Monday, March 12, 2012
More problems for Georgia's secondary
By Chris Low
At this rate, Georgia might be holding tryouts at cornerbacks, especially for those first couple of games in the fall.
Rising senior cornerback Branden Smith was arrested early Monday morning in Abbeville, Ala., and charged with marijuana possession. Smith was apparently on his way to Panama City, Fla., for spring break. He's the second Georgia cornerback to be arrested in the past two months. Sanders Commings was charged with domestic violence/simple battery on Jan. 21 after police accused him of striking his girlfriend during an argument in downtown Athens, Ga.
Georgia coach Mark Richt has already suspended Commings for the first two games in 2012, including the road trip to Missouri on Sept. 8.
Georgia has a policy that mandates game suspensions for such transgressions as alcohol and drug arrests. Richt said Monday he was gathering additional information before determining how Smith would be disciplined.
Commings started all 14 games at cornerback last season. Smith started seven games at cornerback in 2011 and has 17 career starts. They were projected as the Bulldogs' starting cornerbacks heading into spring practice with Brandon Boykin departing.
If Smith is indeed suspended for the Missouri game, that leaves the Bulldogs precariously thin at cornerback and means that they will have to play Malcolm Mitchell there even more than originally expected. Mitchell was the Bulldogs' top receiver last season as a true freshman, but Richt has said Mitchell will play both offense and defense next season.
On Monday, Richt said Mitchell would work almost exclusively on defense this spring.
Mitchell said last week, "I don't want to come off the field."
He may get his wish, at least early on next season.
The Georgia defensive staff has a lot of high hopes for sophomore Damian Swann, who was already going to compete with Smith for one of the starting cornerback jobs. Swann played in 11 games last season as a true freshman.
Redshirt freshman Devin Bowman would probably be next in line after Swann, and signee Sheldon Dawson will be on campus this summer. Blake Sailors also returns for his junior season after earning a scholarship last August.
The Bulldogs' depth at cornerback has been slowly dwindling over the past several months. Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders would have both been a part of the cornerback rotation next season, but they were dismissed from the team last month reportedly for their role in a theft of money.
Also, cornerback Jordan Love left the team following the bowl game, while Derek Owens left the team during the season last year.
The Missouri game the second week of the season was already going to be a tough one for the Bulldogs. But if they're as depleted as they look like they might be at cornerback, slowing down James Franklin and that Missouri offense (and doing it on the road) will be a monumental task.