Jenkins could fill Jones' shoes again

ATHENS, Ga. -- Jordan Jenkins has played the Jarvis Jones role already this season, when the true freshman outside linebacker replaced

his injured All-American “big brother” in Georgia’s starting lineup against Florida Atlantic.

If Jenkins fills in for Jones -- who has not practiced since spraining an ankle in an Oct. 6 loss to South Carolina -- against Kentucky on Saturday, he already has a goal in mind.

“I’ve been thinking on it just in case he doesn’t play, if he plays hurt a little bit. I don’t know which it’s going to be, but I’m trying to get ready,” Jenkins said after Wednesday’s practice. “If he is out, I’m going to try to hurry up and get some sacks and get up to his level and get past him before he comes back.”

Jenkins is second on the team with three sacks, trailing only Jones’ 5.5. And it’s distinctly possible that Jones won’t play against the Wildcats, as defensive coordinator Todd Grantham called him questionable on Tuesday and Bulldogs coach Mark Richt would not speculate on his status after Wednesday’s practice.

“I don’t really want the whole world to know what’s going on, either, because somebody has to play us, as well, and decide whether they’re planning for him or not planning for him,” Richt said. “That’s why I’m not going to say anything.”

Jenkins has played the most among Georgia’s defensive freshmen, which is hardly a surprise given that his coaches thought he could someday fill Jones’ shoes once he leaves for the NFL. Richt’s staff even assigns Jenkins and Jones as roommates on road trips -- which is not entirely pleasant for the freshman, who joked about the minor hazing he has endured.

“I don’t never get no congratulatory stuff from Jarvis. I almost called him ‘Coach Jarvis’ for a second,” Jenkins laughed. “I always do everything for him. When we get to the hotels, we room together. The AC will be rock bottom and I’ll be like, ‘Can you turn the air down?’ And he said, ‘You’ve got legs. Go on and get up, freshman.’ Somebody will knock at the door for roll call, I’ve got to get up from the far side of the room and go open the door. But it’s brotherly love. I’ll take a little bit of it.”

Hall the hammer: Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo mentioned a possibly surprising candidate as the Bulldogs’ most effective offensive player from the South Carolina game.

Bobo said fullback Merritt Hall -- who had one carry for 5 yards and served primarily as a blocker -- was outstanding against the Gamecocks and has been throughout the season.

“He’s touched it twice, he’s got two first downs on third down,” Bobo said of Hall, who has two carries for 10 yards this season. “He probably played the best out of anybody in the game against South Carolina. We weren’t in a lot of ‘21’ or base personnel sets, but when we were, he did his job. He’s been very, very, very effective.”

That has particularly been the case in the Bulldogs’ goal-line running package, where Hall and freshman Quayvon Hicks have both helped their team enjoy consistent success in a two-fullback backfield.

“I’ll tell you what, our lead blocker on all our runs has been fantastic this year -- Merritt Hall and even Quayvon in the goal-line set,” Bobo said. “We’ve got four goal-line situations where we call jumbo and we’ve scored every time. Those two lead blockers are Quayvon and Merritt Hall, so we’re 4-for-4 and you can’t really argue with that success.”

Scoreboard watching: Richt said he has no interest in trying to prevent the players from discovering the score of Saturday afternoon’s Florida-South Carolina game, which will have major implications in the SEC East race.

After losing to South Carolina two weekends ago, the Bulldogs have made no secret that they’re rooting for Florida to hand the Gamecocks their second conference loss in order for the Oct. 27 game between the Bulldogs and Gators to be for the division lead. As long as the Bulldogs’ scoreboard watching does not distract from their preparations for Saturday night’s game against Kentucky, Richt believes a passing interest in another game is fine.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to stop whether anybody knows what happened in the ballgame,” Richt said. “I think everybody is going to know what happened in the ballgame. I’m not expecting that we keep it some kind of a secret or even that I want to keep it a secret.

“The reality of that situation is that South Carolina’s got three more games to play in league play, not just one, and we’ve got four games to play in league play. So again, we know we’ve got to focus on our business or it won’t mean anything.”