Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo would prefer the Bulldogs don‚Äôt have a single turnover against LSU‚Äôs opportunistic defense Saturday in the Southeastern Conference Championship game, but he‚Äôs given his players some advice just in case they do.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt want them to score,‚Äù Bobo told them. ‚ÄúYou better cover and get that guy on the ground.‚Äù
That‚Äôs probably sound advice considering that LSU‚Äôs defensive backs have accounted for six touchdowns this season, the same number opponents have thrown against them.
Tyrann Mathieu ‚Äî the ‚ÄúHoney Badger‚Äù ‚Äî 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.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôll get the ball if you leave it out there for him,‚Äù said Georgia freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
Some Georgia coaches have warned their players this week in practice about watching out for the ‚ÄúHoney Badger,‚Äù even using that nickname. Receiver Michael Bennett preferred to call him simply by his given name.
‚ÄúYou really have to protect the ball when you have the ball in your hands,‚Äù Bennett said. ‚ÄúI saw a play where he stripped the ball right from a West Virginia guy. Just took it from him‚Äù
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‚Äôs closed practice that he was ‚Äúin a very agreeable mood right now,‚Äù after spotting the hot chocolate he often delights in after coming in from the cold.
When he was asked about the Bulldogs‚Äô tailbacks, particularly Isaiah Crowell and Richard Samuel, Richt opted out.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to talk about tailbacks,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúI really don‚Äôt. Let‚Äôs 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.‚Äù
Crowell practiced Monday and Tuesday after missing the Georgia Tech game with a sprained left ankle. Samuel, who hasn‚Äôt played the previous four games after undergoing ankle surgery Nov. 1, didn‚Äôt practice Monday and Tuesday.
Told that not talking tailbacks will get LSU wondering, Richt said ‚ÄúThat will be good. It‚Äôs our only chance.‚Äù
Tight end Orson Charles was asked if Crowell had a setback.
‚ÄúEverybody‚Äôs fine,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúEverybody‚Äôs definitely fine.‚Äù
Uniforms tried and true
Georgia won‚Äôt 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.
‚ÄúRed tops and silver britches,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúNo Pro Combats. Nobody even asked me. A couple of them we‚Äôre like, ‚ÄòDon‚Äôt do it, Coach.‚Äô‚Äù
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.
‚ÄúI thought that would be a really nice incentive,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúAs it turned out, it wasn‚Äôt much of an incentive.‚Äù
Richt said one player asked about donning the black jerseys.
‚ÄúThey think you can snap your finger and get a bunch of brand new jerseys,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúThat has to be planned out.‚Äù
Richt would rather be playing
Ten of the 12 SEC teams aren‚Äôt practicing this week. Richt knew the feeling from 2006-10 when his team didn‚Äôt make the game.
‚ÄúI hate that week,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúYou just recruit your tail off and try to hopefully use that as an advantage in recruiting.‚Äù
Richt said SEC head coaches not in the game can get tickets to the game.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve never gone,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúI would never want to go if we weren‚Äôt playing in it. You aspire to
be there and if you‚Äôre not there, it‚Äôs just not fun watching really for me.‚Äù
This and that
Defensive end DeAngelo Tyson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, but Richt said ‚Äúhe‚Äôs still got a chance‚Äù to play. He could practice today, Richt said. ‚Ä¶ ESPN‚Äôs College GameDay will air from Centennial Olympic Park Saturday. It‚Äôs the show‚Äôs fourth time at the SEC championship and 12th time originating from the site of a Georgia game.