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COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Bulldogs trying to stay healthy, react to No. 19 preseason ranking; FSU star RB Thompson to miss entire season?

Former Seminole County star Bacarri Rambo, right, signs an autograph during UGA’s Fan Day on Saturday in Athens.

Former Seminole County star Bacarri Rambo, right, signs an autograph during UGA’s Fan Day on Saturday in Athens.

ATHENS -- Georgia coach Mark Richt just wants to keep his Bulldogs healthy with the season opener against Boise State less than two weeks away.

Richt, whose injury list included star freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell before Crowell returned this weekend looking better than ever, is pleased the team finished its second preseason scrimmage this past week with no new major ailments.

"We did have a little cramping going on from the heat afterwards with (starting center) Ben Jones," Richt said. "It's nothing too serious."

Crowell had a strained groin and backup tailback Richard Samuel a strained quadriceps. Both missed Wednesday's scrimmage at Sanford Stadium, but Crowell came back Saturday at full speed and turned a few heads.

"It was a competition day, and Isaiah wanted to be a part of it, and he contributed," said Richt.

Richt added that -- barring another injury -- Crowell will be ready to go Sept. 3 against the Broncos.

But Crowell is just one of the key players the Bulldogs expect to contribute right away who have been bitten by the injury bug so far in fall practice.

Richt: Bulldogs seem restless at practice Monday, ready to face No. 5 Boise State

ATHENS — The 19th-ranked Georgia football team continued preparations for the 2011 season opener with a two-hour practice Monday at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

According to coach Mark Richt, the full-pads session was “kind of a pretty long fundamental” practice.

“I see certain guys really fighting through the monotony of it,” Richt said. “It’s the time of camp where the guys want to play an opponent. Some guys have done a better job of being mature enough to fight through being tired, sore, bored, whatever it is, to get better. A few guys still need to learn that. It wasn’t an awful practice by any means, but it was not as good as some.

“We’ll watch the films and talk to the guys about fighting through it. Overall, we got done what we needed to get done. We got it on film, and we’ll teach from it. We got some value out of it.”

Richt then quickly added, “We as coaches want to play a game, too.”

The Bulldogs will practice in shorts today and then will have a practice game against the scout team that will assume the roles of Boise State players.

“The practice game will liven things up,” Richt said. “We’re beginning to spend time with the scouts and have a steady installation of the plan.”

Richt said receiver Marlon Brown “tweaked” his ankle on Saturday and did not practice on Monday, adding, “We don’t think it’s anything real serious.”

Georgia and Boise State will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 3, in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in the Georgia Dome. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. and will be televised nationally by ESPN.

A week ago Sunday, freshman linebacker Ray Drew -- one of the nation's most heralded defensive prospects out of Thomasville -- separated his right shoulder in a scooter accident, but isn't expected to miss too much time.

That's not the case for free safety Jakar Hamilton, who recently broke his ankle and is likely out for the season.

But when one player goes down, that just means another has to step up. And so far, a pair of former Southwest Georgia stars have done just that.

Former Early County standout Shawn Williams, who was battling Hamilton for the starting job before Hamilton got hurt, played like a starter in the Bulldogs' most recent scrimmage. The junior finished with seven tackles, which was second on the team behind safety-turned-linebacker Alex Ogletree, who recorded eight tackles and a sack.

Another former Southwest Georgia star who shined this past week during UGA's scrimmage was Seminole County's Bacarri Rambo. Rambo and Jordan Love each made six tackles, and Rambo had an interception.

Quarterback Aaron Murray completed 11 of 16 passes for 108 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Second-string QB Hutson Mason was 13 of 27 passing for 125 yards.

Murray then followed that up with a head-turning performance during Saturday's practice.

While the defense came out on top during the pass skeleton drill, the Murray-led offense won the rushing, play-action pass, one-on-one and 11-on-11 in the red zone segments. In fact, most of the red zone featured passing plays as it began with 3rd-and-seven or 3rd-and eight plays.

"Aaron (Murray) had good protection all day and was able to make very comfortable throws," Richt said. "The offense scored four straight touchdowns during the red zone drill."

Rantavious Wooten, former Tift County star Israel Troupe and Valdosta's Malcolm Mitchell combined for 148 yards receiving and a 20-yard touchdown on 13 catches for 61 yards.

"The offense made a lot of plays here and there," Murray said, adding he was happy to see the Bulldogs head into the final two weeks of practice injury free. "There were some lulls, but that's going to happen. I'm very proud of both sides of the ball and how they played (this weekend)."

RICHT REACTS TO NO. 19 PRESEASON RANKING BY AP: On Saturday, The Associated Press Top 25 college football preseason poll was released, and the Bulldogs debuted at No. 19, while their season-opening opponent Boise State checked in at No. 5. Oklahoma will start out at No. 1.

When asked during his post-practice media session if he felt like the Bulldogs were a Top 20 team, Richt said matter-of-factly, "We are now."

Richt then added he was happy UGA was getting preseason recognition, even if the Bulldogs were the only team in the preseason Top 25 that had a losing record last season.

"It's nice to be ranked right now, and we knew Boise would be highly-ranked, and this is an opportunity to play a top five team to open the season," Richt said.

The Southeastern Conference had a record eight teams in the preseason AP poll. Alabama is No. 2, followed by LSU (No. 4), South Carolina (No. 12), Arkansas (No. 15), the Bulldogs (No. 19), Mississippi State (No. 20), Florida (No. 22) and Auburn (No. 23). The SEC has won five consecutive BCS titles.

Georgia was ranked No. 22 in the preseason in the USA Today coaches' poll.

FSU'S THOMPSON DEALING WITH BACK ISSUES: Florida State tailback Chris Thompson remains sidelined with a chronic back injury and his coach isn't sure when he could return.

Thompson led the sixth-ranked Seminoles last year with 845 rushing yards that included three touchdown runs of 70 or more yards -- one a 93-yard TD burst at Miami. Thompson could be redshirted if he's unable to get back this fall.

Coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday that veteran tailbacks Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas have looked good in practice, although Thomas just returned last week after being held out with migraine headaches. Freshmen James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman would move up a notch in their bid for carries this fall.

Fisher also said Monday that redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett has a strong hold on the job as EJ Manuel's backup.