October 25, 2010

Can the Dawgs skin the Gators?

Quarterback Aaron Murray was asked one simple question - what's it going to take for Georgia to get the better of Florida come Saturday in Jacksonville.

"We've just got to remember what it took to get to this point," Murray said after the Bulldogs' 44-31 win at Kentucky. "We've played tremendous the past three weeks, and you can give credit to our work during the weeks in practice. We've worked extremely hard. The coaches, the players, we've all be grinding. We've just got to keep it up."

The Bulldogs have a number of reasons for wanting to do exactly that.

Of course, beating the hated Gators tops them all. Georgia's lack of success against Florida has been well-documented, but the winner of Saturday 3:30 contest (CBS) stays alive in the SEC East race for at least another week.

From the Bulldogs' perspective, Georgia (4-4, 3-3) needs to beat Florida (4-3, 2-3) and BCS-leading Auburn and hope South Caroline loses two of its three remaining league games against Tennessee (Saturday), Arkansas and Florida.

But as he has maintained for over a week now, head coach Mark Richt said his team's focus on the immediate task at hand.

"We've got the mindset that we just need to focus on our preparation," Richt said during Sunday's teleconference. "We need to focus on the process of getting better. That's what started the string of victories. We ramped up the way we practiced, and the guys bought into that. We're hanging our hat on preparation more than the emotion of being back in the race."

The way Georgia's season started, the thought of the Bulldogs entering the Florida game winners of three straight and a 3-point favorite seemed pretty far fetched.

"We did a good job of staying together through the adversity," Richt said. "Our coaches and support staff did a very good job of staying unified and focused on what we could do to get better. The player-coach relationship was outstanding and the players' relationships among themselves were outstanding. … We did a nice job going through that."

Apparently the Bulldogs are also doing a better job of what it takes to be a more physically impressive team than what the players were showing earlier this year.

Wildcat coach Joker Phillips actually made comment of it during his post-game press conference.

"Georgia is one of the most physical teams that we've played this year," Phillips said.

"That's music to my ears, quite frankly," Richt said. "That's one of the things we wanted people to feel about us. We wanted to earn respect, and it sounds we did earn their respect. I want people to look at our film and say, 'These guys played in a hard, physical nature.' I thought we played hard and I thought we played physical. We're a better team than we were a month ago. I'm just thankful we're getting some wins to go with it."

In other news, Richt said Sunday that running back Caleb King will be back in the mix after serving his two-game suspension.

"I can't think of any reason why he won't get back in the mix," Richt said. "He's played pretty well this season and he's improved in a lot of areas. We are confident in his ability to play. I don't know how many carries he'll get. We'll observe all the guys during practice this week. Once a young man carries out his discipline, he's back in good standing with us. We'll give him as many reps as we think he deserves based on his practice."

NOTES: Richt is expected to announce Tuesday whether or not cornerback and punt returner Branden Smith (concussion) will be available for the Florida game. Smith has missed the last three games, but has been rehabbing with team trainer Ron Courson.

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