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Will the Bucs Really Be a Breather for the Bulldogs?

by PATRICK GARBIN, DawgTime Beat Writer

Following Georgia’s (8-2, 6-2 SEC) 34-to-7 thumping of Auburn at Sanford Stadium last Saturday, the 9th-ranked Bulldogs remain at home for seemingly a breather against Charleston Southern (8-3, 3-2 Big South) of the FCS. Coach Mark Richt stressed at Tuesday’s press conference that the Bulldogs could not, and would not, look past CSU; the Buccaneers nearly defeated Vanderbilt earlier this season. Nevertheless, Saturday afternoon should be a good opportunity for many Dogs to see playing time, while likely benefiting with a tune up before the regular-season finale against Georgia Tech.

Sadly, Georgia fans have probably seen the last of superstar Todd Gurley, who tore his ACL against Auburn and seems most likely to jump to the NFL before his senior campaign of 2015. Regardless, depending on the results of SEC East-leading Missouri’s final two games, the Bulldog Nation could still have a lot to look forward to, like a trip to the SEC Championship and possibly beyond.

When the Dawgs Have the Ball: While Georgia’s running game has garnered all the attention in 2014, quarterback Hutson Mason has been assembling a fine season. Through 10 games, the fifth-year senior has thrown 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions; his 150.6 passer rating ranks 17th in the nation, while 67.6 completion percentage is tops in the SEC.

Hopefully, Mason and his fellow starters won’t have to play much past halftime against CSU, when they can relax and look forward to the Tennessee-Missouri game that night. A win by the Volunteers, who are currently a slight favorite over the Tigers, would clinch the SEC East for the Bulldogs.

“It’ll be nice to sit down and watch the [Tennessee-Missouri] game,” Mason said when asked about his post-game plans. “Tennessee is fun to watch…I think it’ll be a really good match up and [Knoxville] is a tough place to play at night.”

As far as Mason’s roommate—receiver Michael Bennett—there’s no doubting where his allegiance lies: “I may paint a ‘T’ somewhere and run through it. Me and Hutson will definitely be cheering [Tennessee] on.”

Prior to rooting on the Volunteers, Georgia must encounter a CSU defense which ranks first in the Big South Conference in total defense (302.5 yards) and first in rushing defense (128.8 yards). Notably, the Buccaneers held Vanderbilt to 21 points and 295 total yards.

When the Bucs Have the Ball: As good as CSU has demonstrated stopping the run is the Bucs’ ability to do the running. Averaging more than 230 rushing yards per game and five yards per carry, they feature three backs who have each gained between 425 and 875 yards on the season. This excludes quarterback Austin Brown who, besides passing for 1,833 yards and 11 touchdowns, has rushed for 249 yards and five scores.

Still, CSU’s ground game must face a Georgia defensive unit which recently held one of the nation’s best rushing offenses in Auburn in check.

“We went out there [against Auburn] and did what other teams were not able to do and what we haven’t done all year against the run,” linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “It was great. Everybody did their job and everybody was in the right spot and didn’t try to do other people’s jobs.”

Currently, the Bulldogs are holding opponents to a respectable low of 4.9 yards per offensive play. Entering this season, only one of Georgia’s previous six defensive units (2008-2013) held its opposition to an average of less than five yards per play.

“It’s hard to explain [in evaluating this season’s defense],” defensive end Sterling Bailey stated. “This defense is just something different. The coaching staff that we brought in, they believe in us. It’s starting to show.”

Special Teams: Something else for Georgia that is “just different” this year than before are the Bulldogs’ vastly improved return units. Last season, Georgia averaged a lowly 2.9 yards per punt return, surpassing the previous all-time program low of 3.8 established in 1957, and just 18.6 yards per kickoff return. On the contrary, the Bulldogs are averaging 12.1 yards per punt return and 23.8 yards per kickoff return this season, ranking 20th and 21st, respectively, out of 125 FBS teams.

Georgia’s foremost returner is true freshman Isaiah McKenzie, who is averaging 14 yards per punt return and 30 yards per kickoff return, and has scored three touchdowns off returns.

