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Ten@10: NCAA lauds UGA’s compliance as ‘Gurley Watch’ reaches 19th day

When Todd Gurley might dress out again for Georgia remained a question just three days before the Bulldogs are scheduled to depart for Florida. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

When Todd Gurley might dress out again for Georgia remained a question just three days before the Bulldogs are scheduled to depart for Florida. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

THE TEN AT 10:

1. Welcome to Day 19 of “the Todd Gurley Watch.” That’s how long it has been since Georgia suspended Gurley and declared him ineligible to the NCAA for allegedly taking money from memorabilia dealers to sign merchandise to be sold to collectors.

Six days ago, the Bulldogs turned over the results of their investigation to the NCAA and asked for Gurley to be reinstated. As of Monday night, UGA still had not heard back and wasn’t sure when it would.

Richt

Richt

“We don’t know yet,” coach Mark Richt said on his radio call-in show Monday night. “We’re just waiting on the NCAA to tell us what the deal is. As soon as we know we’ll let everybody know, but right now we just do not know yet.”

In what form the Bulldogs will be notified – fax, phone call, certified letter, smoke signals — nobody at UGA seems to be certain.

“We’re not quite 100 percent sure exactly how they would get up with us,” Richt said. “But Todd has representation along with the university, and I’m sure it will go through the lawyers first.”

At issue now is the Bulldogs’ preparations for Saturday’s game against Florida. They need to know whether they’ll have Gurley at their disposal as they install the game plan, which happens in earnest in Tuesday’s meetings and practice.

But Richt insists Georgia’s game plan would be the same whether Gurley or freshman Nick Chubb is the primary tailback. Gurley, a junior, has rushed for 773 yards on an average of 8.2 yards per carry with eight touchdowns. Chubb has rushed for 345 yards and three touchdowns while starting the last two games and has 569 yards and five touchdowns on the season. He averages 5.7 yards per carry.

2. Whatever is the hold-up, apparently it is NOT the Bulldogs’ handling of the situation. NCAA President Mark Emmert, in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, lauded UGA for how it has gone about its business in regard to Gurley’s situation.

“From the facts that we know today, publicly, Georgia’s behavior has been commendable,” Emmert said in an interview with the Associated Press Monday. “They, apparently, saw something that concerned them, and they dealt with it directly and their athletic department seems to have handled that very, very appropriately based on what we know today.”

The latest report on the possible return of freshman tailback Sony Michel was not promising. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The latest report on the possible return of freshman tailback Sony Michel was not promising. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

3. In the meantime, Richt does not seem as confident that tailbacks Sony Michel or Keith Marshall can help the Bulldogs if for some reason Gurley is not reinstated.

On Sunday night, Richt said Michel, who has been sidelined with a broken shoulder blade, had been moving around extremely well and just needed to be cleared by doctors to return to action. That clearance must not have come as Richt sounded more pessimistic on his call-in show Monday night.

“I don’t know if they’ll be ready this week; I would not be holding my breath on that,” Richt said. “But they are rehabbing and getting better and moving around better. I just don’t know if they’ll be quite ready for this ballgame.”

Richt did have some good news, though. He said starting fullback Taylor Maxey, who left the Arkansas game with a “stinger” in his neck, should be able to play. Freshman Christian Payne filled in admirably against the Razorbacks and will be available as well.

4. Georgia is technically the home team for Saturday’s game in Jacksonville, but the Bulldogs have agreed to let Florida wear its home jerseys. Georgia will be wearing its home uniform as well, so for the first time since the 1960s, it will be red versus blue in the Georgia-Florida game.

Traditionally, visiting teams wear white in all college football games so that the referees can easily distinguish sides as they call games. But the  NCAA signed off on Saturday’s plan because there is “enough of a contrast” in the colors for officials to call the game without a problem, Richt said.

The idea for both teams to wear home jerseys was Florida’s and the Bulldogs agreed to do it.

“To be honest, a fan suggested it,” Foley said in a Q&A with GatorZone.com back in March. “He sent me a picture of what they used to do when Coach Spurrier was playing. He had a blue jersey on and whoever was tackling him had a red jersey on. It’s a unique rivalry and just a little different something to do. There is no particular reason. Georgia agreed and we agreed. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to win the ballgame no matter what color jersey you have on. I think it’s just a little something that makes the game even more unique.”

UGA shut down the 'Free Gurley' t-shirt business with about 20 cease-and-desist orders.

UGA shut down the ‘Free Gurley’ t-shirt business with about 20 cease-and-desist orders.

5. In case you missed it, AJC part-timer Tanya Sichynsky wrote a nice piece for us on Monday explaining how the UGA student who was selling “Free Gurley” T-shirts was issued a cease-and-desist order from the athletic association, along with about 20 other opportunists who have been cashing in on the craze.

The irony, I think, is lost on no one.

6. Georgia players have won virtually every major individual award in college football, including Heisman, Lombardi and Outland trophies. But there is one that has escaped the Bulldogs’ grasp.

