ATHENS, Ga. - Entering this season, the Georgia Bulldogs expected to have one of their deepest receiving corps of the Mark Richt era.
Michael Bennett and Chris Conley were gearing for their senior seasons, while redshirt juniors Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley were ready to bounce back from injuries. Throw in the promising pair of Reggie Davis and Jonathon Rumph, and everything seemed set for senior quarterback Hutson Mason having quite the arsenal.
Yet as Georgia heads to Kentucky this week for its final road game of the season, Mitchell has played in just four games, Scott-Wesley two and Rumph none.
"We wound up having Rumph, Mitchell and Justin out, and then Chris battled a lot of injuries in camp," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said this week. "It's just one of those things. Our guys with experience were coming off injuries and didn't get back completely healthy to start the season, and it's just taken a little while to get in a groove."
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, who lead the Southeastern Conference with 40.5 points per game, the lack of depth at receiver has gone largely unnoticed this season. Georgia rushed 41 times for 328 yards in the opening 45-21 rout of Clemson and quickly discovered that pounding Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb at the opposition was an effective route to take.
Georgia actually has more 200-yard rushing games than 100-yard receiving games this season, with Conley's 128 yards at Arkansas serving as the lone 100-yard receiving performance. The next highest output was freshman tight end Jeb Blazevich's 83 yards against Vanderbilt.
"I think we're still pretty deep," Bennett said. "We're just not throwing the ball as much as we have in the past, and that is what it's coming down to. We've just been running the ball and running it really well, and Hutson has just been doing what has been asked of him.
"It's not like we're not getting it done. Sure we've made some mistakes and we're not perfect, but the running game is carrying us right now, and we're fine with that."
Bennett leads the Bulldogs in receptions, collecting 28 for 291 yards and four touchdowns. Conley leads the team in yards, racking up 385 on 22 catches and three scores. After missing the first four games, Mitchell has amassed 15 receptions for 105 yards.
Mitchell, who ranked fourth in the SEC with 60.5 receiving yards per game as a freshman in 2011, had seven catches for 55 yards in Saturday's 38-20 loss to Florida.
"We're getting him more involved as we go," Richt said. "He certainly had opportunities in this last game. He still has to polish some things up, but he's at the point now where there is no doubt we would like to get the ball to him."
Said Bobo: The addition of Malcolm for the past three or four games has allowed him to get in a groove, and if he continues to practice like he's practiced, he's only going to get better."
Odds and ends
Richt said after Wednesday's two-hour practice that tailbacks Sony Michel and Keith Marshall look better than they did a week ago, but he wasn't sure either would play at Kentucky. ... Right tackle Kolton Houston will be a captain for the first time Saturday. ... Richt when asked Wednesday evening about the loss to the Gators: "We're well beyond that game. We've moved forward."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.