- University of Georgia’s outside linebacker Cornelius Washington was arrested for DUI Oct. 2
- Washington must sit out the next two football games against the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University
- The Georgia Athletic Association DUI policy states players must miss a minimum of 20% of the team’s season
By Ryan Black, writer at the University of Georgia’s Red and Black
He notched two sacks against Mississippi State, boosting his total to a team-leading 3.5 sacks in 2011.
Washington will not have the chance to add to that number for at least the next two weeks, though, following his DUI arrest in Jackson County the morning of Oct. 2.
The Georgia Athletic Association’sofficial policy regarding DUI arrests calls for a player to miss a minimum of “20 percent” of a team’s season, meaning that Washington will miss both this Saturday’s game against Tennessee and the Oct. 15 matchup with Vanderbilt.
“He’s sick. He feels awful. He understands that he let the team down, let the coaches down, let his family down and the Bulldog Nation in general,” said Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who said he had met with Washington since the arrest. “He understands that there’s gonna be a price to be paid. He’s going to take his punishment like a man and come back and finish strong for us.”
Former Bulldog linebacker Demetre Baker faced a similar DUI charge last season and was dismissed from the team.
Richt said Washington’s arrest is different than Baker’s, which came in the middle of a 2010 season in which 11 Bulldogs were arrested and four players were kicked off the team.
“The team rules haven’t changed, but it was a different climate a year ago, for sure,” he said.
While Richt admitted the arrest is a distraction, he said he does not believe it will hinder the team’s focus in any way.
“It’s a setback, but I don’t know if it’ll deter us from playing hard and playing well,” Richt said. “It’s gonna give someone else another opportunity to play well.”
One of those players may be freshman Ray Drew, who came in as a highly-touted prospect but has rarely seen the field this season.
“It’ll be an opportunity for him,” Richt said. “He’ll be part of the mix as far as our discussion … Will Ray be the sole beneficiary of that playing time or part beneficiary of it? I don’t know. That’s what we gotta decide here this evening and then some of it may be decided as we practice [this week].”
Bulldogs in thick of SEC East race
Following losses by Florida and South Carolina on Saturday, Georgia finds itself in a three-way tie for the division lead with the Gators and Gamecocks, with the trio sporting identical 2-1 records in league play.
While Richt noted his team is in a better position this week than it was last week, he refused to look too far down the line.
“There’s still an awful lot of football to be played,” he said. “We know we don’t control our own destiny but we know that there’s a good chance that everybody is going to get knocked around, and we’ll see who ends up on top at the end. We’re closer than we were a week ago, but the bottom line is we must just focus on one game, and that’s Tennessee.”
After suffering lopsided losses in his last two trips to Knoxville — 35-14 in 2007 and 45-19 in 2009 — Richt is ready to get back to the winning ways that brought him victories against the Volunteers the first three times he coached in Neyland Stadium.
“This game versus Tennessee, at Tennessee, is a big challenge,” he said. “It’s very difficult to beat them there, and we haven’t done it in quite some time.”
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray won’t make it easy on the Bulldogs, either.
Bray leads the SEC in total offense, passing yards per game and passer efficiency, prompting Richt to say the sophomore is “no doubt” the best signal-caller Georgia has faced since Boise State’s Kellen Moore in the season opener.
“Tyler is very accurate as you can see by his quarterback rating — he may be the best in the country,” he said. “I know he’s the best in the league. I don’t know where he is nationally, but he’s gotta be high up there. It’s definitely going to be a great challenge for us.”
Check out Georgia Athletic Association‘s policies.
Click here to read more about Demetre Baker’s DUI charge in USA Today.
Editor: Anna Hall
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