Richt is 'hopeful' that Matthews will play at Clemson

semerson@macon.comAugust 23, 2013 

UGA

Free safety Tray Matthews goes through a drill during Georgia's practice on Aug. 2, prior to being hurt.

STEVEN COLQUITT



ATHENS- Tray Matthews wasn't back at Georgia's practice Friday, but his head coach and one notable teammate are optimistic the freshman safety will return soon.

Matthews (hamstring) and junior strong safety Corey Moore (knee sprain) missed another day of practice, each having been out about a week, and Moore for longer. But junior receiver Malcolm Mitchell thinks they'll be back.

"I'm not the trainer," Mitchell said after Friday's practice. "From what I think Tray is fine, he will be fine. And I think Corey Moore will be fine."

Richt also sounded guardedly optimistic, while cautioning that the missed practice time could affect his playing time.

"We hope he's healthy enough to play. We think there'll be a good chance of that," Richt said. "But how much practice time to that, I don't know how much he will get. So it'll be hard to say what his role is gonna be."

Sophomore cornerback Devin Bowman also remains out with a hamstring strain. The team is already without Reggie Wilkerson, who finished spring as one of the top backups at cornerback, but suffered a torn ACL over the summer.

Friday's good news was junior strong safety Shaquille Fluker (illness and groin strain) was able to practice in a limited capacity.

The injuries at safety have given freshman safety Quincy Mauger increased snaps in practice, and indications are now that he will play this season, rather than redshirts. He's been getting some snaps with the first team, and even if Matthews and Moore are back, it now figures Mauger will see action off the bench.

Mitchell back on special teams (but not defense)

Mitchell said that he would be back returning punts this year, along with Damian Swann. He also said he would be returning kickoffs.

One thing Mitchell will not be doing is playing defense, even with all the injuries at cornerback. Mitchell said he hasn't discussed it with the coaches, and had not worked there at all this preseason - with one humorous exception.

"One day I played around and tried to at practice. (Receivers) coach (Tony) Ball wasn't having it," Mitchell said, grinning. "We were doing one-on-ones and I just jumped up there in front of our receivers. They made him move."

Other injury updates

Freshman tailback Brendan Douglas (sprained knee) missed a third straight day, while fellow freshman tailback A.J. Turman remained out with knee and ankle sprains. (That heights the chance freshman J.J. Green will be the No. 3 tailback.) Fullback Merritt Hall, the top backup, was out a second straight day with a neck strain.

The receiver position is also fairly banged up, though not with the top players. Junior Jonathan Rumph missed practice with a hamstring strain, as did freshman Tramel Terry with a a bruised knee. Seniors Rhett McGown (ankle sprain) and Rantavious Wooten (hamstring) were limited in practice.

Richt indicated Terry's injury wasn't serious. Terry is still recovering from an ACL tear last December, and Richt said there wasn't a plan for how to use him, or whether to use him.

"He's fine, it's nothing big, we just kept him out today," Richt said. "But we'll just see how quickly he gets back from that."

The requisite Leonard Floyd update

Richt isn't stingy with praise, but he is cautious about it. So it was interesting that when asked what kind of role freshman outside linebacker Leonard Floyd would have this season, he wasn't restrained.

"Well I think Leonard's gonna play early, middle, late," Richt said. "He's practiced well enough for us to feel like we have to get him in the game. Whether he's a starter or not, and exactly where he plays, that may change as the games go along. But we've gotta get him in the game. All of our special teams coaches love him too."

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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