Commentary

Samuel, Mitchell likely out for next game

Notebook: Richt says injuries to running back, leading receiver could continue to linger

Updated: November 1, 2011, 12:28 PM ET
By David Ching | DawgNation

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt said on his Monday call-in show that he does not expect running back Richard Samuel or leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell to play this weekend against New Mexico State.

Samuel suffered what Richt called a severe sprained ankle on the final play of last weekend's 24-20 win against Florida, having earlier scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"He definitely won't play this week, and it might be a little bit on his ankle," Richt said. "It was a pretty severe sprain."

[+] EnlargeJohnthan Banks
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesLeading receiver Malcolm Mitchell's hamstring injury has Mark Richt wondering whether he'll be ready for Auburn on Nov. 12.
Meanwhile, Richt believes Mitchell will miss his third consecutive game since injuring his hamstring while running with a 71-yard catch on Oct. 8 against Tennessee.

Georgia's coaches thought Mitchell would be able to play against Florida following an open week, but the speedy freshman's hamstring tightened up again in practice last Monday.

"We really don't think there's much of a chance of him playing this week at all, and we're hopeful now for Auburn [on Nov. 12]," Richt said of Mitchell, who still leads the team with 438 receiving yards.

Richt said outside linebacker Jarvis Jones suffered an MCL strain in his knee early in the Florida game, but team doctors determined that he could keep playing.

Jones went on to record four sacks, grabbing the SEC season lead in sacks (eight) and tackles for a loss (14).

"It was bothering him, but he wanted it to go and Ron [Courson, Georgia's director of sports medicine] felt like he was safe to go -- and he went, and he kept going and kept going and had just a phenomenal game," Richt said. "I'm just so proud of his effort and just proud of his mental and physical toughness, too."

Walsh savors win
Boca Raton, Fla., native Blair Walsh said Georgia's win last weekend against his home-state team -- the senior was 0-3 against Florida -- was the perfect remedy for his disappointment from kicking poorly against the Gators.

Walsh was 1-for-3 on field goals, muffed a directional kick and had a kickoff returned for a touchdown against Florida, but the Bulldogs still came back from a 17-3 deficit to win.

"It's a team sport. You can't be out there pouting about the fact you didn't do as well as you wanted to do," Walsh said Monday evening. "At the end of day, we won and we beat a team that we hadn't beaten in the three years since I've been here, so that's a big deal. We're 6-2, and I couldn't be happier about that. I'm not happy about my field-goal percentage, that's for sure, but it will change and I'll make it change."

Walsh said his coaches already have told him he will be the starting kicker on Saturday and that he simply needs to iron out small technical details to return to the form that made him one of the most accurate kickers in school history before this season.

He has hit only 13 of 23 field goals this year but said he appreciates Richt sticking with him through this season's slump.

"I expect him to have confidence in me to make it, and I appreciate the fact that he does, but it's his decision, honestly," Walsh said. "I'm not in control of that. I'm only in control of how I practice and how well I do, and that's about it."

Richt noted on his call-in show that Georgia has not consistently excelled in any aspect of special teams this season, but he said he doesn't think trying Brandon Bogotay on kickoffs or a new holder besides Drew Butler would create improvement.

He said the Bulldogs have made some minor improvements but will need to make more during the final few games of the season.

"We're not exceptional by any means in the kicking game, but I'm looking for us to be real solid, and we're getting closer to that," Richt said. "We know if we don't get it better soon, it could cost us a ballgame."

Bulldogs pile up awards
Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin is one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the top defensive back in college football.

Boykin is one of seven SEC players who are Thorpe semifinalists, along with South Carolina's Antonio Allen, Mississippi State's Jonathan Banks, Alabama's Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick, LSU's Morris Claiborne and Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward.

Jones and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn also earned weekly awards after their performances in last weekend's win against Florida. Jones was named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week, SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week and the College Football Performance Awards National Player of the Week. Glenn, who helped Georgia total 354 yards of offense and snap a three-game losing streak against the Gators, was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.

Drew Butler also was named Monday as one of 53 nominees for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation's top punter. Butler won the award in 2009 and was a finalist last year.

Extra points
The SEC will not announce the kickoff time for Georgia's Nov. 12 home game against Auburn until Sunday. CBS elected to wait and use its six-day option to determine which game it will televise at 3:30 p.m. ET that day. Other possibilities are the Alabama-Mississippi State game, the Tennessee-Arkansas game and Florida-South Carolina. If Georgia-Auburn does not air on CBS at 3:30, it could air at noon on CBS, at 6 ET on ESPN2 or 7:45 ET on ESPN. ... A limited number of tickets for this weekend's game against New Mexico State are available for $45 apiece. Visit georgiadogs.com or call 877-542-1231 for more information.

David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at davidchingespn@gmail.com.