Tomorrow when we all kick back to watch another day of college football, there won’t be any Georgia Bulldogs on your TV. The team will get another week to prepare for Florida down in Jacksonville.
During this time off the team has been trying to improve and finish strong for the final five games of this regular season. Plus, they’re trying to get some players healthy and back on the field. On Thursday, Head Coach Mark Richt had some potentially very good news regarding running back Todd Gurley.
“He did scout work, which is really all we asked him to do,” Richt said. “But, he did the fundamental work, you know the run polish and that kind of thing. He did good. I’m encouraged.”
Richt didn’t just stop there. He also delivered news that wide receiver Michael Bennett continued to run on the side, while the team went through practice and could return to work on Monday. Bennett has missed the last two games, after having a knee injury surgically repaired after the Tennessee game. Richt has maintained all along that Bennett had a real good chance of being ready for the Florida game.
On the other side of that injury coin, safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and wide receiver Chris Conley look like they’re going to be questionable for that game against the Gators. Harvey-Clemons injured his foot against Vanderbilt. However, Mark Richt is confident he’d have a better chance to return for that game than Conley would. The Dawgs upperclassmen wide receiver is still dealing with an ankle injury he sustained at the end of that loss in Nashville.
Another point of emphasis for the Bulldogs during this week off has been a look at their defense and special teams. Richt says he’s encouraged with the way defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s group played against Vanderbilt.
“I think they know in their heart they got a stop when they needed to get the stop,” Richt said. “I think everybody see’s the improvement. I think everybody is building off of that.”
Georgia head coach did say they needed to get a stop, even when they were faced with a short field because of two key special teams mishaps in that game. These mistakes included a muffed punt by cornerback Damion Swann and then a high mishandled snap on a punt in the fourth quarter.
Which leads to the other point of emphasis mentioned, the special teams. So far this season, Georgia has been in many games where they had a punt blocked, muffed, or the snap was mishandled. This to go along with a kickoff returned for a touchdown in the North Texas game. Not to mention the field goal snap being mishandled in the Clemson game. That was a field goal try that would have tied the game. Mark Richt thinks the solution is simple… Make the play!
“If we just field the punt, snap the ball, and catch the snap which you just think would be fairly elementary,” Richt said. “I don’t think we’d be talking about our special teams as much as we have been.”
As it stands at the moment, Georgia is 57th in total defense according to NCAAFootball.com. However, they are 30th in punt returns. Because, when Collin Barber has been able to punt it away, his team has been able to cover and make the tackle for minimal yardage.
As it stands right now, Georgia still has a mathematical chance to get to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. They would have to win out and have Missouri lose this weekend to South Carolina and then lose two more SEC games. Even if the Gamecocks and Bulldogs have the same record of two losses, UGA would have the tiebreaker by virtue of the win. So, Georgia Fans this weekend it’ll be one of the few times to cheer for the “Ol’ Ball Coach’s” guys.