Thursday, March 29, 2012
Source: Two Georgia starters suspended
By Edward Aschoff
Georgia's defense appears to be taking two more big hits, as a source at the school confirmed to ESPN.com's DawgNation that safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree will be suspended to start the 2012 season for breaking unnamed team rules.
The news came after a report on Georgia's Scout.com site, dawgpost.com, said that the two starters could sit out two to four games to begin the season.
This also comes after two other defensive starters had run-ins that could have both sitting out the start of the 2012 season as well. Cornerback Sanders Commings will sit out the first two games after being involved in a domestic dispute in downtown Athens in February. Fellow corner Branden Smith will likely sit out at least a game after being arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge during spring break.
This would be the second time in two seasons that Rambo has had to sit out the Bulldogs' opener. He was suspended last season against Boise State for an unnamed rules violation.
While the school hasn't confirmed the suspensions, this is another huge distraction that Georgia coach Mark Richt, his staff and players have to deal with during a very important spring and offseason. Not only will the Bulldogs be struggling to find bodies to fill in the secondary this fall, but this team must go through every practice answering questions about losing so many key components to its defense. It will have to answer discipline questions. And it will have to keep its focus despite knowing it will be down men to start the year. No matter what the Bulldogs do to focus their attention elsewhere, the loss of these players will surround them.
This not the way a team challenging for back-to-back trips to the SEC championship game wanted to start the spring. The discipline of this Georgia team has been called into question before, but now it appears obvious that something isn't getting through to these players. The feeling of invincibility can only last so long, and Georgia is seeing it wear off faster and faster.
Georgia returns most of the components of a defense that ranked fifth nationally a season ago, but could have just one starter back in the secondary -- safety Shawn Williams -- to start the 2012 season. Against Buffalo in Week 1, the Bulldogs probably won't notice it much, but they'll certainly feel the loss of their starters the next week when they travel to Missouri to take on a more high-powered Tigers offense.
Georgia's secondary got a boost this spring with Malcolm Mitchell moving over from wide receiver, but even he hasn't played on defense since high school. Outside of its four normal starters, this secondary doesn't exactly scream experience, and Georgia's coaches will have to turn to youth to find replacements.
This is a team that should be a favorite in the SEC East this fall, should be ranked in the top 10 and should be in early national championship conversations. The talent and experience is there on both sides of the ball for Georgia to have a special season, but this team is struggling with character issues at the moment and it's holding the Bulldogs back. Distractions can ruin a team and Georgia is being bombarded with them right now.