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Georgia coach Mark Richt knew this was going to be a difficult week for Tammy Mettenberger, one of the administrative assistants who works in the Bulldog football office.
As the mother of LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, it's easy to understand why.
So, to avoid any added stress, Richt said Sunday that Tammy Mettenberger will take a week-long break, something he said was probably best for all concerned.
"She loves her son, obviously, but it would be awkward to be around all week," Richt said. "She won't be in this week and I told her to enjoy it, go have fun and do some things you normally wouldn't do this time of the year. We've been knowing Zach since he was a very young kid. We all really like Zach and want the best for him but we want to win the game this weekend; that's the only thing that's a little different."
Mettenberger's return has already been and will continue to be a big focus for Saturday's 3:30 game (CBS), but Richt said he won't be worried about any homecoming with Georgia's former quarterback
The ninth-ranked Bulldogs (2-1, 1-0) are more concerned with beating the six-ranked Tigers (4-0, 1-0).
"I won't bring it up, other than try to defend the quarterback who happens to be Zach Mettenberger. We're not going be worried so much that he's Zach Mettenberger as we are that he's 6-5 230-whatever and can sling it," Richt said. "We just want to do the best we can to defend him and defend their offense but I'm not going to get into anything other than he's an opponent that we're trying to defend."
In some way, Richt said Mettenberger hasn't changed a bit.
"There's a lot of things that are similar, like his physical size and his ability to throw the ball. We had him in some summer camps when he was barely in high school. We knew he was going to have a big-league arm, so he still has that," Richt said. "Obviously he's gotten better over time but he seems very confident right now, he's playing on a great team with some great backs and receivers. He's got some strong linemen up front and I'm sure he's benefiting from his new coordinator and a great defense."
But as Richt is quick to point out, the Tigers are hardly the Zach Mettenberger show.
With one of the league's top running backs in Jeremy Hill, a big, physical offensive line and solid receivers, LSU has plenty of areas that will pose a huge threat.
"They're not going to try and trick you, they'll try to maul you. They'll try to create some good matchups for their great receivers," Richt said. "Mett can sling it and they're very balanced at what they do. They do both equally well."
Defensively, Richt has tremendous respect for defensive coordinator John Chavis, who has met with success at virtually every stop in his coaching tour.
"He's just really sound, solid, fundamental football coach. His guys know what to do and they're playing hard," Richt said. "He's been able to attract good players since he's been there. When he was at Tennessee he attracted great players that wanted to play for him, so it's been a combination of great players and great coaching."
While the Tigers may not be fancy defensively, Richt said they don't have to be.
"When you think about it, what do most coaches say when they have a bad game or if things don't go well? What do they go back to? They go back to fundamentals, learn how to tackle better, learn how to do things better, play with low pad level, use your hands better, gap control," Richt said. "Things that meant something 20-30 years ago still mean something today, pursuing the ball, taking the proper angle, just being where you're supposed to be, keeping your eyes open, things that are important and not to get confused by a bunch of window dressing. All those things that people think is old school is just mandatory to have a good defense. He's a great teacher of it."
Georgia, meanwhile, will spend the week trying to correct some of the special team issues that hurt the Bulldogs in their 45-21 win over North Texas.
That included a 99-yard kickoff return and a blocked punt that the Mean Green were able to recover in the end zone for a touchdown.
"Obviously we can't give up the big play, we can't give up points like that. You want the normal things, you want to be able to flip field position when you punt, do a good job of covering kicks which we didn't do a very good job on with that one kick," Richt said. "We'd really covered kicks well all year along until that one. You might think it's broken but it's really not, we've just got to go back to doing what we've been doing all year long."
NOTES: Georgia remained No. 10 and No. 9 in the USA Today/Coaches and Associated Press Top 25, respectively.
Richt said he hopes tight end Jay Rome will be able to go Saturday after re-injuring his ankle against North Texas. "He basically got hit on the ankle that was already sore," Richt said. "I don't even know if he rolled it again. I think it just got hit. We'll just see how he does tomorrow. We're not counting him out for the game, but I just don't know how effective he'll be tomorrow. We'll just have to wait and see."
On Sunday, some Bulldog took to Twitter to propose that the team wear its black jerseys against LSU. Richt wasted no time poo-pooing that idea. "We will not be wearing black jerseys," Richt said.
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