Faton Bauta the third quarterback 'right now'

semerson@macon.comOctober 29, 2013 

ATHENS - The No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart may seem a pretty minor point. Then again, the No. 3 tailback spot also seemed none too important before the season.

So it does bear noting that redshirt freshman Faton Bauta has officially ascended to the third spot, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo confirmed after Tuesday's practice. So if anything happened to Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason, next up would be Bauta, who has yet to take a snap in a real game.

Entering the season, redshirt sophomore Christian LeMay and senior walk-on Parker Welch were battling it out for the third spot. But Bobo said Bauta's performance in August earned him the spot.

"When we had the scrimmages, the scrimmage before the season started, he made more plays and was more productive in those scrimmages, and that's why he went up to No. 3," Bobo said.

Those three quarterbacks were the only ones to travel to Tennessee, and last week at Vanderbilt the three were joined by Welch.

"We usually travel four, but there's been so many injuries, and so many guys are having to go for special teams. So we've really only traveled three (quarterbacks) and Faton's No. 3 right now," Bobo said.

Gurley expected to be '100 percent'

There's now no doubt that star tailback Todd Gurley will be able to play against Florida. The only question is how much, and Bobo is bullish on that.

"I expect him to be 100 percent, ready to play," Bobo said. "I expect him to be excited, and play hard. I thought this week, each day he got stronger and stronger. And we've just gotta play the game and see. We've gotta do a good job of being smart, early, and do a good job of getting him to the fourth quarter."

Junior receiver Michael Bennett isn't quite as 100 percent as he prepares to play for the first time since meniscus surgery. His hamstring was a bit tight on Tuesday, according to Bobo, who indicated that was only because of running harder than he had in three weeks.

"He was running every route full-speed, so we've just gotta be a little careful the next two days, and make sure we get him to Saturday," Bobo said.

Harvey-Clemons and Matthews 'on target'

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham sounded optimistic that two key starters could play on Saturday. The question is how much.

Sophomore safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and freshman safety Tray Matthews are both "on target" to play, Grantham said. Harvey-Clemons will go full-contact on Wednesday, and they will gauge his performance then.

"I think the key will be how he feels (Wednesday), relative to how much work he got (Tuesday), because he really did pretty much everything we would ask him to do in a practice," Grantham said. "But right now it's on target for him to be able to help us and contribute."

If Harvey-Clemons does play, Grantham indicated he would return to his spot at the star position when Georgia is in its nickel defense. Damian Swann will play the star in the nickel when Harvey-Clemons isn't in the game. Georgia actually played pretty well with Swann at the nickel after Harvey-Clemons was hurt at Vanderbilt, so Grantham said he's open to keeping Harvey-Clemons at strong safety in the nickel.

"I think Damian plays the nickel well. I've always thought that," Grantham said. "But if Josh is back we'll continue to let Josh play that role and play (Swann) outside. But there's nothing that says outside we couldn't switch that."

Sophomore Sheldon Dawson moves into the second cornerback role in the nickel role if Harvey-Clemons can't play, or is at strong safety. Freshman Shaq Wiggins is the other starting cornerback regardless.

Matthews has practiced in a regular jersey the past two days. If his hamstring isn't sore on Wednesday, his workload in practice will again be increased.

"Hopefully he can contribute and give us some snaps," Grantham said.

Rumph set to play (maybe)

Walk-on receiver Kenneth Towns has joined the injury list, missing Tuesday's with an undisclosed injury. That enhances the chances that the long-delayed Georgia debut of Jonathan Rumph will come. Of course that was the plan heading into the Vanderbilt game, but Rumph's nagging hamstring injury prevented it.

"He still a little bit gimpy. In warmups he really wasn't warming up," Bobo said. "We're trying to get him in there, trying to get him ready. He's gotta be able to be functional, and we didn't really feel he was functional to be in that game. ... But we've seen some signs this week of him cutting it loose and trying to compete."

So the plan is to play Rumph and not redshirt him, even at this late juncture of the season.

"We're planning on it," Bobo said. "We've got two more days of practice. I've liked what I've seen," Bobo said, then alluded to Towns' injury. "We'll have to see how he responds, and then how Rumph responds, and then make a decision."

Toby Johnson injured

Junior defensive lineman Toby Johnson was the latest addition to the injury list, missing Tuesday's practice with a sprained ankle. His status for Saturday's game is unknown.

Senior outside linebacker T.J. Stripling, who mostly plays on special teams, remains out with a sprained ankle.

Related stories:

Murray: ‘No regrets’ about coming back to school

Herrera aims to bring 'nastiness' back to Georgia defense

This and that: The depleted receiving corps, injury updates, downfield passing

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