August 27, 2011

Starters set at safety

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Head coach Mark Richt didn't go into many details, but he made one thing clear regarding who will start at safety for next week's opener against Boise State - Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams.

"He's (Commings) our No. 1 safety, along with Shawn," Richt confirmed to reporters following practice Saturday morning.

Assuming Richt follows through with his decision, the start will mark the first for Commings at safety after starting nine at cornerback for the Bulldogs last fall. Commings has been practicing at both corner and safety for the Bulldogs this preseason, but now - particularly with the season-ending ankle injury to Jakar Hamilton - it now appears safety will be his fulltime home this fall.

The decision also means that junior Bacarri Rambo - who started all 13 games for Georgia at free safety in 2010 - will come off the bench to start the year.

Richt addresses Smith injury; expects junior to play

Richt confirmed the foot injury to junior cornerback Branden Smith, but said he believes he'll be able to play against Boise State.
"We don't think it's serious, nothing that will require surgery," Richt said. "He's, I guess the old 'day to day.' That's the best way to describe it."

When asked if he expects Smith to play against Boise State, Richt replied "I do, yes."

If for whatever reason Smith cannot go, Richt said that true freshman Damian Swann would start opposite senior Brandon Boykin, who will also handle the punt return duties.

Richt also confirmed that Swann and Malcolm Mitchell have been getting their opportunities returning punts as well.

"He's (Mitchell) very sure-handed, very athletic. I think he's a confident guy and you need those things," Richt said. "The one thing he doesn't have is the experience of it happening in a real game on national TV with the live bullets coming at him."

Richt hopes Dome trip calms some nerves

Richt said Thursday's practice at the Georgia Dome served two very specific purposes.

The first one is easy to guess.

"The reason we went to the Dome, the great majority of our players have not been to the Dome, so I wanted them to get in there and get a little taste of it," Richt said. "We would have done it maybe the day or a couple of days before but there's a Falcons game on Thursday and I think it's Georgia State on Friday and then we play Saturday, so we just weren't going to be able to get in there like the day before or two days before situation."

Another twist to the trip was the fact Richt allowed his players to wear their Nike Pro Combat uniforms. There was a reason for that as well.

"We did let them put on the uniforms and let them get that out of their system a little bit. The first time they put it on I figured they'd be primping a little bit, maybe being a little more focused on the uniform than on the game so I wanted to get that out of their system, so they could get over that," Richt said. "When we get to the stadium next week I didn't want to have to worry about them being in awe of the Dome, taking pictures or looking at the mirror at themselves with their new uniforms."

This and that

Neither Jonathan Jenkins (hamstring), Marlon Brown (ankle), Bruce Figgins (hamstring) nor running back Ken Malcome (undisclosed injury) took part in practice Saturday although neither is expected to be out for long. Richt expects Jenkins and Brown will return on Monday, but appeared a bit perplexed with Malcome's situation. "I don't know," Richt said when asked about Malcome. "He tends to have stuff after scrimmages … it's been multiple stuff." … Running back Richard Samuel did get to fully participate in practice Saturday for the first time in almost two weeks. "He's getting there," Richt said of Samuel. "I wouldn't say he's full speed but I really didn't expect him to be today." … Georgia's final full pads practice before the opener will be Monday, followed by Tuesday's in shells before wrapping up Wednesday and Thursday in shorts and helmets.

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at