Bacarri Rambo, a former Seminole County star who now plays for Georgia, was a 2011 AP All-American after registering the second-most interceptions in the country (eight) and tallying 55 tackles. He returned those picks 157 yards, which ranked fourth nationally and third all-time in school history for a single season.
ATLANTA — Mark Richt would not confirm expectations No. 5 Georgia finally will be at full strength this week against Tennessee.
Georgia has won its first four games, including Saturday night’s 48-3 rout of Vanderbilt, with All-America safety and former Seminole County star Bacarri Rambo and starting linebacker Alec Ogletree serving suspensions.
Richt has never clarified how long the suspensions will last. On Sunday he continued his weekly ritual of not updating the status of the two defensive stars.
“We’ll figure it out in pregame warmup I guess, just like last week,” Richt said.
It has been difficult to notice the Bulldogs have been missing two key players on defense. Georgia’s balanced offense, led by quarterback Aaron Murray and freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, has kept the Bulldogs winning.
Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) has topped 40 points in four consecutive games for the first time in school history.
Murray completed his first 12 passes, Gurley rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns, and Marshall added two touchdown runs, including a 52-yarder, in the impressive win over the Commodores.
Saturday night’s win matched the Bulldogs’ largest margin of victory in the series. It also matched a 62-17 win over Kentucky in 2004 as Georgia’s most lopsided win under Richt.
Now the Bulldogs could gain more momentum if they have Ogletree and Rambo back this week.
Rambo led the SEC with eight interceptions last season, giving him 13 for his career.
Ogletree had 52 tackles, 3 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in eight games last season.
Ogletree’s twin brother, fullback Alexander Ogletree, strongly hinted on his @Non—Stop—Grind Twitter account on Wednesday the suspensions will end this week. He said the Ogletree brothers and Rambo will be “on a mission!” on Monday.
Rambo’s high school coach, Seminole County coach Alan Ingram, said this summer the suspension followed a second positive drug test for marijuana. Alec Ogletree was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Cornerback Sanders Commings and linebacker Chase Vasser were suspended for the first two games.
Georgia could have a deeper defense the remainder of the season, thanks to the experience gained by players filling in the last four weeks.
“I think to this point our team has done a good job, especially on defense with guys stepping into roles that are more than they probably would have been if there weren’t anybody losing playing time,” Richt said.
“I think everybody has had an opportunity to play more than they probably would have. They’ve benefited from it and thankfully we’ve won to this point through it all.”
The Bulldogs looked powerful in the lopsided win over Vanderbilt, but Richt said the team hasn’t reached its peak.
“Do I think we can get better? Yeah, I do think we can continue to get better,” Richt said.
Georgia’s defense can use Ogletree and Rambo against Tennessee’s potent passing game.
Tyler Bray threw for 401 yards in Tennessee’s 47-26 win over Akron on Saturday.
The Vols also had a career-high 151 yards rushing by Rajion Neal.
Asked if Tennessee’s offense is the best the Bulldogs have faced this season, Richt said, “I think so, definitely throwing the ball.
“They are throwing it and catching it extremely well. Their run game is starting to come around, too, and I know that has been important to them to do that. They want balance in their attack and it’s hard to have balance when you have the types of receivers they’ve got.”