Ten@10: Gurley’s presence at practice doesn’t signal imminent return

Georgia's Todd Gurley will continue to practice for the Bulldogs while UGA's compliance office tries to clear eligibility hurdles before Saturday's game against Arkansas. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia’s Todd Gurley will continue to practice for the Bulldogs while UGA’s compliance office tries to clear eligibility hurdles before Saturday’s game against Arkansas. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

THE TEN AT 10:

1. Just to be clear, Todd Gurley’s presence on the practice field Monday and the rest of the week does not signal his imminent return to competition. NCAA rules allow for a player who has been suspended and/or temporarily ruled ineligible for competition to participate in practices.

That said, it should not be long before Georgia forwards its findings to the NCAA and gets a ruling on the case. According to people familiar with the process, the notoriously slow NCAA works fast when there is an ongoing eligibility issue in the middle of the season. However, UGA officials told the AJC Tuesday morning that it does not expect any news regarding Gurley’s eligibility at coach Mark Richt’s regularly-scheduled, weekly press conference today at noon.

Gurley did not play against Missouri this past Saturday as UGA, in tandem with the NCAA, investigates whether his amateur status has been compromised by providing autographed merchandise for a memorabilia dealer. Gurley did not work out with the Bulldogs in their final practice last Thursday and remained in Athens as the team traveled to Columbia, Mo.

Meanwhile, Richt reported on his radio call-in show Monday night that Gurley looked good and was upbeat and positive when he participated in Monday’s light workout.

“He was just enjoying being one of the guys and being with his teammates,” Richt said.

2. Speaking of the “memorabilia dealer” at the center of the controversy ensnaring Gurley, Bryan Allen has gone underground.

The AJC has made several attempts at contacting the Villa Rica resident. According to the AJC reporter Danny Robbins, state records show that Allen had an insurance agent’s license in 2007, let it lapse and then regained it in July of this year.

Turns out he was fired this past Friday Georgia Farm Bureau insurance company this past Friday.

“As of Friday, October 10, 2014, Mr. Bryan Allen is no longer employed by Georgia Farm Bureau,” Kenny Burgamy, spokesperson Georgia Farm Bureau, said in an email to the AJC. “This is a personnel matter and Georgia Farm Bureau does not comment on personnel matters beyond dates of employment. Mr. Allen was employed in the Paulding County office of Georgia Farm Bureau for less than two months.”

Allen has obtained some high-powered legal representation. Atlanta’s Ed Garland, whose clients have included Ray Lewis and Danny Heatley, confirmed that he is Allen’s attorney. However, he declined comment about the Gurley investigation or Allen’s role in it.

Georgia tailback Nick Chubb earned SEC freshman of the week honors for his 38-carry, 143-yard performance vs. Missouri this past Saturday. (AP photo by L.G. Patterson)

Georgia tailback Nick Chubb earned SEC freshman of the week honors for his 38-carry, 143-yard performance vs. Missouri this past Saturday. (AP photo by L.G. Patterson)

3. Probably the biggest surprise about Georgia’s Nick Chubb being named the SEC freshman of the week for this past Saturday’s performance against Missouri was the fact he had to share the award.

Chubb had 143 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries in the Bulldogs’ 34-0 win over the No. 23 Tigers, was named co-freshman of the week along with LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette.

A native of Cedartown getting his first career start, Chubb tied for sixth-most carries in school history.  It was the most carries for a Bulldog since Verron Haynes carried the ball 39 times for 207 yards against Georgia Tech in 2001.

Chubb also added four catches for 31 yards (both career highs) to pace the Bulldog offense as Georgia dominated the game clock, holding the ball for 42:23.  He has 367 yards and three scores on 69 carries this year to be the team’s second-leading rusher.  Chubb also has seven catches for 62 yards and a receiving touchdown this season.

Fournette gained a career-high 140 yards and scored two touchdowns on 27 carries in LSU’s 30-27 win over Florida Saturday.

4. For Georgia, this marks the sixth time in six games it has had a player represented for one of the SEC’s weekly awards.  Gurley was named the Offensive Player of the Week twice (Clemson, Tennessee), senior inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera has been named the Defensive Player of the Week once (Clemson) and freshman tailback Sony Michel has also been named the Freshman Player of the Week (Troy) in addition to Chubb’s two honors.

5.  As impressive as was Georgia’s 34-0 win at Missouri, the Bulldogs definitely benefited from some good breaks in the game. The Bulldogs put the ball on the ground five times during the game, yet came away without committing a turnover.

“We were very fortunate not to lose any of them,” Richt said. “They had a couple of balls that were dropped or bobbled and it just landed in our hands. Some things happened to them that just went wrong. … If we lost half our fumbles, the game might’ve changed dramatically. We just got on them.”

