The Bulldogs’ star tailback looked like he was running at another level during the open portion of practice compared to the team’s last workout on Thursday.
Even his replacements were thrilled to see him looking ready for Florida on Saturday.
“I don’t think I ever had a job, I was just filling in for him,” said freshman tailback J.J. Green. “I’m glad Todd’s back. They’re going to be keying in for him, maybe get some bigger runs for me. …He looks pretty good.”
Freshman Tray Matthews also practiced in a regular jersey Monday, meaning the Bulldogs could have back their starting free safety Saturday as well.
Matthews has been sidelined with a pulled hamstring the past three games.
“It was very relieving and it was really good to see him running back in nice strides,” reserve safety Marc Deas said. “I got to see him run around a little bit during scout work. I was a little on edge just because a hamstring, I’ve tweaked a hamstring before. I definitely know how it can be for him.”
Georgia has also missed Gurley those same three games since he was hurt against LSU on Sept. 28.
The Bulldogs’ offense also is expected to get back receiver Michael Bennett, who practiced in a non-contact jersey on Monday. He’s been out the past two games after minor knee surgery.
Center David Andrews also practiced in a regular jersey from a sprained foot that kept him out of practice last week.
Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (foot) was running on the side, leaving him questionable. Receiver Chris Conley (ankle) didn’t practice and is doubtful to play.
Wilson thought targeting call was for celebration
Georgia inside linebacker Ramik Wilson didn’t know he was getting flagged for a targeting penalty against Vanderbilt until he heard the crowd yelling while leaving the field.
“The ref was standing right next to me, he was signaling incomplete so I was jogging off the field,” Wilson said. “I saw a late flag. I thought it was a celebration penalty because everybody was jumping around. Then they told me I was ejected and all that. It was crazy.”
Wilson’s ejection was overturned by replay review on the play he broke up a pass to Jonathan Krause, but the 15-yard penalty was still marked off.
“It was frustrating,” Wilson said. “That’s why you’ve got to play all four quarters. I don’t think the game should have come down to that one play. We missed a lot of opportunities.”
Vanderbilt scored and went on to a 31-27 upset on Oct. 19
“It is what it is, we’ve got to move on and just keep preparing for Florida,” Wilson said.
If Wilson’s ejection had stood, he would have had to sit out the first half against Florida.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be there,” Wilson said. “We had a double on their best receiver, me and (Damian Swann) doubled him. I saw Sheldon (Dawson). He needed some help so I peeled off and I didn’t really know I hit him that hard until I saw the replay. I’ve just got to bring my arms the next time and none of that would have happened.”
Gators look to fix offense
Florida’s open date last week gave the Gators chance to try to fix what’s ailing its meager offense
The Gators rank 109th in the nation in total offense (336.9 yards per game), 108th in passing offense (175.4 ypg) and 101st in scoring (21.1 pg).
“I guess it’s going to be a little more simple,” quarterback Tyler Murphy said Monday. “It doesn’t seem like we’ve really changed much. We’re still using the same stuff that we’ve been successful with.”
Murphy didn’t throw a pass in practice last week while resting a sore shoulder, but was expected to on Monday. Coach Will Muschamp said Murphy had an A-C sprain.
Murphy said of going up against Georgia’s defense: “We’re just going to have to try and find ways to confuse them with shifts and motions and stuff like that.”
Freshman tailback Kelvin Taylor is likely to start against Georgia, Muschamp said.
Florida has “repped a lot of guys,” on the offensive line in practice since the loss to Missouri and narrowed down communication up front, Muschamp said.
Florida is 15-5 against Georgia when coming off an open date, but Georgia won in 2011 in the only other time both teams had the week off before the game.
“I think everybody will put in a few trick plays or they may add a new run or add a new pass concept, knowing that you’ve got a little bit of time to try to perfect that,” Richt said. “There’s not going to be a major overhaul at all I wouldn’t think by either team. I think o overall both teams are about trying to get healthy and trying to get better at what they do.”
This and that
Freshman cornerback Shaq Wiggins is looking forward to his first Florida game. He said he asked Richt Monday if it would be hot in Jacksonville. “I’ve seen it on TV and it looked sunny from the games that I watched,” Wiggins said. “I hope it’s sunny. Not too hot, not too cold.” The forecast for Saturday is for a high of 71 with a 50 percent chance of showers, according to weather.com.
Florida defensive end Ronald Powell (ankle) is still “up in the air” for Saturday, Muschamp said. Outside linebacker Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) is doubtful.
Saturday’s captains: Andrews and Chris Burnette (offense), Garrison Smith (defense) and Connor Norman (special teams).