Georgia’s secondary will be without two key players for the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl against Nebraska after safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and cornerback Sheldon Dawson were suspended for violating unspecified rules, the school announced Monday.
It is the second suspension of the season for Harvey-Clemons, a sophomore from Valdosta. He missed the season opener against Clemson for violating university drug policy after he admitted to smoking marijuana in his dorm room last spring.
Harvey-Clemons, a strong safety, started Georgia’s other 11 games and recorded 66 tackles, one interception and five passes defended. He also had two forced fumbles and was tied for the SEC lead with three fumble recoveries.
With Harvey-Clemons out, the Bulldogs have four other players listed on the depth chart at safety: starting free safety Tray Matthews and reserves Corey Moore, Connor Norman and Quincy Mauger.
Dawson, a sophomore from North Memphis, Tenn., played in all 12 regular-season games and recorded 13 tackles. He made his first start in the regular-season finale against Georgia Tech.
Dawson also had emerged as the Bulldogs’ primary kick returner and averaged a team-high 21.9 yards on seven attempts. His season-long return of of 41 yards to open the Kentucky game set up a Georgia touchdown.
Dawson moved into the lineup against Tech when Shaq Wiggins was sidelined with a concussion. Wiggins is set to return for the Gator Bowl across from starter Damian Swann with Brendan Langley as the top backup at cornerback.
Losing Harvey-Clemons and Dawson is a blow to the Bulldogs’ secondary, given the team’s shaky pass defense. The Bulldogs rank 10th in the SEC and 68th nationally in passing yards allowed and 11th in the SEC and 84th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
But the Bulldogs may not have to worry as much about defending the pass in the Gator Bowl. Nebraska ran the ball on nearly 60 percent of its plays during the regular season with 541 rushing attempts and 362 passing attempts in 12 games.
The Cornhuskers rank 19th nationally with 221.7 rushing yards per game and 93rd with 199.5 passing yards per game.