Mark Richt announced that Georgia will be without starting defensive end Abry Jones tomorrow against Florida, and in Jones’s place, sophomore Ray Drew will get an opportunity to prove himself.
Richt said Wednesday that Drew will receive plenty of snaps against the No. 2 Gators.
“I think he is [ready],” said Richt. “He’s played some, just in a pecking order, and he hasn’t gotten many snaps.”
Drew, a highly-touted recruit from Thomasville, Ga., has seen a limited role this season behind Jones and several other talented linemen. With Jones out with an ankle injury, Drew, along with Garrison Smith, Cornelius Washington and John Jenkins, will see an increased role at defensive end.
“Honestly, I think I’m ready,” Drew said of his opportunity. “I don’t doubt myself as a player. I don’t doubt my coaching staff. I know they’ve done everything they can. I’ve done everything I can.”
Drew earned SEC freshman of the week honors last season after finishing with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss against Vanderbilt. This season, Drew has five tackles, but his last tackle came Sept. 29 against Vanderbilt.
The 6-foot-5, 284-pound Drew moved from outside linebacker to defensive end prior to this season, and he looks forward to playing in his new role against the undefeated Gators.
“For the most part, I don’t want to say that I’m nervous,” said Drew. “I’m more excited than anything. I’m ready for it. It’s been hard for me to sleep the last few nights. I’m just looking forward to the game.”
Richt added, “I’m looking forward to see what [Drew] does.”
With Georgia in a battle for the SEC East and Drew in a battle for increased playing time, the sophomore knows what is at stake Saturday in Jacksonville.
“This is what I’ve been waiting on,” said Drew. “This is why you come to school to play football—to play in big games like this. It’s time to put up or shut up. That’s the way I’m looking at it.”
Gators remind Richt of 2011 LSU
Florida enters Saturday’s matchup ranked 25th in the country in rushing, but just 114th in passing. The run-heavy offense that the Gators employ this season under second-year coach Will Muschamp is different from recent Florida teams Richt has coached against.
“There’s a little different style,” said Richt. “…The philosophy of defense, kicking and just hammering the football unless [defenses] make [them] do something different—that’s a little bit different than some of the Florida teams in the past.”
Richt said the Gators’ style of football resembles the blueprint of 2011 SEC Champion LSU, who defeated Richt’s Bulldogs 42-10 in the SEC title game.
“Defense, special teams, and pound the ball and be patient,” said Richt. “In time, be able to physically take over the game. That’s the way LSU’s been trying to do it. Alabama has been trying to do it that way. Florida is modeling their game after that as well.”
Malcome emerging as ‘four-minute’ back
When the season began, Ken Malcome was listed atop the running back depth chart. Midway through the season, with the emergence of freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, Malcome has found a specialized role in Georgia’s offense.
“We like Ken in what you call a four minute drill, when you’re trying to burn clock,” Richt said earlier this week. “Usually at that point in the game, he’s fresher than the other two.”
Malcome has received the bulk of his carries in the fourth quarter recently. With Georgia trailing South Carolina 35-0, Malcome rushed five times for 45 yards and the Bulldogs’ only touchdown. Last week at Kentucky, he had seven carries for 23 yards—all in the final quarter.
“He’s a very good downhill runner,” said Richt. “As you observe him, he’s usually always getting yards after contact. Even when nothing’s there, he seems to be pushing the pile and finishing runs, and he’s done a good job of securing the football. Those are things you want at that time of the game.”
This year’s Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame inductees include former Georgia stars David Greene and Charles Whittemore (SE, 1968-70; assist. coach 1978-90) Greene was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Bulldogs from 2001-2004. Whittemore played split end for Georgia from 1968 to 1970 and served as an assistant coach from 1978 to 1990. He is currently the Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities at Georgia. Former Florida greats John Williams (fullback, 1982-85) and Doug Dickey (quarterback, 1951-53; head coach, 1970-78) will also be inducted.
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After last season’s 24-20 victory, Georgia is looking to post consecutive wins against the Gators since the Bulldogs won three straight from 1987-89…