UGA notes: Washington back in good graces

ATHENS — Georgia’s Cornelius Washington can’t take back what he did in the wee hours of the morning Oct. 2 in Commerce. But if there is a silver lining to his story, it’s in the way he has conducted himself in the three weeks since that night.

Washington, a junior and starting outside linebacker, was suspended for two games after his arrest for DUI and speeding. He returned during the bye week last week and will start against Florida on Saturday in Jacksonville.

“He seemed to be most hurt about the how he had let his teammates and coaches down, how he let Georgia down,” coach Mark Richt said. “That was a good sign for me. He never tried to make up some kind of excuse. He never tried to say he didn’t do this or that. He owned up to it and took his discipline like a man.”

Washington was equally contrite with media in his first interviews since the incident, which occurred the night after he played the best game of his career against Mississippi State.

“I’m trying to look at it as one of the best days of my life,” Washington said. “I learned a lesson, you know, and it’s something that I’ll never do again. I’m just trying to take a negative and turn it into a positive.”

The day after his arrest, Washington addressed the entire team in the locker room and apologized for his actions. The next two weeks he worked on the scout team and took a personal interest in helping get Ray Drew, his understudy, ready for games.

“He was coaching Ray up during team periods and he was out there like he always was the rest of the time,” said Todd Grantham, Washington’s position coach and the defensive coordinator. “I think he’ll step back up and play the way he was before.”

That was exceptionally well. Washington is still second on the team with 3.5 sacks. He also has 11 quarterback pressures.

The Bulldogs have been impressed with Washington’s approach.

“Guys make mistakes,” Richt said. “I hate it when they make mistakes, but I thought Cornelius handled it as well as you could handle it.”

Murray’s crazy weekend

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray spent his off weekend wearing an FSU T-shirt and doing the tomahawk chop at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

Some photos and tweets circulated after Murray was spotted rooting for the Seminoles in their 41-16 win over Maryland on Saturday. Murray, a Tampa native, has several friends on the team, including Plant High teammate and FSU freshman running back James Wilder.

“As long as I wasn’t wearing a Florida shirt,” Murray told reporters with a chuckle. “That probably wasn’t the smartest thing in the world. But at least I wasn’t being stupid, so that’s a good thing.”

Mitchell’s availability

Malcolm Mitchell did not practice Tuesday, a day after leaving practice early because of his pulled hamstring. Whether that means he’ll play Saturday is uncertain. Richt seemed pessimistic Tuesday, but other coaches and teammates seemed hopeful if not expectant.

“I am optimistic, but you never know with a pull or a strain,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He’s a guy we hope will be out there and give us a threat.”

Said Murray: “I think he’ll be ready. I talked to him, and he said he’d be ready. He said it just felt a little tight, and he didn’t want to push it any more. He wants to make sure he doesn’t do anything to damage it. He wants to be able to play extremely hard on Saturday.”

Mitchell, a freshman, remains the Bulldogs’ leading receiver and No. 1 deep threat despite pulling his right hamstring in the second half against Tennessee on Oct. 8. He has 25 catches for 438 yards and three touchdowns.