DawgTime Tidbits:
* Since NCAA Division I football reclassified to Divisions “I-A” and “I-AA” in 1978, Georgia has a 15-0 record against I-AA/FCS opponents, averaging a 45-to-11 final score.

* Hutson Mason’s interception percentage of 1.35% this season (3 INT in 222 attempts) is currently second-best in UGA single-season history, barely trailing David Greene’s 1.33% in 2004 (4 INT in 299 attempts).

* During the Coach Richt era (2001 to present), Georgia has entered 11 games favored by 35 or more points, including versus Troy this season; although the Bulldogs won all 11 games rather easily, just three times did they cover the point spread (including against Troy).

DawgTime Prediction: A couple of days ago, Coach Richt claimed, “[CSU is] physical. They’re well coached. … You can see on film when a team is believing and these guys are believing. They’re going to be a great opponent for us this weekend.”

“Great opponent”? Yes, perhaps, but not for long on Saturday against a big-time FBS program. The Buccaneers might contend at first, but Georgia wins—and wins big—in the end, 45 to 10. Several hours later, while the Dawgs cheer them on, the Tennessee Volunteers defeat the Missouri Tigers by 10 points, sending the Bulldogs to the Georgia Dome in early December for the third time in the last four seasons.

Richt Says Team’s “Tail Ready For A War” Against CSU & Black Jerseys In Squad’s Future

by PATRICK GARBIN, DawgTime Beat Writer

ATHENS—Fresh off an impressive 34-7 victory over rival Auburn and with a meeting looming against FCS-opponent Charleston Southern this Saturday, head coach Mark Richt faced the media this afternoon in a cheerful mood. The Georgia head coach even appeared upbeat when asked about his team without—again—Todd Gurley, whose Bulldog career most likely came to a complete end after suffering a torn ACL against the Tigers.

“We basically know who’s healthy or not healthy, or who’s eligible to play or who’s not eligible to play,” Richt began regarding how his offense copes in Gurley’s absence, “and we get those guys ready to play. We keep marching on.”

Richt interestingly indicated today that if he was beginning his coaching career again as an assistant, he’d want to coach offensive linemen. The head Bulldog had high praise for those upfront who had blocked for Gurley and his fellow backs in 2014—the unsung offensive line unit, which although often unrecognized individually, has been outstanding thus far this season.

“If we just keep doing our job the way we’ve been doing it right now, people can talk about [Aaron] Chubb, [Brendan] Douglas, and Sony [Michel] all day long—give them all the credit,” junior offensive guard Greg Pyke added when asked about offensive linemen generally going unnoticed. “We know we’re doing a good job upfront.”

In regards to the “blackout” Saturday night at Sanford Stadium, where at least 90 percent of the Bulldog crowd was donned in black, Richt was asked with at least three games remaining this year—maybe as many as five—if his players might join in and wear black jerseys before the season ended.

“No,” the head coach replied conclusively. “Maybe next year.”

Richt stated that his “goal” would be to have one game—a “planned event” and not a surprise unveiling—during the 2015 season when the Bulldogs would wear black jerseys. “We are Georgia. We are the red and black. It would be pretty natural for us [to wear black jerseys for one game],” he said.

The Bulldogs were also asked if facing Charleston Southern—a Division III program as recently as the 1990s and a team which endured a 15-game losing streak ending just two seasons ago—was a time to completely rest standout players, and a situation where it might be difficult to carry over the intensity from the Auburn game.

“It is a little bit difficult [to carry over the intensity], but it’s just another time to compete,” receiver Michael Bennett said. “We’re competitors and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. Charleston Southern has a good team. They’re 8-and-3 and they’re a hard, physical team.”

Since halting their 15-game losing streak in 2012, the Buccaneers have a 23-9 record, including 8-3 this season which includes a narrow 21-20 loss to Vanderbilt in early October.

“I’ve said this before and I mean it, it’s hard to beat teams that are used to winning,” Richt declared. “You can’t [completely rest standout players]. That’s why people get beat. They start thinking something different other than get your tail ready for a war.”

