ATHENS - Mark Richt has maintained all preseason that we will have to wait until halftime of the Clemson game to find out whether kicker Marshall Morgan is suspended. Reading between the lines, however, it seems clear: Proceed as if Morgan is suspended for at least one game.
Morgan did not get many, if any, kicks in Georgia's final scrimmage on Wednesday night, according to multiple sources. Walk-ons Adam Erickson and Patrick Beless are the favorites to do the kicking at Clemson, and another source said even punter Collin Barber has been getting a look.
Beyond that, playing Morgan in the opener would run contrary to the way Richt has handled discipline the past few years.
Last year, when Branden Smith was arrested for marijuana possession, he was subsequently cleared and Richt announced early in the preseason that Smith would miss no time. Since Smith was found to have done nothing wrong, Richt didn't let his player twist in the wind.
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Meanwhile, Morgan has already plead guilty to boating under the influence in July on Lake Oconee, accepting probation. Normally a DUI would be an automatic two-game suspension under UGA's student-athlete discipline policy, but since that policy didn't have a rule on boating under the influence, there could be some leeway.
Every other time Richt has played coy with suspensions - Bacarri Rambo in 2011 and 2012, and Alec Ogletree in 2012 - the player has ended up being suspended for at least one game.
Is it possible Richt is switching up and Morgan will magically be available at Clemson? Until the coach actually confirms anything, it's always possible. But all indications are that the bigger drama is whether Morgan plays against South Carolina in Week 2.
Receiver Malcolm Mitchell was asked after Friday's practice whether he had trust in a kicker once they got inside the 35. To be fair, the name of the kicker was never mentioned, but Mitchell expressed optimism either way.
"I'm not too worried about that," Mitchell said. "Our kicker, I believe in him. I think he'll hit it, without a doubt. So I don't think there's any pressure with that."
Then Mitchell smiled.
"But if we get that close," he said, "I think we might as well get the most points."