October 21, 2012

No repeat performance



Georgia coach Mark Richt doesn't need any reminding about what happened the last time his Bulldogs found themselves facing a highly-ranked program in a big-time game.

"We want to play better, that's for sure. It's a big game," Richt said during Sunday night's teleconference with reporters.

When the Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1) and Florida (7-0, 5-0) meet Saturday in Jacksonville (3:30, CBS), there's a lot more on the line than yearly bragging rights between the two arch-rivals.

A win by the Gators will wrap up the SEC East while the Bulldogs, should they upset Will Muschamp's squad, would control their own destiny for a return trip to the Georgia Dome and the SEC title game.

Yes, it's going to be a big deal and Richt doesn't want his team to forget it.

"Nobody's going to be able to act like it's not a big game or have it be something different than what it is," Richt said. "If Florida wins it, I think they clinch it. If we win, we've still got some work to do. Both teams are going to want to win badly; we've just got to prepare well and play well."

Richt was asked by a reporter from a Florida newspaper if he and the team felt "devastated" following their loss to the Gamecocks.

"I don't think we were devastated. Devastation is damage beyond repair. We weren't happy about it, that's for sure. We were upset about what happened, but we also knew there was a lot of football still to be played," Richt said. "If we would get back to business, there would be a good chance we could get back in the race. It turned out it happened relatively quickly. The reality was when we played South Carolina we controlled our destiny. The next game we played was Kentucky and by the time we kicked off we were actually in the same spot. We know what this game means for us and for Florida. Our guys are excited to play this game and have it mean as much as it means right now. "

But if Georgia wants to hand the Gators their first loss of the year, something's going to have to change.

Topping the list is Georgia's effort against the run, which has been lacking to say the least, including Saturday night's 29-24 win over Kentucky which rushed for 202 yards against the Bulldogs.

"Defensively, the majority of the issue was third-down runs, third and long situations where they ran the ball in what we considered a more passing-stop defense," Richt said. "At that point you've got to defeat a block and make a play and we didn't do a good job of doing that."

Unfortunately for Georgia, running the football is something Florida does very well.

Running back Mike Gillislee is one of the top rushers in the SEC with 139 carries for 652 yards and seven touchdowns, while quarterback Jeff Driskel has rushed for 321 yards while throwing for 929 yards and eight more scores.

"There's the threat of the pass (with Florida), but if you can't stop the run, you're done. If you can't slow it down, you're done, so our goal has got to be to try to get everybody we play in third-and-long situations to get them off the field," Richt said. "The longer the yardage is on third down, the better chance you have of getting a stop."

This and that

Richt sounded a bit more optimistic about the status of Jarvis Jones who missed the Kentucky game with a sprained ankle he suffered against South Carolina, adding that there would not be a deadline to determine whether or not he would play. I don't think there will be deadline, but I hope he'll be able to practice as early as Monday. I hope. Whether or not that happens, I don't know but he has been making progress and I think there's a very good chance he will play," Richt said. "But if he's not healthy enough to go, we're not going to do it. But I think there's a good chance that he will." … Richt wasn't nearly as optimistic about the status of defensive end Abry Jones who re-injured his left ankle Saturday. "It's the same ankle but a different injury, a different type of injury," Richt said. "Right now he's out, but we hope to know more (Monday,) but right now I think there's a good chance that he will be out." If Jones is out, Richt said he will be looking to sophomore Ray Drew to fill some of the void. … Georgia moved up to 10th in this week's BCS Standings.