MRI on Todd Gurley confirms torn ACL

ATHENS———– An MRI performed Sunday on University of Georgia junior tailback Todd Gurley confirmed a torn ACL.

The injury occurred in the fourth quarter of Saturday¹s victory
over Auburn. A surgery date has not yet been determined according to UGA Director of Sports Medicine Ron Courson

Georgia Post-Game Quotes Georgia vs. Auburn

Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt

“Overall thoughts on the win…
“It was a great night. The fans were spectacular, the students were ready, the Dog Walk was everything we hoped for, the band was great, and it took everybody to have this kind of performance. We were hoping we could be energized by our fans and that we could energize our fans by our play, and that’s what happened. The crowd was primed for a great night. There’s just something electric about a home game under the lights in November. We made memories together. That’s about as much fun as I’ve had as coach at Georgia, and it’s because of our fans and the players involved.”

On Auburn’s first drive and the rest of its drives…
“On the first drive, they converted some third downs and we could not get off the field. It’s so hard to stop them when it’s third-and-3 or less. After that, we did a little bit better job on first down and some penalties got them in trouble and behind the yardage. On third-and-long, we could pin our ears back and get after them a little bit.”

On Georgia’s first possession of the game…
“We knew it was a long game and sometimes it doesn’t always go the way you want. We had the penalties on the kickoff return and the fake punt and you hate to have those calls. But the players knew we as a staff were going to be aggressive and they fed off that.”

On deciding not to kick a field goal and scoring a touchdown…
“I was really indecisive about what to do. I was going to kick it, but the play clock was winding down and we were about to get a delay, so I called the timeout. I asked Coach (Mike) Bobo if we went for it what play he liked. He explained the play and had faith in it, so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ It turned out to be big for us. The guys loved it; they all wanted to go for it. If it doesn’t work, it’s a bad thing. But it was a good play and it was executed very well. We hammered it in and it showed we were serious about winning this game tonight.”

On Georgia’s running game…
“We feel like we can run the ball well. We have a great line and backs who are big, physical beasts. … Todd (Gurley) played fantastic. You could hear the way the crowd responded when his name was called with the starters. He played well and inspired his teammates. … (Nick) Chubb is a physical back who runs with determination. He has more ability to make people miss than you’d think and he has good vision. He’s a good back, a special
back.”

QB Hutson Mason
On tonight’s game…
“Our mindset coming in was that we were going to have to score a lot of points to win. That’s just because it’s Auburn and with their offense they usually score a lot of points. For us to hold Auburn to just seven points, what a night for our defense.”

On this being a statement win…
“Absolutely. It was definitely a statement. There’s a difference between a win and sticking a knife in an opponent and we shut them down tonight.”

RB Nick Chubb
On tonight’s game…
“This was a big win. It’s a great rivalry game between Auburn and Georgia. This is my first experience and it feels great to get a big win.”

On the play of his offensive line…
“Those are some bad boys up front. They make running a lot easier for us. We couldn’t do it without them.”

ILB Amarlo Herrera
On containing Auburn’s offense…
“We just ran to the ball on every play. We practiced that way all week. We practiced with the mindset that we were going to get to the ball and we weren’t going to let them run on us.”

On this game building confidence…
“We always play with confidence. We don’t lack confidence on defense. This was a big win, though. It’s an SEC game and it put us back in the race for the SEC Championship.”

OLB Lorenzo Carter
On his playing time…
“It’s great. It’s really something with me, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins all out there at the same time. It’s pretty crazy really, but Coach Pruitt makes it work.”

On the gameplan of the defense going into the game…
“We emphasized keying in on them and running up field to set the edge. That’s what Coach Pruitt really put a big emphasis on this week in practice and we hunkered down and made plays.”

Auburn Post-Game Quotes
Georgia vs. Auburn
Sanford Stadium | November 15, 2014
Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn
On the game…
“Obviously this is a disappointing loss. Congratulations to Georgia. They have a good team. They beat us in all three phases on the night. On special teams, we sort of ran into the kicker and they scored right after that and I think that was a big play. Offensively, if we got first downs, we had holding penalties that brought them back. At the start of the third quarter, we had two drops back-to-back, which hurt the momentum. Defensively, we had trouble stopping the run. We knew Georgia is strong running team and they wore us down in the third and fourth quarters.”

