Suddenly, Georgia is starting to look like a healthy football team, especially on defense.
Coach Mark Richt confirmed after Wednesday’s practice that the Bulldogs expect to have two more defensive starters back for the Florida game Saturday.
Sophomore strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, who suffered a sprained foot against Vanderbilt on Oct. 19 and missed the rest of the game, was able to go through the entire practice Wednesday and has been cleared to play against the Gators. So has free safety Tray Matthews, who missed the past three games with a pulled hamstring.
“I think they’ll play,” Richt said. “It’s good. It’s good for the defense, and I would think it’s good for our special teams as well. (Harvey-Clemons) looked pretty good. You could tell there was a little something there, but it didn’t look bad.”
While both were designated as the starting safeties entering the season, Harvey-Clemons and Matthews have played together in only three of seven games this season.
Freshman Quincy Mauger and junior Corey Moore are scheduled to start against the Gators. How or how much Harvey-Clemons and Matthews are utilized will be “up to the defensive coaches,” Richt said.
Georgia will play without at least one defensive backup Saturday. Freshman linebacker Reggie Carter, the Bulldogs’ primary reserve at both inside positions, underwent surgery Tuesday to repair cartilage in his right knee and is expected to be out for two to three weeks, Richt said.
Meanwhile, defensive lineman Toby Johnson sprained an ankle in practice Monday and missed practice for a second consecutive day Wednesday. He’s questionable for Saturday’s game.
In the meantime, Florida found out Wednesday it will play without a fourth offensive starter. Left tackle D.J. Humphries suffered a knee sprain in practice Monday and will be out at least two weeks, according to coach Will Muschamp. Junior Trenton Brown (6-foot-8, 361 pounds) will move over from his backup spot at right tackle to fill in.
Drew on targeting: Ray Drew is doing his best to put behind him the targeting call that resulted in his ejection from the Vanderbilt game, but people just won’t let him.
“Whenever I run into someone now, that’s always the topic of conversation,” he said with a laugh.
The junior defensive end was available to talk about the call Wednesday, for the first time since that game. And while it’s clear he didn’t agree with it, Drew said he’s trying to take whatever good from it he can.
“After going back and looking at it, everybody has their opinion on it, and so do I,” he said. “Be that as it may, those are the rules. You have to respect the calls of the referees. Whether it’s right, wrong or indifferent, the call was made, and we have to move on.”
Snapper undecided: Richt said the Bulldogs still have not settled on who will handle long-snapping duties Saturday. A competition has been ongoing between Nathan Theus, who filled that role earlier in the season, and Trent Frix, who snapped a ball over the punter’s head against Vanderbilt.
“That’s not decided yet,” Richt said. “Not publicly at least. I’m kind of leaning on (assistant coach) John Lilly to make that call.”
Georgia has had four snapping-related miscues this season.
Rumph ready: Few players who have done nothing an entire season have initiated such intrigue among a fan base as has wide receiver Jonathan Rumph. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior college transfer wowed fans with two touchdown catches in the G-Day game in April, but has been sidelined since the preseason with hamstring issues.
With half of the Bulldogs’ front-line receivers out or hampered with injuries, the thought is Rumph could provide some relief. He traveled with the team to Vanderbilt, but was scratched before the game started. But there are strong indications Rumph will get some snaps Saturday.
“We are absolutely preparing him to play,” Richt said Wednesday. “Hopefully that will happen.”
He said it: “I told him, ‘let it rip.’ Give a guy a chance to make a play. If they make it, they make it; if they don’t, they don’t; we’ll line up and play the next play.” — Georgia’s offensive coordinator Mike Bobo on his advice to quarterback Aaron Murray about facing Florida’s secondary
Etc.: Richt pointed out that he helped Miami beat the Gators in 1981 when starting quarterback Jim Kelly went out with an injury. Richt was 2-for-13, but threw a 55-yard touchdown pass and the other completion set up a game-winning field goal in the 21-20 victory. … Murray was selected one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien Award, which goes to the nation’s top quarterback.