Georgia linebacker Tim Kimbrough will not play in the Bulldogs’ bowl game next week. Georgia has suspended the team’s third-leading tackler for the TaxSlayer Bowl for a violation of team rules. The extent of the violations were not disclosed. It remains to be seen if the junior will face any further discipline by new Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
“Right now it’s just this game,” Georgia interim head coach Bryan McClendon said after practice Monday, according to Athens Banner-Herald. “Kind of just how I told him, anything beyond this game is up for coach Smart.”
Kimbrough recorded 67 tackles this season for Georgia’s defense. He also had one sack and forced a fumble this season for Georgia’s typically solid defense. Kimbrough’s absence will lead to more snaps for freshman Natrez Patrick. Patrick appeared in 10 games this season, in which he recorded 18 tackles in backup duty. He recorded a season-high four tackles against Georgia Tech in the final game of the regular season, including three solo tackles.
Georgia will also be playing slightly shorthanded at running back. Backup running back Brendan Douglas will be out of action for the game against Penn State as he rehabs his wrist following surgery. The good news for Georgia is they have their top two running backs in the fold with Sony Michel and Keith Marshall ready to go.
No. 13 Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC) is going to play for the SEC Championship. Most likely. The Bulldogs put together what may be the most impressive performance of the season we have seen from Georgia, a 34-0 drubbing of No. 23 Missouri (4-2, 1-1 SEC) on the road. They did so without their best player, running back Todd Gurley, and made it look incredibly easy.
On Saturday Georgia proved there is much more to this team than Gurley, who is now indefinitely suspended while under NCAA investigation. Hutson Mason was not Aaron Murray, but he was incredibly efficient with his passing and avoided forcing plays and risking a bad play. Without Gurley, Nick Chubbs stepped in and carried the football 37 times for 143 rushing yards and a touchdown. Brendan Douglas chipped in as well as Georgia dug deep on the roster to make do. Douglas rushed for 36 yards and had a flip into the end zone. Mason had a touchdown run as well.
Georgia’s defense was awesome too. There is no other way to say it. Missouri had five turnovers in the game, including four interceptions thrown by Maty Mauk (who was also 9-of-20 for 97 yards). Missouri was held to 147 yards of offense and went 0-for-7 on third-down conversion attempts.
Georgia and Missouri have now played three times, starting when Missouri joined the SEC. So far, the road team has won each time.
Georgia’s next few games are not exactly automatic wins, but if Georgia plays the way they did Saturday afternoon in Columbia then it should be safe to assume they will be in a good position heading into a mid-November SEC finale against Auburn. Georgia travels to Arkansas next week, and that is followed by a pair of home games against Florida and Kentucky. So there is still work to be done before Georgia fans start making plans for a trip to Atlanta, but it looks as though Georgia has the best all-around team in the division at this point in the season.
Missouri will hit the road next week with a trip to Florida. Florida should have quarterback Treon Harris available to play by then. Harris was reinstated by the team on Friday but is not expected to play against LSU open Saturday. Treon Harris available to play by then. Harris was reinstated by the team on Friday but is not expected to play against LSU open Saturday. Missouri is certainly not out of the mix just yet in the SEC East. One slip by Georgia could sway the pendulum back in Missouri’s favor.
One of the biggest reasons to like Georgia’s chances in the SEC, if not just the SEC East, in 2014 lies on the health of running back Todd Gurley. The victim of a sprained ankle last season, Gurley appears to be primed for a bounce back season for the Bulldogs and he probably should be the focus of the offense early on. Head coach Mark Richt knows he has quite the talent ready to take handoffs but also realizes the importance of keeping him healthy.
“If he’s healthy, he’s gonna make great runs. I mean you’ve gotta give him the ball,” Richt said in a report recently published by The Telegraph. “We’ve done a pretty good job of throwing the ball to him. But Keith Marshall’s pretty talented, obviously. Brendan Douglas, we like what he did. We’ve got a couple highly-touted guys coming in, I wanna see what they can do.”
There is no doubting that Georgia tends to have a pretty solid running game. That should be the case again in 2014, and it should help take the pressure off the quarterback in a year of some transition under center. With breaking in a new full-time starter at the position, it should be expected the running game carries the load more in the beginning of the season. Richt is suggesting a healthy Gurley is going to be leading that charge, but they need to do so smartly.
“So are we gonna give it to (Gurley) 30 times a game and wear him to a nub, no,” Richt explained. “But there may be a game or two where he’s feeling in, and we’ve got momentum, and he’s pounding, we’re gonna let him pound. But Douglas pounds pretty good too. Keith Marshall can hit a home run at any moment. So we’ll use all those guys.”
Earlier this offseason Richt said there were no plans to redshirt Marshall, so he should be a part of the offensive gameplan as well.
Helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.