On the offense….
“We didn’t get it done offensively, which I think is obvious. They have a good defense but at the same time, we have high expectations that we can get it done.”

On stopping the run…
“We played a very good running team. They are one of the best teams in the country at running the football and they got their star back.”

On moving forward…
“Anytime you get beat convincingly, as a coach, you have to try and solve the issues that you think you need to moving forward. We have to be big boys. We got it handed to us tonight. That’s uncharacteristic of this team and we have to bounce back.”

DB Jonathan Jones
On what went wrong out on the field…
“They [Georgia] brought it. In all three phases they showed up and they brought it. We’ve just got to get back to it and get better, honestly.”

On how the team will bounce back…
“You’ve got to start over. You really just have to black it out, get it out of your mind, and come back on Monday ready for a new start.”

On Georgia tailbacks Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley…
“They’re great backs. We knew we had to come in and tackle and gang tackle, but give credit to them for coming out there and running hard.”

LB Kris Frost
On what it was like playing against Gurley and Chubb…
“I mean, they’re great backs and we knew that going into the game, obviously. But it’s the SEC and we play great backs every week. They did as expected. They’re tough guys to bring down but it’s all about fitting the run and making sure everything is squared away but we didn’t do too good of a job at that tonight.”

On what played into the defense’s failures against the run…
“We had some misalignments and they came out with some stuff we haven’t seen. Pretty much they beat us up front and guys were getting up on the linebackers. They did a good job and they’re a great team.”

DL Gabe Wright
On the back-to-back losses…
“We firmly believe, even with the two losses, that we can bounce back. I can tell you that what we showed tonight is not how we’ve practiced this whole week. Collectively we had one of our best weeks of practice, no doubt about that. The energy was good but Georgia just did better or matched that and they executed
their game plan. Moving forward, we may be out of the playoff race but in all actuality there’s still so much to play for. The playoff and the national championship is the biggest, and that’s our goal, but at the same time we can’t get caught up and let another loss turn into another loss. We have Samford at home on senior
night, so we have that to look forward to. We’ve just got to address it and keep on moving forward.”

Bulldogs Bounce Back by Battering ‘Cats, 63-31

by PATRICK GARBIN, DawgTime Beat Writer

LEXINGTON—A week after the Bulldogs’ disappointing 18-point loss to Florida, while suffering through quite a history of having a “hangover effect” following double-digit losses, Georgia (7-2, 5-2 SEC) bounced back in a big way, bucking the decade-long bad trend, by throttling Kentucky (5-5, 2-5), 63-31, this afternoon in front of just over 60,000 in attendance at Commonwealth Stadium.

The 17th-ranked Bulldogs, whose 63 points were the most scored by a Georgia team against a conference foe in more than 70 years (75 vs. Florida in 1942), defeated their last three true road opponents on this season’s schedule—Missouri, Arkansas, and Kentucky—by a remarkable 26.3-point scoring margin.

In order for Georgia to rebound from its setback to the Gators, while remaining focus on its season goal to win the SEC title, it was imperative for the Bulldogs to get off to a fast start against the Wildcats on the road. And, a fast start Georgia did indeed get off to when freshman Isaiah McKenzie returned the game’s opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

“I [saw the hole] open up really quick on the right side, and once it opened up I knew I had the speed to get there,” said the speedy McKenzie regarding his opening return. “I just hit it”

For McKenize, who returned a punt for a touchdown earlier in the year against Troy, he became the first Bulldog in nearly 50 years (Kent Lawrence, 1966) to return both a kickoff and punt for a score in the same season.

Georgia’s good start turned into a tremendous one when the Bulldogs scored touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions and built a 21-0 lead. First, quarterback Hutson Mason passed for a 15-yard touchdown to Chris Conley, followed by an 18-yard scoring run by Nick Chubb.

Chubb, who finished with 170 rushing yards on only 13 carries, became just the second Bulldog true freshman in history to achieve four consecutive 100-yard rushing outings. In 1980, Herschel Walker reached four in a row, like Chubb, in games six through nine of his freshman campaign.

