Dawgs Back in the Spotlight
This story originally published on DawgPost.com
Todd Gurley
Athens Banner-Herald
Posted Oct 2, 2012


ATHENS - Georgia’s game at S. Carolina will mark the 150th that Mark Richt has coached the Bulldogs.

Only seven of those previous games—none since 2008—have matched top-10 teams.

“It’s fun, it’s exciting,” Richt said Tuesday. “It’s nice to be in the middle of the college football world. A couple of years ago when we were 6-7 it wasn’t very long into that season where no one really cared what Georgia did on any given Saturday. It’s not a lot of fun, it’s not where you want to be.”

Fifth-ranked Georgia and No. 6 South Carolina will play on ESPN and will be in the spotlight earlier in the day since that network’s popular College GameDay will originate from Columbia.

“This one’s huge,” receiver Tavarres King said. “This is probably the biggest one I’ve been a part of regular season.”

Georgia hasn’t played a regular season game that was the College GameDay site since Sept. 27, 2008 in Athens against Alabama, a 41-30 Bulldogs loss.

“It’s going to be a big game on a national stage,” receiver Michael Bennett said. “Everybody’s watching. We’ve just got to show the whole nation what the Bulldogs are about.”

As of Tuesday, 447 media members had been credentialed to cover the game, according to South Carolina.

It’s high stakes in the SEC East race and national title picture with a big stage.

“This is something that you circle on your calendar in January,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said.

Both Georgia and South Carolina have No. 10 Florida still on their schedule. The Gamecocks play next week at No. 4 LSU.

“Hopefully we have bigger ones as we go through the year,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said.

Richt: Special teams getting bad rap

Richt jotted down some facts this week about Georgia’s special teams that he didn't bring with him to his weekly lunchtime news conference to preview the South Carolina game.

Turns out he didn’t need the list.

“I want to say something about special teams,” Richt said when someone posed a question about keeping the team upbeat when the special teams are “struggling.”

Richt mentioned that Georgia has blocked two punts, stopped a fake punt, had “excellent” kickoff coverage and punting that Richt is pleased with despite ranking 13th in the SEC in net punting. He said opponent’s punt return yardage has been held in check the last four games.

“I think the special teams as a whole are getting a bad rap,” he said. “Overall it’s been pretty solid.”

Georgia had trouble fielding punts with Malcolm Mitchell, prompting Richt to replace him with Rhett McGowan.

Richt talked about the positives that include Todd Gurley’s 100-yard kickoff return.

“We’re not allowing big returns,” Richt said. “We’re punting the ball high, we’re getting guys under it. We’re getting a lot of fair catches, which is outstanding. We’ve made all but one field goal, two over 50. I know our extra points have been an adventure, no doubt, we’ve got to get better at that. Kickoff return actually has been pretty solid other than the one kick where the ball ended up on the one-yard line (against Tennessee), but other than that we’ve fielded it pretty well.”

Freshman Marshall Morgan is 27 of 30 on extra points this season and has made three when the ball caromed off the upright. Richt hasn’t turned to Jamie Lindley on point afters, he said, because he hasn’t been “Mr. Automatic” either in practice.

Bulldog go five-wide

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo surprised Murray early last week when he went to a meeting room board and wrote player numbers 17, 15, 82, 12 and 26.

Murray wondered if it was the receiver depth chart. He was told it was Georgia’s new formation.

“I was like `Oh, my goodness,” Murray said.

Five receiver sets are just the latest Bulldogs offensive wrinkle

“I don’t think anybody in Georgia history has ever seen that before,” Murray said.

Bobo said he can’t remember going five wides dating back to his playing days in the 1990s. Murray said Georgia used it about a half dozen times Saturday.

Michael Bennett’s second touchdown catch last Saturday out of the formation.

“We just have a lot of playmakers at receiver and with Malcolm (Mitchell) coming over, we just want to get everyone on the field to help make plays,” Bennett said. “It’s just another dimension to our offense that defenses have to key in on.”

This and that

Defensive end Abry Jones, who was slowed by a sprained ankle against Tennessee, practiced Tuesday and “looked like he’s ready to go,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “We’ll continue to treat him and get him healthy and I think he’ll be fine on Saturday.”

Offensive lineman Hunter Long practiced Tuesday after being sidelined with a broken foot. He worked at center and guard.

Richt on Mitchell’s role now: “He’s primarily an offensive player and he’s in a state of readiness on defense.”

South Carolina right tackle Mike Matulis, who missed the Kentucky game with a sprained shoulder, did not practice Monday, but was expected to take part in practice Tuesday.


Related Stories
HD Video: Bobo talks offense and Carolina
 -by DawgPost.com  Oct 2, 2012
HD Video: Grantham talks South Carolina
 -by DawgPost.com  Oct 2, 2012
HD Video: Bennett Talks South Carolina
 -by DawgPost.com  Oct 2, 2012

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