The Butkus, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker.

Jordan Jenkins and Ramik Wilson have a chance to break that streak this year. They were both included among the list of 15 semifinalists released on Monday.

Georgia is one of three teams to have more than one linebacker among the 15 semifinalists. UCLA (Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks) and Washington (Hau’oli Kikaha, Shaq Thompson) also had two. Alabama (Reggie Ragland) and Tennessee (A.J. Johnson) are the only other SEC teams represented.

Wilson has the most recognizable name among nationally. The 6-2, 232-pound senior from Tampa was first-team All-SEC a year ago when he led the league in tackles with 133. This year he’s second on the team behind senior Amarlo Herrera with 55 stops and also has a sack, 5.5 tackles for loss and three quarterback pressures.

Jenkins, a 6-3, 246-pound junior from Hamilton, is third on the team with 38 tackles and also had 6.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks.

7. Georgia’s basketball Bulldogs have been practicing going on three weeks now and were picked to finish fifth in the league at last week’s SEC Basketball Media Days in Charlotte.

Mann

Mann

One of the main reasons for optimism for this year’s team has to do with the return of Charles Mann to run the point. The 6-foot-5 junior from Alpharetta was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer last year (13.9 ppg), led the team in assists (2.9 pg) and was the third-leading rebounder (4.1 pg). He also went to the foul line an SEC best 277 times, making 70 percent of his free throws.

But Mann also led the Bulldogs in turnovers with 113, and that’s an area in which he’s hoping to improve dramatically in 2014-15.

“I want to get my assists numbers up and have a better assist-to-turnover ratio,” Mann said. “And I want to try to win every game when I’m out there. Just compete and have fun.”

It’s an area in which Georgia needs to improve as a team. The Bulldogs had 446 turnovers to 341 assists last year, when they finished 20-14 overall and second in the SEC at 12-6.

“Our assist-to-turnover ratio has to improve and obviously that’s an area where Charles has to get better,” coach Mark Fox said. “As aggressive as we’ve kind of let him be and had to have him be, he’s going to have a turnover or two. But that’s an area where our entire team can get better and one in which he can get better.”

8. As of Tuesday, Georgia was on the boards in Las Vegas as a two-touchdown favorite against Florida. I could not immediately track down the last time the Bulldogs have been that big of a favorite in the series — feel free to educate me if you know — but, suffice it to say, it hasn’t been often.

'Boom' believes: Will Muschamp pointed out how close the last three Georgia-Florida games have been (AP photo)

‘Boom’ believes: Will Muschamp pointed out how close the last three Georgia-Florida games have been (AP photo)

In fact, should UGA win on Saturday, it will be the first time since 1980-83 – the glorious Herschel Walker era – that it has beaten the Gators four times in a row (that ended a six-year run).

That said, the Gators are not looking at winning this game as the Mt. Everest climb people outside the program are. Georgia has also been favored in the last three contests and those have all ended as one-possession games – 24-20, 17-9 and 23-20.

“We need to play and coach better in those situations,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “We’ve had opportunities to get off the field defensively. We’ve had opportunities to go for a possible tie, and we haven’t done it. Credit their team and what they’ve been able to do but we’ve certainly had opportunities.”

Down in Gainesville, Florida fans aren’t just talking about being able to beat Georgia. They’re also figuring out how the Gators can win the East and play in the SEC championship game.

As enumerated in a recent article, Florida would need to beat Georgia, then win at Vanderbilt on Nov. 8 and home vs. South Carolina on Nov. 15 to finish 5-3 in the league; hope the Bulldogs lose one or both of their remaining games at Kentucky on Nov. 8 and home vs. Auburn on Nov. 15; hope Missouri loses three of its last four SEC games against Kentucky, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Arkansas; then, at 5-3, it would hold head-to-head tie-breakers over Georgia and Kentucky.

Gotta believe, right?

9. Former Bulldogs Joey Garber, T.J. Mitchell, Adam Mitchell, Matt McQuillan and Michael Cromie have advanced to the second stage of the Web.com Tour Q-School. Garber placed 16th at Johns Creek; T.J. Mitchell took seventh in Nebraska City, Neb.; Adam Mitchell came in 10th at Pine Mountain; McQuillan took fifth in Beaumont, Calif.; and Cromie came in 25th in Pinehurst, N.C.

The second-stage tournaments will be held Nov. 11-14 and Nov. 18-21, with the finals set for Dec. 11-16 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

10. This & that: Captains for the Florida game, as selected by Georgia’s coaches, will be quarterback Hutson Mason and center David Andrews for the offense, defensive back Damian Swann on defense, and kicker Marshall Morgan on special teams. … Georgia’s soccer team has a tall task. The Bulldogs (10-5-1, 5-4-1 SEC) have to beat No. 6 Texas A&M (14-2-2, 8-1-1) in College Station to avoid losing three in a row to end the regular season. As it stands, UGA would be the sixth seed in next week’s SEC tournament in Orange Beach, Ala.


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