Notebook: Todd Gurley’s early drop could’ve cost him 3rd TD

ATHENS — If the back judge in Saturday’s game between Georgia and Buffalo had paid a little closer attention, Todd Gurley might have two touchdowns to his credit rather than three and Tavarres King might have one more.

Technically, it should have been ruled a fumble. Had it not been picked up by King in the end zone, it could have resulted in a touchback.

“It sure looked like he did [drop the ball before crossing the goal line], and we saw it,” coach Mark Richt said on his weekly radio show Monday night. “And we definitely made mention of that to him. It could have cost him a touchdown right there.”

Since the officials signaled touchdown and there was no review of the play, the touchdown stood. But there was a moment of doubt.

“As soon as he dropped it I was yelling that we needed to hurry up and kick the extra point,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said with a laugh. “It was fortunate it didn’t cost us the game or six points there.”

Said Gurley: “I thought I was across the goal-line… . The coaches talked to me and told me to hold onto the ball a little longer. It was just a mistake by me and next time I’ll hold the ball.”

If Georgia chose to, it could change the official scoring and award the touchdown to King and take it away from Gurley. SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said NCAA policy allows the home team to change statistics, but it has to happen within a week and “it would be up to the institution.”

Georgia has no plans to revise anything. “The official called it a touchdown and it was not reviewed, so that’s what the stats reflect,” UGA spokesman Claude Felton said.

Richt recalled a similar play involving Mikey Henderson against Western Kentucky in 2006. On 64-yard, first-quarter punt return, Henderson started to celebrate prematurely, holding the ball aloft in his left hand inside the 5-yard line. He lost control before he crossed the goal line and the rolled out of the end zone for a touchback.

“We got no points out of it,” Richt remembered. “So we’ve got to be careful.”

Injury update

The availability of several key players for the Missouri game remained in question Tuesday as Georgia completed its second of four practices this week.

Cornerback Malcolm Mitchell returned to practice Tuesday in a green, non-contact jersey. The sophomore from Valdosta was a late scratch this past Saturday after spraining his left ankle in last Thursday’s “walk-through” practice. Richt said earlier in the day Tuesday he was “hopeful” both Mitchell and right tackle John Theus (ankle) will be able to play. Neither Theus nor backup tackle Watts Dantzler, who also has an ankle injury, were able to practice on Tuesday. More than likely they were getting treatment in the training room.

Meanwhile, tailback Ken Malcome is apparently able to play despite the hand injury he suffered late in Saturday’s game. He practiced Monday but was out sick on Tuesday. His status will be reevaluated Tuesday.

Georgia did get back senior split end Marlon Brown on Tuesday. Brown returned to practice after missing Saturday’s game and Monday’s practice with a strained hamstring.

‘Old man football’ fallout

Georgia players and coaches were having fun Tuesday with the comment of Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson’s, who said the Bulldogs play “old man football.”

“I’ll say this: Being over 50 — I’m getting AARP stuff in the mail — so I thought it was a compliment,” Richt quipped. “He’s got a lot of respect for us. That’s what I thought. I just never heard it put that way before.”

While Richt had fun with it, Georgia’s players were clearly coached up to not to give the Tigers any bulletin board material in return. Their replies to the “old man football” reference were measured and generally bland.

Asked what he thought about Richardson’s comments, wide receiver Michael Bennett said: “We’re just going to have to stay focused on our game plan.”

Asked if that was a response he was instructed to give, he said, “Something like that, yeah.”

Asked if he had options, Bennett laughed. “A, B and C, I guess,” he said. “I’ve got a few more in my pocket if you want them. ‘Focus on the game.’ ‘They’re a great team.’”

Quarterback Aaron Murray was one of the brave ones who strayed from script: “As long as we get the ‘W’ at the end of the day, we could play powderpuff football for all I care.”

O-line needs improvement

Center David Andrews said he thought Georgia’s offensive line played “pretty well” in the opening game against Buffalo but not well enough.

“There are a lot of areas for improvement,” Andrews said. “We started back [Monday] working on them. I don’t think anyone needs to jump to conclusions after our first game, but I’m excited for this week and seeing what we’re ready to do.”

Etc. . . .

Richt remained vague about the status of suspended defensive stars Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo. They were listed on Tuesday’s pregame depth chart as the starters at Mo linebacker and free safety, respectively.  “I would say we’ll let y’all know when the time comes,” Richt said. . . . Georgia coaches said it will be the end of the week before they decide on a starting tailback. Bobo said it’d be decided on “productivity” in the last game and how they do in practice this week. . . .  Split end Marlon Brown returned to practice Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game and Monday’s practice with a strained hamstring. . . . Georgia got an allotment of 6,000 tickets for the game at Missouri. Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 71,004. . . . Happy birthday to former Georgia head coach and athletic director Vince Dooley. He turned 80 years old on Tuesday. . . . Georgia got an allotment of 6,000 tickets for the game at Missouri. Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 71,004.

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