“I am very happy,” Chubb said of Georgia’s recent winning ways on the road. “I feel like everyone has been picking up each other’s slack, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We have also been putting up points on offense, and I feel like that is what it takes to keep winning.”

After punting on its first two offensive possessions, Kentucky’s efficient offense ran the game’s next 24 offensive plays. After a 74-yard, 16-play drive ended with a touchdown, the Wildcats recovered a misplayed kickoff, and tallied a field goal on their ensuing drive, cutting Georgia’s lead to 24-10.

Prior to halftime, Mason added touchdown passes to Malcolm Mitchell and Conley for a second time. For Mitchell, who sat out nearly all of last season and the first four games of this season with injuries, it was the redshirt junior’s first touchdown scored in two years (Georgia Southern, 2012). However, for each Georgia touchdown, Kentucky answered with a score of its own: touchdown runs by running back “Boom” Williams and quarterback Patrick Towles.

For the game, Williams rushed for 100 yards on just 10 carries. Dual-threat Towles completed 16 of 31 passes for just 139 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, while rushing for 60 yards and the touchdown on 17 carries.

With the Bulldogs having a 35-24 halftime advantage, the scoring spree continued into the third and fourth quarters, but with all of the second-half points predominantly scored by Georgia.

On the first play of the second half, Towles was intercepted by Bulldog safety Corey Moore. After four consecutive Chubb runs down to the Kentucky 10-yard line, Mason passed to tight end Jeb Blazevich for a touchdown and a 42-24 Georgia advantage.

Before taking the final quarter off, Mason was near-perfect in the first three quarters of play, completing 13 of 16 passes for 174 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.

“More practice reps and more communication,” Mason replied when asked about his spectacular passing performance. “These last three games we’ve really come out throwing the ball a lot better. It’s really helped, It’s a mixture of everything.”

Less than two minutes later, McKenzie reached another milestone in the annals of UGA football when he returned a Wildcat punt for a 59-yard touchdown. Giving Georgia a 49-24 advantage, McKenzie became the first Bulldog in history to return both a kickoff and punt for touchdowns in the same game.

Late in the third quarter, Sony Michel capped a 95-yard drive with a touchdown run from 23 yards out. The true freshman tailback, playing his first game in six weeks following an injury, rushed for 84 yards on a team-high 16 carries. Also worthy of mention was the play from Jonathon Rumph. The senior wide receiver, seeing his first action all season, caught 4 passes for a game-high 81 yards.

With Georgia leading 56-24 after three quarters, backup quarterback Brice Ramsey played almost the entire fourth quarter and directed the Bulldogs to a touchdown with just under 10 minutes remaining. The redshirt freshman completed 5 of 5 passes for 80 yards, including an 8-yard scoring toss to Blazevich.

Following Georgia’s satisfying 63-31 victory, and apparently with their loss to Florida well behind them, the Bulldogs will finish their regular season with three consecutive home games, beginning with a critical meeting with Auburn next Saturday.

“It’s going to be nice to be home,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said following the game. “It’s going to be an exciting day next week for sure. … I’m glad we had an early game today and got the victory and we can get home with a little bit of time to regroup and rest before we start getting cranked up on that plan for Auburn.”

Richt and Team Moving On Past the Gators and “Just Trying to Win Games”

by PATRICK GARBIN, DawgTime Beat Writer

ATHENS—The day after primarily receiving questions on his Monday night radio call-in show regarding Georgia’s embarrassing 38-20 loss to Florida, head coach Mark Richt immediately fielded more of the same this afternoon at his weekly press conference.

“There were two things that got us the most,” Richt said of his defense’s poor performance against the Gators. “At times when we were supposed to set the edge, and when I say ‘set the edge’ I’m talking somebody’s responsible for keeping a play from bouncing out the back. … There were times where we just got too far inside and we just allowed [the play] to bounce. … A couple of times, not as many times, but a couple of times we had issues with guys not staying in the right gap.”

