By Seth Emerson
ATHENS, Ga. -- For the second straight year, Georgia appears to have lost a top receiver before the South Carolina game.
Star Malcolm Mitchell suffered a knee injury very early in Saturday's game at Clemson and did not return.
The team did not have an immediate diagnosis on the junior, but the signs weren't good: Mitchell sat the rest of the first half with an ice pack on his right knee, rather than go in for treatment.
Last year Michael Bennett tore his ACL the Tuesday prior to Georgia playing South Carolina. At the time, Bennett was the team's leader in receptions.
Bennett's first game back was Saturday.
Houston makes the start
The feel-good story of Kolton Houston did not stop once he was reinstated. As it turned out, Houston started the first game he was eligible.
Georgia's starting right tackle on Saturday was Houston, who just over a month ago was cleared to play by the NCAA, after a three-year battle with the organization. And over the next month, Houston's mother sent him a text every single day, with a countdown till the opener. Houston's parents helped push his case against the NCAA.
"I know how excited they are, and I'm happy for them that they finally get to see me play," Houston said earlier this week."
The decision to start Houston over sophomore John Theus, who started every game last year at right tackle, came down to the wire. And Theus still saw playing time on Saturday.
But the start was a special moment for Houston, who was also heavily recruited by Clemson before signing with Georgia in 2010. It took until his fourth year to finally see the field.
"It's nice. It's become more about football now, and I don't have to worry about those other parts of life," he said.
After head coach Mark Richt played coy with the media, the expected occurred: Kicker Marshall Morgan was suspended.
The sophomore was arrested this summer for boating under the influence, and later plead guilty, accepting probation, but Richt never announced a suspension. But all signs pointed to a suspension of at least one game.
Walk-on Patrick Beless handled the extra points in the first half, while punter Collin Barber kicked off.
Out of the game
Receivers Tramel Terry and Jonathan Rumph are both from South Carolina, but the two newcomers had to watch this one from the sidelines.
Terry still isn't fully recovered from knee surgery last December. Rumph has been dealing with a hamstring strain. Both players made the trip anyway, a luxury the Bulldogs could afford because of an increased travel roster. SEC games are limited to 70 players who travel.
Letting Terry and Rumph make the trip may have been for sentimental reasons. Outside linebacker Chase Vasser, who missed much of the preseason with an ankle sprain, did not make the trip. Nor did freshmen tailbacks Brendan Douglas (knee sprain)and A.J. Turman (knee and ankle sprains).
Among the healthy scatches were junior Kennar Johnson and freshman John Atkins. The two newcomers (Johnson is a junior college transfer) have not been able to crack the two-deep quite yet.