ATHENS — It was an eventful weekend for the University of Georgia, both in Athens and at various points across the country. If you were monitoring DawgNation, you probably heard about it. If not, we’re going to bring you up to speed here.
1. Ledbetter likely to sit two games
First-year Georgia football coach Kirby Smart is dealing with his first disciplinary issue as defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter was arrested in the wee hours of Sunday morning for underage consumption and possessing a fake ID. Seth Emerson picked up the police report Monday morning and offered a few more details regarding the actual arrest.
While UGA adjusted its stance on transfer policies to accommodate Smart’s philosophy, it’s doubtful there will be any wiggle room when it comes Ledbetter’s consequences. Discipline for drug and alcohol arrests is spelled out in black and white in the Bulldogs’ student-athlete handbook. It is expressly written therein that a non-DUI, alcohol-related arrest calls for an “automatic suspension” from 10 percent of competition dates.
For football and its 12-game season, that comes to 1.2 games. In the past, Georgia has rounded that up to two games. If that’s the interpretation here, that means Ledbetter will sit for the Sept. 3 opener against North Carolina in Atlanta and the home game versus Nicholls the next week.
2. Depth concerns grow at D-end
Losing Ledbetter for that first game is a blow for sure as the Bulldogs lack depth and experience on the defensive line, and end in particular. Ledbetter, a 6-4, 251-pound sophomore from Tucker, figures to be an integral part of the rotation at end. The former 4-star prospect played in seven games as a freshman and finished with four tackles and a quarterback pressure.
Georgia is going to be without another rising sophomore who figured to also be part of that rotation at end. Chauncey Rivers is expected to miss the first three games for violating the Bulldogs’ marijuana-use policy. Since it was a second offense, conduct codes call for sitting out one-third of competition dates, or four games. That began with him missing the TaxSlayer Bowl, and will continue into the 2016 season. That leaves Georgia with only Michael Barnett, Keyon Brown, Joseph Ledbetter and Justin Young to man the position.
The Bulldogs signed three defensive linemen in the incoming class — including early enrollee Julian Rochester — but those guys are all considered interior tackles. However, signees Chauncey Manac and David Marshall are outside linebackers who could likely make the transition to playing with their hand in the dirt. And DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell tells me that Georgia could sign a late qualifier in Mykelle McDaniel of Grayson, who plays defensive end.
In the meantime, expect some position conversions before spring is over.
3. Three football practices this week
Meanwhile, spring football continues with three practices this week, which will be Nos. 4, 5 and 6 of the 15-practice session. After scrimmaging in full pads this past Saturday at Sanford Stadium, the Bulldogs will practice Tuesday and Thursday at the Club Sports Complex and will scrimmage at the stadium again on Friday before breaking for the Easter weekend.
Smart will also host his first coaches’ clinic Thursday and Friday.
4. Major victories for UGA
In other sports, Georgia scored a few major victories over the weekend. The Bulldogs’ women’s swimming team pulled off the most unlikely of its seven national championships under coach Jack Bauerle by overwhelming Stanford and Texas A&M to bring home the title at Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center. Georgia had managed only a third-place finish at the SEC Championships last month.
Coach Josh Brewer’s women’s golf team recorded a wire-to-wire victory in the Mountain View Collegiate in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday. Jillian Hollis shot even-par 72 Saturday to win the individual title at 11-under 205, and the Bulldogs’ closing 1-over 289 gave them 5-under 859 for the 54-hole event. The wins were Georgia’s fourth team and third individual titles of the year.
Also, men’s tennis scored an upset victory over No. 4 Ohio State.
5. Huge disappointments as well
It didn’t go nearly as well elsewhere for the Bulldogs. The men’s basketball team ended its season with a 77-65 loss to Saint Mary’s in the second round of the NIT; the women’s team ended its season with a 62-58 loss to Indiana in the first round of the NCAA tournament; women’s gymnastics recorded a disappointing fifth-place finish at the SEC championships; and the baseball team dropped two of three to Kentucky in the opening SEC series at Foley Field.