ATHENS - As a result of Cornelius Washington's arrest on Sunday morning, the Georgia football team will be without its leader in sacks for at least two games.
Head coach Mark Richt said on Sunday that Washington's arrest, for DUI and speeding, falls under the category of a "minimum 20 percent" of the season suspension. He later specified that would mean "at least" two games. So effectively Washington is out for Saturday's visit to Tennessee and the following week's game at Vanderbilt.
"It's a setback, but I don't know if it'll deter us from playing hard and playing well," Richt said. "It'll give something else another opportunity."
Richt said the coaches would be discuss the replacement for Washington at their Sunday evening meeting. Sophomore Chase Vasser has been Washington's immediate backup, and the team could also move some personnel around. Ray Drew, the highly-touted freshman, has played sparingly.
"It'll be an opportunity for him. He'll be part of the mix as far as the discussion," Richt said when asked about Drew. "Will Ray be the sole beneficiary of the playing time, or the part beneficiary, I don't know, that'll be part of what is decided this evening. ... and in practice."
Richt said he met on Sunday with Washington, who had two sacks in Saturday's win over Mississippi State, a week after having 1.5 sacks at Ole Miss.
"He's sick. He feels awful. He knows that he let the team down, let his coaches down, let his family down, and the Bulldog nation in general," Richt said. "He understands that there's going to be a price to be paid. He's going to take his punishment like a man and come back and finish strong for us."
Last year freshman Demetre Baker was dismissed from the team after a DUI. Richt indicated that Washington did not receive as harsh a penalty because Baker's arrest came last year amid the team's rash of off-field problems, while Washington's was the first known arrest since October of 2010.
"The team rules haven't changed. But it was a different climate a year ago, for sure," Richt said. "There's no doubt about that."