ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia tailback Todd Gurley was able to a few “football-specific drills” during practice Wednesday afternoon.
That’s the good news for the Bulldogs.
Now here’s the bad: “We’re preparing to play without him,” Mark Richt said.
Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt is expected to be the third consecutive game that Georgia will play without Gurley, who is viewed as one of the nation’s best running backs. Gurley suffered a high ankle sprain against LSU and has yet to return.
He has gradually been doing more on the side at practice, but it has not involved scrimmage work and Richt said it was “not at a tempo that would make you feel like he’ll have a chance.”
Tight end Jay Rome knows the struggle that Gurley faces right now. He has been dealing with – and continually playing through -- an ankle sprain that has been bothering him since the preseason.
“It’s really hard,” said Rome, who has three catches this season, “especially with a high ankle sprain. You can tape it as much as you want to to make it feel better, but at a certain point, the tape is not going to do anything except to make sure you don’t roll it even more. It’s not really going to do anything for the pain.
"The hardest thing coming back would be cutting and making direct cuts, and the tape is only going to do so much to make the ankle stable."
Rome says his message for Gurley has been to wait until he’s truly ready to return, which Rome himself learned by re-tweaking his ankle against Clemson and then North Texas earlier in the season.
“I kind of came back too early twice and kind of re-injured it both times and ended up taking myself out even longer,” Rome said. “It’s a tough one. I’ve just really had to tell (Gurley), ‘Man, you have to come back when you feel like you’re ready. I know it’s hard. But try not to feel any pressure from us or the coaches or anybody to try to get back too soon, because we’re going to need you. I don’t want you to try to come back too soon and hurt yourself again.’”
After Saturday’s Vanderbilt game, Georgia will draw its second bye week of the season before the annual meeting with rival Florida in Jacksonville.
*** Richt also said Wednesday that safety Tray Matthews (hamstring) is still unable to practice and likely to miss his third consecutive game as well.
"Tray isn't even attempting right now to do any football-specific drills," Richt said. "Todd was at least doing some things that were football-related."