Cornelius Washington arrested

ATHENS, Ga. -- Starting Georgia outside linebacker Cornelius Washington was arrested early Sunday near Commerce, Ga., and charged with speeding and driving under the influence.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday that Washington will sit out the Bulldogs' upcoming games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt following the arrest.

"He feels awful," Richt said. "He knows he let the team down, let his coaches down, let his family down, the Bulldog nation in general. He understands that there's going to be a price to be paid. He's going to take his punishment like a man and come back and finish strong for us. That's kind of his state of mind right now."

A Jackson County Jail spokesman said Washington, 22, was booked and released on a $3,500 property bond following his arrest for suspicion of misdemeanor DUI and driving 92 mph in a 55-mph zone on U.S. Highway 441.

Commerce police stopped Washington's 2009 Dodge Journey at the corner of 441 and State Street and administered an Alco-Sensor test to Washington -- who told the officer he had consumed "a couple of shots several hours prior," according to the arrest report -- and a female passenger, who was asleep in the passenger seat.

Washington registered a 0.12 on the test -- exceeding the legal limit of 0.08 -- and failed a standard field sobriety test, according to the report. The female passenger blew a 0.176 and was booked for underage possession of alcohol.

Richt said university policy for a DUI requires that an athlete sit out 20 percent of the regular season, which in this case would be two games. A year ago, Richt dismissed freshman linebacker Demetre Baker when he was booked on DUI charges on the night of the Bulldogs' loss to Mississippi State -- the result of a zero-tolerance policy that existed at the time after a spate of Bulldogs arrests.

"Team rules haven't changed, but it was a different climate a year ago, there's no doubt about that," Richt said.

Washington, a junior from Hephzibah, Ga., was coming off his best game as a Bulldog, as he made two sacks in Georgia's 24-10 win against Mississippi State on Saturday. Washington leads the team with 3½ sacks and eight quarterback hurries and also has 4½ tackles for loss.

Georgia could use Washington's pass rushing ability in the upcoming game against Tennessee, which ranks second in the SEC and 11th in the nation in passing offense, with 336.5 yards per game.

The Bulldogs registered only one sack in their first three games, but totaled nine in wins against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, with Washington leading the charge.

Richt said freshman Ray Drew, one of the key signees in the Bulldogs' 2011 class of recruits, could figure more heavily into the defense's plans, but he was not yet sure who would take Washington's spot.

Chase Vasser actually started ahead of Washington two games ago against Mississippi, recording three tackles, one for negative yardage. Drew played against Mississippi State, but did not record a tackle one week after failing to play a down against Ole Miss.

"It'll be an opportunity for him certainly," Richt said of Drew. "He'll be part of the mix as far as our discussion. Anytime a starter goes out of the game, whether it's by suspension or by injury or whatever it was, it always tends to create more opportunity for guys.

"Will Ray be the sole beneficiary of that playing time or a part beneficiary of it? I don't know. That's what we've got to decide here (at a Sunday night staff meeting) and then some of it may even be decided as we practice, as far as performance goes in practice."

David Ching covers Georgia football for DawgNation.