Richt concluded that some of his defenders were “trying to make a play” against Florida’s ground game instead of simply “doing their job.” However, the coach stressed there were no cases of “anybody moping or giving out or giving up,” but more of an “execution issue” than anything else.

The fact that both of the Bulldogs’ two losses this season have resulted following bye weeks was brought up, prompting Richt to declare “I know,” as if this had been pointed out to him many times before the last few days. “In hind sight, yes, what can you say [on whether or not the bye weeks had negative effects],” Richt asked. “Do you revisit what we do in open dates? We’ve been doing this a certain way for quite some time now and haven’t necessarily had those [negative] results, but this year we did.”

Actually, “those results” have been happening for several years. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, Georgia is now 6-4 following a bye week; and, of the six victories, five were by a winning margin much closer than what was forecasted, so to speak (i.e., against the point spread).

During the individual player interviews, a couple of Bulldog defensive linemen—Toby Johnson and Sterling Bailey—were asked if their preparation, or at least their mindset, for the Kentucky game is altered in anyway because of the 18-point loss to the Gators: are they being coached to not let one bad loss turn into two?

“Not really,” Johnson replied. “The coaches do a really good job of keeping us humble and ready to work. It’s not going to be any different this week against Kentucky [than Florida]; just do the little things a lot better.”

Notably, in the last 10 years, Georgia has just a 9-5 record in games immediately following double-digit losses; and, of the nine victories, eight were by a winning margin much closer than what was forecasted, again, so to speak.

“No, we’ve moved past it,” Bailey said in regards to the sizable loss to Florida actually assisting the team in preparation for this Saturday. “It doesn’t weigh in moving forward towards Kentucky.”

A recent weekly press conference wouldn’t be complete without a question, or two, about Todd Gurley and his current suspension. Regarding the additional two-game suspension, Richt speculated that his star tailback wasn’t expecting to be reinstated right away. “I think he had a wait-and-see kind of attitude,” Richt said. “I’m sure it hurt when he heard that news [of his additional suspension] because I’m sure there was some hope [of being reinstated prior to the Florida game].”

Richt was then asked if he had communicated with Gurley about finishing this season “strong” upon his return for the Auburn game on November 15th: “I don’t know why we keep bringing that up. [Gurley’s] there and he’s [currently] practicing. He can’t wait to play.”

Although apparently Gurley can’t wait to play, he must wait one more game until he does so. As for his one-time backup, freshman Sony Michel, who has missed the last four games due to an injury, Richt is hopeful for his return against the Wildcats.

“[Michel] is getting there; he’s practicing,” Richt said. “We’ll know more in a couple of days, and again, we’re hopeful he can play.”

However, as for junior Keith Marshall’s status, and the chances of him being redshirted since the junior tailback has appeared in just three games in an injury-filled season, Richt had evidently been asked about this before, as well.

“I’m not even going to talk about that right now,” Richt said of Marshall possibly being redshirted. “We’re just trying to win games.”

Georgia-Florida Will Result In A Couple of “Firsts,” But Still No Gurley (For Now)

by PATRICK GARBIN, DawgTime Beat Writer

ATHENS—Less than 24 hours following a Monday practice considered “outstanding” by Mark Richt, the Bulldog head coach was asked about his team’s practice sessions leading up to this Saturday’s meeting with Florida, particularly that of tailback Todd Gurley, who remained suspended as of the noon press conference.

“We’re giving him a good bit of reps,” Richt said of Gurley. “We want to rep him to the point where if he’s able to play, he’ll be able to play well.”

Later, during the individual player interviews, Hutson Mason mentioned Georgia’s outstanding preparation, in which he contributed to what the team has been able to accomplish thus far this season.

“There’s a high maturity level on this team, and there’s a high focus level,” the senior quarterback declared. “The one thing about this team, and the difference I’ve seen over the last couple years is that we practice really well, and I think that’s why we’ve had some success so far this season.”

The Bulldogs’ defense is preparing for quarterback Treon Harris. Harris is a true freshman who came off the bench to lead the Gators to a 10-9 win over Tennessee and was responsible for both of his team’s touchdowns in Florida’s last game against Missouri.

