But it got worse and worse, and then there was a fluke play where I was just running and it just gave - popped," Ogletree said. "I actually kept playing on it, so I probably messed it up worse than what I first had done."

Of course, Ogletree wouldn't be the only middle linebacker to go down.

The following week, the Bulldogs lost Robinson to a foot injury of his own, forcing Herrera and Gilliard to step in.

The two performed quite admirably in the pair's absence, but having the position finally back at full strength is definitely a positive aspect for the defense going into the Florida game.

"If you had told us we wouldn't have (Ogletree and Robinson) we probably would have been pretty sick about that," Richt said. "Although we had a pretty a pretty comfort level with Mike Gilliard so I shouldn't say we would have been sick by any stretch ,but when you start throwing true freshmen in there you start worrying, no matter whom it is and what is the position to have to make calls and make plays. But Amarlo came in and played well."

Washington figures to slide right back into the starting lineup as well, which certainly beats the alternative of watching on TV as Georgia won its last two games.

"I'm glad that we won, and don't get me wrong, but I don't like it when we win and I can't contribute," he said. "That's been the worse part, then when they get in a bind and I know I can help, watching on TV I can see everything that's going on, I can see the situations that I can help in. That part of it was tough."

Having everybody back is certainly a plus.

Although the defense for the most part has played well, Washington said he can't wait to see the results once the Bulldogs have all their defensive starters are back in the fold.

Come the third quarter of next week's game against Florida that should well be the case.

"Just imagine if all 11 starters are on the field at the same time," Washington said. "It hasn't been that way yet, and it's definitely a confidence builder knowing that we can still get it down when everybody is not playing."