ATHENS, Ga.—When asked about the much anticipated meeting with Alabama on October 3rd, Mark Richt gave a similar answer to an inquiring member of the media this week—“I’ll talk about that next week”—to the response he gave DAWGTIME when we asked him back in the summer about facing the Crimson Tide: “Game One (Louisiana at Monroe)—that’s what we’re worried about, and getting ready for.”
The Georgia head coach’s one-game-at-a-time approach is evidently shared with the rest of the team this season. However, this attitude apparently was not maintained by all Bulldog players in previous years.
“With the way last season happened with the Florida game (Georgia entered as a double-digit favorite, but lost by 18) and everything, I feel like that was a learning experience for us,” standout senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins said this week. “With the guys we have this year, I feel like [looking ahead is] not going to be a problem this year. We’re going to make sure that we take this one game at a time and treat every opponent the same.”
The seventh-ranked Bulldogs’ opponent, Southern University, is an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) located in Baton Rouge, La., and member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Notably, for each of the previous two seasons, the Jaguars won nine games and reached the SWAC Championship Game, winning the conference title in 2013.
Still, Southern coming to Athens, although exhibiting the school’s acclaimed marching band, the “Human Jukebox,” signifies a probable poor outing against the Bulldogs on the gridiron. The Jaguars’ lone loss in three games this season was a 62-15 rout at Louisiana Tech, and they are expected this Saturday to be at least a 50-point underdog. This would be the most Georgia has been favored by since point spreads were routinely established for FBS vs. FCS games beginning in 2008:
- -45 Idaho State (2010)
- -44’ Charleston Southern (2014)
- -42 Tennessee Tech (2009)
- -41’ Florida Atlantic (2012)
- -41 Troy (2014)
- -40 Appalachian State (2013)
Nevertheless, with Southern on the docket and Alabama looming next week, according to Jay Rome, the Bulldogs are not having a difficult time staying focus for this Saturday. “We’re one week at a time,” said the senior tight end. “Anybody can beat anybody. You have to play [the game]. It’s not a video game (smiling); you can’t just simulate the game.”
As far as who is primarily responsible for keeping the Bulldogs’ minds off of Alabama, and on the task at hand, does the coaching staff assume the role, or are the senior leaders, like Jenkins, Rome, and others, responsible?
“It’s a mix of both [coaches and players],” junior receiver Kenneth Towns replied. “They all help us focus not on that game, or another game, but this week. The next week is going to happen; we just have to take care of business this Saturday.”
Totally taking care of business this Saturday means containing senior receiver Willie Quinn, who is one of the most exciting players in all of the FCS. Quinn is responsible for five touchdowns this season scored four different ways: receiving, via kickoff return, punt return, and passing. Although standing at only 5-foot-5 and merely 145 pounds, Quinn might seem easy to overlook, but he is one Jaguar the Bulldogs aren’t taking lightly.
Another aspect of Saturday’s game with the Jaguars which shouldn’t be taken lightly is the fact it’ll be Georgia’s first meeting with an HBCU. In fact, entering this season only six SEC teams, with Florida being the first only a dozen years ago, had faced a historically-black football program:
- 2003: Florida (Florida A&M)
- 2007: South Carolina (S.C. State)
- 2009: South Carolina (S.C. State), Mississippi State (Jackson State)
- 2010: Mississippi State (Alcorn State)
- 2012: Mississippi State (Jackson State), Texas A&M (S.C. State), Auburn (Alabama A&M)
- 2013: Mississippi State (Alcorn State), Kentucky (Alabama State)
Although Richt indicated this week the SEC schedules when the teams in the conference face an FCS opponent, as far as what FCS opponent is scheduled, specifically Southern for Georgia, the Bulldogs’ head coach was seemingly unaware. Therefore, DAWGTIME reached out to the one man who would know the details of the scheduling of Southern.
“I must give credit to Josh Brooks, our former Associate AD who is now the AD at Millsaps College,” said UGA athletics director Greg McGarity. “Josh was in charge of football scheduling during his time here at UGA, and brought the idea to the table.”
As far as if there were any stimulating factors in scheduling the Jaguars, like Southern being a HBCU, McGarity and company were well aware of the historical value it would provide for both schools.
“It made perfect sense for us, the date worked for SU, and they were excited to have the opportunity to play us,” McGarity said. “We did feel it would be significant to host a HBCU institution, since it had never happened [before].”
Accordingly, for fans trekking to Sanford Stadium this Saturday, they can expect a Georgia team not looking past their guests; therefore, a likely blowout victory for the Bulldogs. However, perhaps even more so than a dazzling halftime show by the visiting “Human Jukebox,” they can be excited by the fact they’ll be witnessing a first in the history of UGA football.