Don't get Georgia coach Mark Richt wrong. He's very grateful that his Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in the country. But just because his team occupies the proverbial catbird's seat, Richt said after Wednesday's workout that he's not going to waste his time worrying about where the Bulldogs sit in the polls.
"I'm not sitting here thinking we're No. 1; we've got to keep our ranking," Richt said. "We've got to get better. We've got to start out, play the best we can play and find out where our weaknesses are. We've already got some that we know about. We've just got to keep getting better and better and better and hope that we're good enough to stay in the race."
As cliché as it might sound, Richt's only focus is on the Eagles; so forth and so on.
"Right now I just want to beat Georgia Southern. That's all I'm really thinking about. After that we'll move onto Central Michigan," Richt said. "After that we'll move to conference play and think about how meaningful that first conference game is going to be towards our opportunity to try and win the East."
Talk of staying in the running for a potential national championship won't even cross his mind.
"The national championship is really and truly out of our hands. Even if we win every game there's no guarantee," Richt said. "We might win the first two games and be fourth in the country. That could happen easily, you know? And I'm not worried about any style points. I just want to win. I'm just trying to win."
Ball, Weston out
With the opener now just two days away, it appears that redshirt freshman defensive Neland Ball (hamstring) and defensive tackle Kade Weston won't be ready to suit up against Georgia Southern.
"Neland probably won't make it for this game as we don't think he'll be quite healthy enough, but we're hoping Monday he'll be able to go," Richt said. "Whether he'll play next week, I won't predict that but I'm sure we'll try to work him in as long as nothing else happens."
Weston is also out with a sprained MCL, although wide receiver Walter Hill (broken hand) is expected to be available to play.
Mike Bobo said staff continuity is the main reason he feels a lot more comfortable as he enters his second full season as the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator.
"I'm working with the same guys with the exception of Coach (John) Lilly," Bobo said. "As a staff we've changed the system a little bit last year and we were together for a whole year and through spring practice. We're more comfortable in what we're trying to do and working out the finer coaching points on each particular play. I think that's been the easier adjustment."
That's not to say he still doesn't feel the same butterflies he did two seasons ago, even though he's got a deep cache of offensive talent with which to work with. Complacency will never be part of his makeup.
"I'm nervous about this first game," Bobo said. "You try to get your players in the best position where they will be successful but they've still got to go out and do it on Saturday. There's never been a game were I'm thinking 'Oh, we've got this thing in the bag."'
Evans thrilled with preseason
Junior defensive back Bryan Evans said he's enjoyed the best camp of his three years with the Bulldogs and last year's disappointing start to the 2007 campaign is just a memory.
"It's been great," Evans said. "I feel like I've gotten a lot accomplished."
Apparently so. When the depth chart for Saturday's game was released, Evans was listed as the starting wide corner ahead of junior Prince Miller.
But truth be told, both players could wind up starting against the Eagles, who like many of Georgia's opponents, operate out of the spread. When that happens, look for the Bulldogs to open in the nickel defense with Evans assuming the role as starting nickel back with Miller opening at wide corner.
"It keeps you on your toes knowing there's somebody else who could start, but it's good for both of us," Evans said. "Both of us are starting if we're going with the nickel, so basically it adds up the same amount of plays anyway."
Eagles still undecided at QB
With Saturday's opener a matter of days away, Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher still hasn't decided who his starting quarterback will be against the Bulldogs.
His choices are down to two – former Greater Atlanta Christian standout Lee Chapple, along with Ohio State transfer and former Peach County star Antonio Henton.
"If we were home I'd have the stadium announcer introduce both of them as starters," Hatcher told the Savannah News-Press.
Bulldogs are not totally unfamiliar with the pair. Richt said he recalls both Chapple and Henton attending football camp at Georgia.
"We're going into the game thinking two guys over one guy," Henton told the News-Press. "(Hatcher) sat us both down and said to be ready."
This and that
There will be a video tribute to Uga VI at approximately 12:15 Saturday, followed at 12:19 by the introduction of Georgia's new mascot, Uga VII. … Assistant Jon Fabris said he has not decided on a punt returner for Saturday's game. "I probably won't know until kickoff," stated Fabris, who said he's been working 12 different players at the position. Fabris also said he has made no decisions as to who will start at defensive end. … Richt said he still hopes to go to the Georgia Dome Saturday night to watch Alabama and Clemson although nothing is set in stone. Richt's oldest son John is a true freshman with the Tigers, and is expected to dress out despite redshirting this year. .. Dawg Walk Saturday has been set for 10:45.