October 26, 2011

Still no clear answer



Is he playing, or isn't he?

That was the question posed to Mark Richt following practice Wednesday regarding freshman wideout Malcolm Mitchell.

His answer, although not encouraging, didn't completely close the door.

"He's doubtful; I'm hopeful," Richt said. "That's my quote on him."

Mitchell did not practice for the second straight day Wednesday, after feeling tightness in his hamstring during the early part of practice Monday afternoon.

When the Bulldogs head for their team hotel in St. Augustine on Friday, Richt could not say if he would let Mitchell travel with the team.

"I don't know. We might, we might not, I don't know," said Richt. "As a matter of fact, I really don't know. We've got 69 spots decided on, there's one to go."

Still, Richt refused to completely rule the team's leading receiver out for the game.

"When I was at Florida State Chris Weinke broke his foot. We had an open date before Miami and he did not practice until Thursday of the game," Richt said. "He played and did fine. Certain injuries you take down to the wire; you just don't know for sure how they're going to respond."

Even if Mitchell does miss his second straight game, Richt said it won't necessarily keep the offense grounded.

"I think we'll be able to throw the ball well. There were games we did not have A.J. Green and we still threw the ball. We've got other guys who can run and catch," he said. "Of course, the more you have the better, but I don't think we've had a game this year where we've had all of the guys."

Crowell has a lesson to learn

Part of the growth process for every freshman running back is the learned ability to handle the punishment that comes with playing the position in the SEC.

That's a lesson Isaiah Crowell is currently trying to comprehend.

"The thing he's got to do is just get over the hump of getting that thing hit on every week, week in and week out," McClendon said. "He needs to get over the hump, so after a while, bang, it's actually helping me now instead of trying to manage things from one point to the other."

No, McClendon is not complaining.

Through seven games, Crowell has rushed 138 times for a team-best 608 yards, the fourth-best total in the SEC.

But with the SEC race on the line and conference games against Florida, Kentucky and Auburn remaining, McClendon knows the team is going will likely ask even more from the former Carver star in the weeks to come.

Crowell - who has battled a sore wrist for the past four games - said he's ready to do just that.

"Whatever I can do to help my team win, I'll do it," the freshman said.

Richt said the growing pangs Crowell is enduring are not unusual ones to have.

"Sometimes it just flat out stinks and you get hit in the backfield. That's not much fun either, but you got to get used to that," Richt said. "I think all young backs - especially high school backs - could dominate people who could hardly tackle them and they could start one way, turn around and go the other way and no one could pursue them and chase them down. It just doesn't happen anymore in their careers and they've got to learn to deal with that. I think Isaiah is learning that."

Grantham proud of Jones' progress

If Georgia were to name its mid-season MVP for defense, no doubt linebacker Jarvis Jones would get his share of consideration.

Through seven games, Jones is second on the team behind Mike Gilliard in tackles with 39, including a team-high 10 tackles for loss with a Bulldog-best four sacks.

"He is kind of a quiet guy that works hard. I think he's a complete outside linebacker, both rushing and dropping. I think he's got a high ceiling as far as where he can go," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "He's really a young player and had only played in our system for one year. I think as he gets more comfortable in the way he can play and the things he can do I think he will continue to be productive and continue to make plays that we're all proud of."

Jones was tabbed as one of 12 finalists for Butkus Award Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm really proud of his work ethic and what he's done," Grantham said of the transfer from Southern Cal. "He's been everything we hoped he would be."

This and that

Senior punter Drew Butler has been named one of the recipients of the National Football Foundation (NFF) Scholar-Athlete Awards, according to a recent announcement from the NFF and the College Hall of Fame. Each of the players honored win an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. The honorees also comprise the list of finalists for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the best scholar-athlete in the nation. Butler is the only player from the Southeastern Conference on the 16-man team.

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.