Georgia still waiting for ruling on Gurley

FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2014, file photo, a Georgia fan holds a sign in support of Georgia running back Todd Gurley who was suspended earlier this week, during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Georgia w
L.G. Patterson, File

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Georgia's wait for a ruling from the NCAA on Todd Gurley's status continued with Monday's start of game-week preparations for Florida.

The Bulldogs were off last week and the team focused on fundamentals in practice.

That changed Monday as No. 9 Georgia entered its normal practice schedule for Saturday's game against Florida in Jacksonville.

Georgia is nearing the three-week mark since Gurley, the star tailback who had been among the top Heisman Trophy candidates, was indefinitely suspended on Oct. 9.

Gurley has missed two games while the school investigated allegations he received improper benefits for signing autographs. Last week, Georgia filed paperwork with the NCAA for his reinstatement.

''It's been stressful, of course, for the coaches and players and of course for Todd,'' senior defensive tackle Mike Thornton said after Monday's practice. ''We have to continue preparing, and we have been. Guys just have to continue to step up like they've been doing.''

Thornton said his concern when the suspension was announced was ''not for me or the selfishness of the team but more for him because Todd is like a little brother to me and I know he was really going through it with the whole thing.''

Gurley is practicing with the team, but not as a starter. That would change only if he is cleared to play by the NCAA.

Freshman Nick Chubb has thrived as the fill-in starter, easing concerns that a prolonged suspension of Gurley could end Georgia's hopes of playing for the Southeastern Conference championship.

Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) has two impressive road wins without Gurley. The Bulldogs shut out Missouri 34-0 before beating Arkansas 45-32.

''I feel like everyone was happy we did it without Todd, but if he comes back it's even better,'' Chubb said last week.

Chubb ran for a combined 345 yards with three touchdowns in the two wins.

''That's the thing about Georgia, we always recruit great players who can step right in if anything happens,'' Thornton said.

Chubb had a combined 68 carries the last two weeks because Georgia was also missing injured tailbacks Keith Marshall and Sony Michel.

Marshall has missed four games with a sprained knee and ankle. Michel has a shoulder injury.

Coach Mark Richt said Sunday that Michel is ''getting closer and closer to being ready to play'' but has not yet received medical clearance. Richt said Marshall saw some practice time last week.

None of the top running backs were made available for interviews on Monday.

When Georgia submitted its request for Gurley's reinstatement, Richt said he hoped ''for a relatively quick turnaround'' from the NCAA. Richt also said ''I have no idea how long it will take.''

''We'd like to know if in fact Todd is going to be able to play against Florida, we'd like to know early enough to prepare for that,'' Richt said.

Richt said Georgia's game plan would be the same with Gurley or Chubb as the starter. The difference is Gurley would receive more snaps during practice if Georgia knew he had been cleared.

Gurley, a junior, has rushed for 773 yards with eight touchdowns and has averaged 8.2 yards per carry.

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