September 2, 2012

UGA wary of Tigers' bite



Whatever success 6th-ranked Georgia intends to have Saturday night at Missouri, slowing down the multi-faceted James Franklin will no doubt be tops on the Bulldogs' list.

Georgia has seen this act before.

When asked if Missouri's version of the spread offense with Franklin at the controls at quarterback reminded him of Auburn and Cam Newton two seasons ago, Richt agreed during Sunday night's teleconference with reporters that there are some similarities between the current Mizzou offense and the Plainsmen of 2010.

"There are some similarities, but it's similarities with how they would run the ball with the quarterback, some designed runs," Richt said. "There are some similarities there, but there's a little bit more - I don't now - more formations and maybe some more razzle-dazzle with Auburn's deal. Missouri is spreading you out, but they're not trying to trick you, they're just lining up and executing what they do."

The Bulldogs just hope the results aren't similar.

In 2010, Newton torched the Bulldogs, completing 12 of 15 passes for 148 yards while running the ball 30 times for 151.

Franklin has posted some impressive totals himself.

Last year, Franklin posted some impressive numbers as well as one of the nation's top dual-threat QBs, accounting for 3,846 yards (2,865 passing/981 rushing) in his first year as a starter.

Considering it remains unclear as to whether the Bulldogs will have suspended linebacker Alec Ogletree and free safety Bacarri Rambo back, Georgia's defense figures to have its work cut out.

Richt wasn't very forthcoming when asked by a reporter from St. Louis the status of the two.

"We'll know when the time comes," Richt said.

If Rambo doesn't play, look for former walk-on Connor Norman to start his second straight game at the spot, ahead of sophomore Corey Moore.

"Overall, Connor did a good job. I can think of one play where he missed a tackle in space, but just about every safety in American is going to miss a tackle when you've got too much face with the back, but he does a great job of getting lined up, knowing what to do and he is a sure tackler," Richt said. "When he fits up into the responsibility of doing that, then I think he's got good ball skills. We like what he's doing, we're thankful we've got him, he's playing well and we hope Corey continues to push hard for playing time but right now we think Connor's more ready to play."

The entire Georgia defense will need to be ready against the Tigers, who also feature 6-foot-6 wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Rivals.com's top player for 2012.


But that's the not the only reason.

Georgia is coming of a game where the Bulldogs didn't quite live up to last year's fifth-ranked standards, as Buffalo exploited some weaknesses the first half of Saturday's 45-23 win, before Georgia made the necessary adjustments in the game's final 30, holding the Bulls to only 100 yards.

"We made some mistakes. There were some really good things that happened but we made some mistakes and Buffalo did a nice, too. Their runner was legit," Richt said. "The QB run part was mostly off of drop-back pass situations. I don't think they had a plan to run it an awful lot with the QB, but he got a bunch of his runs off of drop back passes so we've got do a better job of staying in our gaps, keeping our rush lanes where they ought to be and keep guys contained. "

Richt had plenty to say about freshman running back Todd Gurley, who totaled 227 yards and scored three touchdowns in hi s Bulldog debut.

The Tarboro, N.C. native could in line for his first collegiate start depending on the health of Ken Malcome (left hand injury), although Richt wasn't quite ready to say Sunday.

"He didn't get a whole of opportunities for him to pass protect, but obviously he is a runner and he has impressed me, the rest of the staff and the team with how he's been doing. He pretty much played in this game the way he played in the scrimmages," Richt said. "He's got a knack for breaking tackles and he's got more speed than you think for a big man. You saw him on the kickoff return, the 55-yard touchdown run do some things that were really impressive and hopefully he will keep it up. It's early yet but he's impressed me so far."

NOTES: Richt had not spoken to team trainer Ron Courson prior to Sunday's teleconference, so he did not have an update on the status of Malcome (left hand), wide receiver Marlon Brown (strained hamstring) and cornerback Malcolm Mitchell (ankle). He did say right tackle John Theus' injured ankle did not appear to be serious.