Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo would prefer the Bulldogs don’t have a single turnover against LSU’s opportunistic defense Saturday in the Southeastern Conference Championship game, but he’s given his players some advice just in case they do.
“We don’t want them to score,” Bobo told them. “You better cover and get that guy on the ground.”
That’s probably sound advice considering that LSU’s defensive backs have accounted for six touchdowns this season, the same number opponents have thrown against them.
Tyrann Mathieu — the “Honey Badger” — has three scores, Ron Brooks accounts for two and Morris Claiborne has one.
Mathieu, a sophomore, was named Wednesday as one of five finalists for the Walter Camp player of the year and is the only defensive player on the list.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound New Orleans native leads the SEC with six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries to go along with two interceptions.
“He’ll get the ball if you leave it out there for him,” said Georgia freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
Some Georgia coaches have warned their players this week in practice about watching out for the “Honey Badger,” even using that nickname. Receiver Michael Bennett preferred to call him simply by his given name.
“You really have to protect the ball when you have the ball in your hands,” Bennett said. “I saw a play where he stripped the ball right from a West Virginia guy. Just took it from him”
Claiborne, a junior who is projected as a top-five NFL draft pick, leads the Tigers with five interceptions, third in the SEC.
No tailback talk for Richt
Coach Mark Richt said after Wednesday’s closed practice that he was “in a very agreeable mood right now,” after spotting the hot chocolate he often delights in after coming in from the cold.
When he was asked about the Bulldogs’ tailbacks, particularly Isaiah Crowell and Richard Samuel, Richt opted out.
“I don’t want to talk about tailbacks,” Richt said. “I really don’t. Let’s just talk about something else. I was really in a good mood and then you had to ask about that thing. No more tailback questions until after the game.”
Crowell practiced Monday and Tuesday after missing the Georgia Tech game with a sprained left ankle. Samuel, who hasn’t played the previous four games after undergoing ankle surgery Nov. 1, didn’t practice Monday and Tuesday.
Told that not talking tailbacks will get LSU wondering, Richt said “That will be good. It’s our only chance.”
Tight end Orson Charles was asked if Crowell had a setback.
“Everybody’s fine,” he said. “Everybody’s definitely fine.”
Uniforms tried and true
Georgia won’t have the same look in their second game in the Georgia Dome this season that they had in the first.
There will be no repeat of the Nike Pro Combat uniforms this time around.
“Red tops and silver britches,” Richt said. “No Pro Combats. Nobody even asked me. A couple of them we’re like, ‘Don’t do it, Coach.’”
Richt promised the players before the 35-21 loss to Boise State in the opener that if they made it back to the dome for the SEC championship, he would let them wear the all-red uniforms again.
“I thought that would be a really nice incentive,” Richt said. “As it turned out, it wasn’t much of an incentive.”
Richt said one player asked about donning the black jerseys.
“They think you can snap your finger and get a bunch of brand new jerseys,” Richt said. “That has to be planned out.”
Richt would rather be playing
Ten of the 12 SEC teams aren’t practicing this week. Richt knew the feeling from 2006-10 when his team didn’t make the game.
“I hate that week,” Richt said. “You just recruit your tail off and try to hopefully use that as an advantage in recruiting.”
Richt said SEC head coaches not in the game can get tickets to the game.
“I’ve never gone,” Richt said. “I would never want to go if we weren’t playing in it. You aspire to
be there and if you’re not there, it’s just not fun watching really for me.”
This and that
Defensive end DeAngelo Tyson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, but Richt said “he’s still got a chance” to play. He could practice today, Richt said. … ESPN’s College GameDay will air from Centennial Olympic Park Saturday. It’s the show’s fourth time at the SEC championship and 12th time originating from the site of a Georgia game.