“He hasn’t thrown the ball a lot but when he has thrown the ball, he’s hit 67 percent of his passes,” Richt said of Harris. “When he has played and when he has thrown the ball, he’s done it very well.”

This Saturday, for what it’s worth, Harris will become the first freshman quarterback in the modern era (since World War II) whose first collegiate start comes in a Georgia-Florida game. I informed Bulldog linebacker Amarlo Herrera of this historical fact, and asked if the quarterback’s inexperience alters the defense’s mindset—even the slightest.

“We’re just going to go out there and play the same way we’ve been playing,” Herrera said. “None of [Florida’s] plays are going to change because [Harris] is playing. We’re just going to go out there and try to execute our [defensive] game plan.”

Another first for this Saturday—or, at least, the first time in a long time—is the fact both teams will be wearing their home, colored jerseys. The last time a Georgia-Florida game featured both teams donning solid jerseys was 1970. That same season was the last time a Georgia game against any opponent featured opposing solid jerseys (vs. Georgia Tech). Richt was asked if facing colored jerseys, while wearing them, could possibly be an issue.

“We all felt [Georgia wearing red jerseys; Florida in blue] was enough of a contrast,” Richt said. “I just think it’s enough of a contrast where we don’t need to practice it. I’m hoping our guys don’t think blue is red and the quarterback starts throwing to their guys,” the head coach added with a smile.

While some believed red versus blue jerseys wouldn’t be an issue, there were others who were not even aware of the looming change in uniform.

“Really?” Herrera asked when informed about both teams wearing solid jerseys. “I didn’t know that. That’s going to be a little weird though.”

Notwithstanding, the main question does not concern both teams wearing their home jerseys, but if a certain jersey—namely No. 3, Todd Gurley—will be seen in Jacksonville running against the Gators. As of Tuesday evening, there was still no word on Gurley; he remained suspended. However, from what we hear, don’t be surprised if there is news regarding the star tailback as early as tomorrow.

What Bulldog Back Does Yoga, and NCAA to Make Ruling on Gurley This Week?

by PATRICK GARBIN, DawgTime Beat Writer

ATHENS—Coming off one of the greatest road victories of the Mark Richt era at Missouri and with a tough game at Arkansas looming, the Bulldogs’ head coach and his players were still fielding questions at Tuesday’s press conference/interviews—and not surprisingly—about the status of the best Bulldog player of them all, Todd Gurley.

“I’ll answer that like I’ve been answering any Gurley questions, and that’s to say, I really don’t know,” said Richt when asked if he thought Gurley would ever play again at Georgia.

Richt admitted that Gurley “got some reps yesterday” in practice after serving what has thus far been a one-game “indefinite suspension” as UGA investigates whether or not the star tailback was paid to sign memorabilia.

Gurley was seemingly not even needed in Saturday’s 34-0 thrashing over the 23rd-ranked Tigers, while his suspension—one every Bulldog hopes is lifted very soon—might have actually helped Georgia in a way.

“We couldn’t think about [Todd’s suspension], we just needed to bond together as a team and I’m really proud of how everybody bonded together,” tight end Jay Rome said. “We are not a one-man team, so we had a chip on our shoulder.”

Proving Georgia wasn’t a one-man team in Columbia, Mo., was Gurley’s backup, freshman Nick Chubb. Against Missouri, Chubb rushed for 143 yards on a whopping 38 carries; only legendary Herschel Walker (four times) and Verron Haynes (once) carried the ball more times in a single game in UGA history. Besides the status of Gurley, a better question might be if Chubb could carry the running load against Arkansas as he did only a few days ago.

“I asked [running backs coach] Bryan McClendon about [Chubb’s health/fitness after Missouri game] and he said that Sunday he came in and lifted, and ran, and did a little bit of yoga,” Richt said. “When he was done, he felt good. Yesterday at practice, he looked good.”

On the other side of the ball for this Saturday, the Bulldog defenders will be facing a massive offensive line—one which averages more than 328 pounds per starter, or even larger than the heaviest starting offensive line in the NFL (San Diego Chargers, 324.0 pounds per starter). The Razorbacks’ “Hogs” up front have paved the way for Arkansas to average an SEC-best 278.7 rushing yards per game, while allowing an SEC-low five sacks all season.

