Oct. 14, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. - After a bye weekend that allowed players time for rest and recuperation, the Georgia Bulldogs will return to the gridiron this Saturday as they travel to Lexington, Ky., to face SEC foe Kentucky in a 7 p.m. matchup on FSN.
Georgia enters the contest with a 5-1 overall record, including a 3-1 mark in conference play after dropping a 35-7 decision in its last outing on Oct. 6 at South Carolina. Kentucky is coming off a 49-7 loss over the weekend to Arkansas to fall to 1-6 on the year (0-4 SEC).
"Right now, I think the best thing for Georgia is to focus on getting better and focus on Kentucky," said head coach Mark Richt on Sunday evening. "We've got to get back to running the ball like we did earlier in the year. We need to get more turnovers, and we need to protect the ball a little bit better. We still have some things to clean up in special teams. We had the break right at the midpoint and with six games to go, we want to finish strong. If we can keep improving as we go, we have a chance to have some fun in the end here. We've got a ways to go, though."
After the tough loss in the team's last outing against the Gamecocks, Richt stressed the importance of the time and effort that goes into opponent preparations on a weekly basis.
"You just get the best information that you can get (about an opponent)," Richt said. "We have a four-game breakdown (of the opposing team). It's not necessarily their last four games, but it's the ones that have the most common formations, plays, and personnel groupings that will give you the best gauge of how they'll play us. No matter who they played last week, you still have to study real hard to see who's there and who isn't, and then you make your plans based on that."
When describing the loss to South Carolina last week, Richt noted the ways in which the Bulldogs varied their typical game plan slightly to adjust for the strengths of the South Carolina defense.
"We did a couple of things differently in the South Carolina game because of their edge pass rushers," Richt said. "They really have three good pass rushers there. You want to help your tackles out, so we did things a little differently there in pass protection, too. We may have spent too much time and scheme on that where we should have maybe just done what we did all year long. We probably should have stayed with our run game a little more than we did, but South Carolina made the plays early in the game and got the lead, and we probably just didn't stick with that inside run game as much as we should have done."
With wide receiver Michael Bennett suffering a torn ACL in practice prior to the South Carolina game, Richt noted the impact of the remaining receivers stepping up in Bennett's absence.
"I think (wide receiver) Chris Conley has been playing well, but the ball just hasn't come to him quite as much this year," Richt said. "Marlon Brown was in and out last year, and (Rantavious) Wooten didn't play last year. We had a situation where Malcolm Mitchell pulled a hamstring and was out for a bit, so that might have been why we decided to play Chris (more last year). This year, he's still getting a pretty good amount of reps, but just not as many balls have come to him while he's been in. But with Michael out, it may be that Chris now gets more opportunities."
Just as many of the players used this weekend to relax and take a bit of a mental break from football, Richt also found time to relax by watching his son, Jon, play football. As the quarterback for Mars Hill College, Jon led his team to a 35-28 victory over Catawba College on Saturday evening, and the entire Richt family was in attendance at the game.
"Jon's game went great, and he played well," Richt said. "They won, and he set school records in attempts, completions, and passing yardage, so it was fun. It was a beautiful day, perfect weather, and it was probably the last time I'll get to see him play college ball in person, so it was a great evening with the whole family."