Richt did not consider throwing Thurman off team

ATHENS – The day before Georgia starts its quest for the 2004 SEC title something negative happened. Another suspension, this time to starting middle linebacker Odell Thurman, set the Bulldogs back.

But Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt tried to stay positive during today's meeting with the media.

"He has come a long way," said Richt of Thurman. "We are not going to make anything public about the reason for suspension. He slipped up."

Richt said that Thurman's past history of trouble was one of the reasons for the increased length of suspension. But the head coach did not consider making Thurman leave the team.

"Odell has had issues in the past. The thing he did warranted a three game suspension," Richt said.

Thurman was dismissed from the team in 2002, and got arrested in August of 2003. He will be forced to comply with several physical punishments among other things, said the head coach, in order to return for game four.

Derrick White is now the starting middle linebacker. He started there last season against Clemson. Brannan Southerland has, as a result of the suspension, been moved to middle linebacker. The linebacker depth chart is jumbled.

"I think we have the confidence that if someone is suspended another player will step up," Richt said.

There was other news, and it was positive. "Arnold Harrison graduated Saturday," Sports Information Director Claude Felton announced to start the meeting. Richt clapped and smiled when Felton mentioned the graduation.

Richt said this year's August practice schedule will allow the Bulldogs to ease their way into fall camp. The Bulldogs' first two-a-day practice is not scheduled until Saturday.

"I am glad we are in a five day acclamation period because it slows things down," said Richt. "It allows us to install our offense and defense. I think it will be good for everyone."

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