No. 15 Georgia (4-2, 3-1 SEC) held another practice in full pads on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for its upcoming game at Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3 SEC). Three five-minute periods of that session were made available to media members. A few quick notes:
Todd Gurley (ankle) was not practicing. Though he had been listed as “limited” to running on Monday’s post-practice injury report, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher was not present during the open portion of practice. It is unknown whether he took the field afterwards or not, though head coach Mark Richt did not sound optimistic that his star tailback would practice at all during his noon press conference. With two non-contact days under his belt already this week, Gurley’s chances of playing against the Commodores now appear slimmer.
“I wouldn’t anticipate [Gurley practicing]. I wouldn’t predict that. He’s definitely progressing, but do I think he’ll run plays today with even the scout team? I don’t know if he will,” Richt said.
Freshman safety Tray Matthews also did not practice on Tuesday, even though he too was denoted as “limited: running” on the Monday injury report. Matthews has been absent for the past two weeks with a hamstring injury that kept him off the practice field for much of fall camp. Quincy Mauger and Corey Moore have split time at free safety in his place. And rounding out the trio of injured starters, linebacker Ramik Wilson, Georgia’s leading tackler through six games, has missed his second straight practice with what has been called a knee contusion.
One player who actually did practice was receiver Jonathon Rumph. He and the other receivers worked on their cutting and route-running footwork under the direction of receivers coach Tony Ball. Rumph is physically gifted, measuring as UGA’s tallest receiver at 6-foot-5 and 208 pounds, but Richt said he was unsure just how much he would be involved in the offense this season.
“I don’t think there’s much doubt he’ll play, but he’s really not played for us yet. By the end of the week, we’ll see how comfortable he is and how comfortable we are with what he knows and if we think he can execute,” Richt said. “As a junior college guy, he’s still young with us, so we’re just not sure how many plays he’ll play, but we want to get him going.”
Georgia’s punters seemed to have a slightly different schedule on Tuesday, which may or may not have to do with the ongoing competition between starter Collin Barber and former walk-on Adam Erickson. Barber punted well during the first four games, averaging at least 46 yards per attempt, but he was much less effective last week after sustaining a concussion against Tennessee. Erickson has averaged 37.75 yards on his four punts.
“We’re competing, and maybe pre-game warm-up we’ll decide who punts. We’re not sure exactly who will punt. We might even interchange it a little bit,” Richt said.
Safety Shaquille Fluker, another JUCO transfer who has not seen the field this season, was again not at practice this week, having been listed as out with “illness” for some time now. Richt announced that the team plans to redshirt him this year so that he’ll have two full seasons of eligibility starting in 2014.
“You get to the point where you decide who you’re going with, so to speak, and he just wasn’t ready at that time,” Richt said. “I know he had some injury issues somewhere along the way, and by the time we settled on who was in there making the plays and getting the reps, he wasn’t one of them. We’re going to redshirt him.”