“We know they’re going to run the ball,” said defensive end Sterling Bailey. “It’s going to be a good test for us, a good challenge, to see how far we have come and how much we can improve.”

If the victory over Missouri is any evidence, Georgia’s defense has come a long way and has improved significantly since earlier this season. Still, on this day interviewing Richt and his players, the line of questioning seemed to primarily focus on the player who didn’t even play against the Tigers, while little else is apparently known about the player’s status going forward.

“I just don’t have any answer for that,” said Richt when asked if he anticipated hearing any news on Gurley’s situation. “If there’s something worthy of reporting, we’ll report it.”

Later, Hutson Mason was asked if he had any news on the Gurley situation. Mason, who claimed he doesn’t use social media, said everything he hears is from other players, who see it on social media. However, the quarterback curiously added, “The only thing I know is that the NCAA said that they are going to make a ruling this week on [Gurley’s] eligibility.”

When a member of the media said to Mason that the NCAA making a ruling this week was certainly news—it was the first time any of us had heard that before—and then asked if another player had informed him of that, Mason agreed, but then added, “I may be wrong… I don’t know.”

Who Else Will Wear No. 19, and Gurley Has A Girlfriend?

by PATRICK GARBIN, DawgTime Beat Writer

ATHENS—Shortly after breaking down this Saturday’s opponent—the Missouri Tigers—during his Tuesday press conference, Coach Mark Richt fielded questions regarding the most recent defensive back to no longer be a member of the Georgia Bulldogs, cornerback Shaquille Jones.

Jones, a true freshman from Merritt Island, Florida, was arrested Sunday afternoon and charged with misdemeanor theft after having allegedly stolen $43 worth of auto supplies from an Athens Wal-Mart. He was immediately dismissed from the team following the arrest.

“I would say there is accumulation of things,” stated Richt when asked if Jones was dismissed for the single incident, or had he gotten in trouble before. “All of these things (like player dismissals) are based on a lot of factors. So would I say it was just that one factor? No, it was not.”

During the individual player interviews, another defensive back no longer playing for Georgia was discussed. However, this particular ex-Bulldog, freshman Rico Johnson, was declared medically disqualified last week due to a neurological condition. In his honor, cornerback Devin Bowman wore Johnson’s jersey No. 19 against Vanderbilt.

“Rico’s actually my cousin, and I’m probably going to wear [No. 19] a few times [this season],” said senior safety Corey Moore when asked if any other member of the secondary will wear Johnson’s number. “Rico’s a great kid on and off the field. … I don’t know when, but I’m going to wear [No. 19].”

Also against the Commodores, Georgia featured three quarterbacks—Hutson Mason, Brice Ramsey, and Faton Bauta—for the second time in three games. All three signal callers played in the first half; backup Ramsey appeared in a few series. Despite the recent shuffling of quarterbacks—each with their own unique playing style—the Bulldog offense has apparently found it not difficult to adjust each passer.

“There are certain plays scripted for certain [quarterbacks],” said receiver Michael Bennett when asked about handling the quarterback rotation. “You know the strengths and weaknesses of all the quarterbacks, so your mindset changes for each—cut a route short [for one], run a little deeper [for another], or something similar.”

Of course, according to Richt, the Bulldogs’ shuffling of quarterbacks is far from a “rotation.” “I wouldn’t call it a rotation,” Richt declared. “I would say that even last week we were committed to let Brice play a series in the first half. That was kind of it. … [Instead of a rotation] it was just more of an opportunity to get Brice’s feet wet.”

Finally, one of the three quarterbacks—starter Mason—was asked about playing alongside perhaps the current favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, Todd Gurley.

“I’m trying to help [Gurley] figure out the best gift to get his girlfriend for her birthday, let alone he’s the frontrunner for the Heisman,” Mason said.

So, Hutson, you’re saying Todd has a girlfriend?

“I may have gotten him in trouble, I don’t know,” Mason responded with a laugh.