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ATHENS — Coach Mark Richt said Tuesday his two-game suspension of tailback Caleb King will make it more difficult for Georgia to build off last week’s win over Tennessee. King is Georgia’s 11th player to be arrested this year.
Richt announced King’s suspension on Tuesday following King’s arrest on Monday for failure to appear at a court date for a speeding ticket in nearby Walton County.
King, the team’s second-leading rusher, will miss Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt and the game against Kentucky on Oct. 23.
Georgia ended a four-game losing streak with it’s 41-14 win over Tennessee last week.
Richt said King’s arrest could hurt efforts to build on the win.
“It’s hard to have great continuity week-by-week if a young man has done something to keep himself from being on the field,” Richt said. “Again, it’s our job also to deal with those things, but also not take away from the preparation and not take away from the focus of the team. It’s something I’d prefer not to have to manage, but we’ve been managing it.
“This week, I don’t think there is any doubt our guys will be focusing on Vanderbilt.”
Richt said as players continue to find trouble, his standards have become tougher.
“Oh yeah. No doubt, but they knew that,” Richt said.
Washaun Ealey, who leads Georgia with 246 yards rushing, is expected to start at tailback. Carlton Thomas is questionable with a hamstring injury.
Ealey was arrested in late August and was suspended for the opening game after he struck a vehicle in a school parking deck while driving his roommate’s car on a suspended license.
After Ealey’s arrest, Richt said his staff checks with players “to make sure their licenses are up to date and if they’re not, making them aware of that.”
On Tuesday, Richt said he is increasing efforts to monitor the players’ licenses.
“You can check the licenses to see if they are in good standing on a periodic basis,” Richt said. “Monthly we’ve been doing that, but now we’re are going to do it weekly and maybe we can catch something at the last moment. We don’t want it to get to that point.
“... We are not taking care of it. We just have to make sure it gets taken care of by the student-athlete.”
Richt said he is talking with new athletic director Greg McGarity about the ongoing problem with arrests.
“He and I have already been discussing some things and we’ll implement some things as time goes on that I think will help us,” Richt said. “It will be an ongoing conversation, but I really have a lot of confidence that he’s got some good ideas in that regard and I’m willing to listen to those and see if we can get better at that.”
Richt wouldn’t reveal details of the plans.
This is the second offense for King, a junior. As a freshman, King was cited for riding on a scooter with a suspended license.
Richt’s tough talk, suspensions and even dismissals haven’t kept Georgia players out of local police reports.
Most recently, freshman linebacker Demetre Baker was dismissed from the team by Richt on Sept. 26 following a drunken driving arrest.
On Sept. 3, safety Alec Ogletree was suspended for a game following a misdemeanor theft charge.
Tailback Dontavius Jackson left the team before the season after an arrest on DUI and other charges.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, linebacker Montez Robinsoin and backup punter Trent Dittmer were dismissed from the team after arrests before the season.
Receiver Tavarres King was suspended for the opening game after he was charged with underaged possession of alcohol.
When asked if Richt was sending a message with the suspension of Caleb King, Tavarres King said players already knew the standard is strict.
“Everybody knows at this point in time if you get in trouble you’re going to get a pretty good lashing,” Tavarres King said.
Caleb King was not available for comment.
Richt said freshman tailback Ken Malcome could play for the first time against Vanderbilt.
Center Ben Jones said Malcome (6-0, 218) has emerged in practice with his tough runs.
“He’s not scared to run anybody over,” Jones said. “He runs really hard. He’s not going to hold anything back.”