March 29, 2012

Richt dons dancing shoes

The late Fred Astaire has nothing on Georgia football coach Mark Richt, who Thursday afternoon proved he can dance pretty well, too.

That's exactly what Richt did, doing his own version of the Bulldog shuffle when asked about the alleged suspensions involving starting defensive players Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree.

In fact, Richt and Georgia officials went to the trouble of issuing a pre-press conference statement before taking his turn in front of the assembled media.

"There is a process we follow regarding team guidelines and policies," the statement read. "I cannot make any comment until that process has run its course."

But the larger-than-normal group of reporters certainly tried, including one direct question regarding whether or not any Bulldog players had indeed been suspended.

"I can't confirm anything," Richt said. "I'm just waiting for us to go through our process and when there's something to report, I'll report it to everybody."

He was then asked what those guidelines are.He wasn't ready to reveal his starting defensive lineup for the opener against Buffalo, either.
"I don't know off hand," he added. "That's why we practice and compete."

This lack of information wasn't quite what the gathered media expected.

Earlier, Georgia sent out an email to reporters stating that Richt would be available post-practice on Thursday, instead of Saturday, which was the original plan.

"Is that was decided on the front end?" Richt asked when quizzed about the change. "I just do what Claude (sports information director Claude Felton) tells me to do. I didn't know that (about the change)."

But although Richt wasn't talking, others were.

According to Rambo's high school coach Alan Ingram, he told the Atlanta Constitution that his former player accidently consumed some marijuana-laced brownies during spring break in Panama City, Fla., resulting in the positive test.

Since this is allegedly Rambo's second such offense, after being suspended for last year's opener against Boise State, he would miss the Bulldogs' first four games as per Georgia's athlete student handbook.

As for Ogletree, this is allegedly his first failed drug test, although he was suspended for the 2010 season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette due to a misdemeanor theft charge.

Ingram also hinted that as many as five other Bulldogs may be impacted as well.

"I don't like distractions. That's for sure," said Richt, who did open up a bit more when asked about some of Georgia's backups at the safety positions.

Topping the list is sophomore Corey Moore, who would figure to be the choice to replace Rambo at free safety.

"As I watch him, I see a guy who is much more confident than he was as a true freshman. He understands things a lot better," Richt said. "He's very tough and physical. He showed up strong for a high school kid, but now that he's been in the program and been with Coach T (Joe Tersehinski) and the strength staff, he is very solid, very strong, very lean and he'll strike you. I think he's going to be ready."

Sophomores Marc Deas, Quintavious Harrow and Connor Norman would also figure to see expanded roles.

"They're getting there. They're getting their reps as well. They too are a lot further along than they were when fall camp went through," Richt said. "They're all in their competing, but Corey, he looks more the part right now." Norman, Richt added, is also ready to make a contribution.

"Connor is a guy who knows our system well and can play more than one position," Richt said. "He can play both safety positions, is a very sure tackler in the open field, has got good hands and has good leadership abilities. He's definitely going to throw his hat into the ring as well."

NOTES: Sophomore Malcolm Mitchellgot some looks with the offense for the first time this spring. Anytime he was not losing a rep on defense, we tried to let Malcolm jump over there and work on offense," Richt said. "He enjoyed it, and you could tell he was a little tired. If he is going to play both ways he has to get used to being in condition for that." … Richt also singled out senior outside linebacker/defensive end Cornelius Washington. "A lot of good things are happening out there, but one guy in particular who is showing up every day is Cornelius Washington," Richt said. "He is really physical at the point and pretty dominant against the run. He's doing a good job of rushing the passer as always, so we are seeing a lot of good things from him." … Georgia will practice again on Friday, although there will be no media availability. The Bulldogs will scrimmage for the first time on Saturday.