Officially, Georgia was credited with fumbling the ball twice, but Georgia players simply recovered the loose balls. Quarterback Hutson Mason was ruled to have been in possession of the ball when he crossed the goal line on an 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. A muffed punt return by Reggie Davis – which Missouri recovered – was ruled to have been the result of “kick-catch interference.”

“That was a big break for us,” Richt said.

6. To date, Georgia’s identity has been to out-tough and out-physical its opponents and win by taking care of the football and playing disciplined defense. But in Arkansas on Saturday, the Bulldogs will encounter a mirror image of themselves.

“Very impressive,” Richt said. “They’re a big strong physical team that’s playing hard. I don’t think anybody’s trying to confuse anybody. I think it’s just a matter of let’s hook up and see who’s tougher.”

Arkansas is the only team in the SEC that’s rushing for more yards per game than Georgia (279 to 276) and the Razorbacks are actually throwing the ball a little better (181 ypg to 170). The Bulldogs have a decided edge in total defense (304 to 374) and turnover margin (plus-9 to plus-1).

But this game will come down to running the ball and the ability to stop the run. Arkansas’ Alex Collins is the league’s fourth-leading rusher at 105.7 yards per game.

“Both teams are used to seeing it in practice, no doubt,” Richt said. “I think understanding what it takes to go against that type of mindset, I think both teams will be pretty well equipped to know how to go about trying to defend it. It’s going to be a matter of wills. Games like this are a matter of someone’s will giving out before the other one’s does.”

J.J. Green proved to be a productive tailback as a Georgia freshman. But he'll remain on defense as a sophomore. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

J.J. Green proved to be a productive tailback as a Georgia freshman. But he’ll remain on defense as a sophomore. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

7. I hadn’t considered the prospect of Georgia moving defensive back J.J. Green back to offense in light of the sudden depth issues at the tailback. But apparently the Bulldogs haven’t either.

“No,” Richt said of the possibility of moving Green back to tailback. “We had Kyle Karempelis as our third (tailback) going into last week. If we’re able to gain Keith (Marshall) this week that would be great. I’m not sure if we will or not. I think Sony’s not going to be long. Maybe Florida, but we’re all thinking before the season’s over he’ll be back. … If Keith’s not ready by this week he should be ready for Florida. So we feel like we’re getting some guys back so I don’t think we need to do that.”

A.J. Turman, a redshirt freshman tailback from Orlando, remains sidelined with a foot injury that required surgery this summer and is unlikely to play this season. Moving Green back to offense would seem enticing. He was the Bulldogs’ second-leading rusher behind Gurley as a freshman last year, gaining for 384 yards on an average of 5.6 yards per carry and scoring three touchdowns.

Meanwhile, though he started against Tennessee on Sept. 27, Green’s playing time has been limited on defense. On the season he has four tackles while appearing in five of the six games.

8. With the addition of Louisiana-LaFayette to the slate, the Bulldogs moved a step closer to completing their 2016 schedule.

According to a memo of understanding obtained by The AJC, Georgia has contracted the Ragin’ Cajuns to come to Sanford Stadium to play on Nov. 19, 2016. The Bulldogs agreed to pay the Sun Belt Conference team $1.2 million for the game.

Louisiana-LaFayette now joins Nicholls State and Georgia Tech on Georgia’s 2016 non-conference dance card. In addition to the eight SEC games they will play, the Bulldogs still need one more opponent for that season.

9. How does Chris Haack, Ryder Cup captain, sound? It has a nice ring to Lance Ringler of GolfWeek.

Haack

Haack

Ringler suggested in a recent column that the beleaguered U.S. Ryder Cup should consider employing some college coaches to do the job since the traditional appointment has produced such horrific results of late. Europe won 16½ points to 11½ last month for its third straight victory and now has won eighth of the last 10.

Ringler pointed out that Haack has won two national titles at Georgia, has produced more than a dozen successful PGA Tour players and, obviously, knows a thing or two about filling out a lineup card.

Before you get too excited, Bullogs’ fans, Ringler said the same thing about Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler.

“Both possess the personality and style that would fit an international captaincy,” Ringler wrote “It’s not too much of a stretch to think coaches such as Haack and Heppler could captain a Ryder Cup squad. It’s a strategy that has worked well for USA Basketball.”

10. This & that: Georgia’s captains for Saturday’s game at Arkansas, as chosen by the Bulldogs’ coaches, are quarterback Hutson Mason, defensive lineman Mike Thornton, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, wide receiver Michael Bennett. … Wide receiver Chris Conley was named the SEC’s Community Service team on Tuesday. The senior receiver suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the Missouri game this past Saturday. But he was able to practice Monday and will play Saturday.

 


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