Following four straight losses, Georgia coach Mark Richt changed things up to start Tennessee week and decided to have another new wrinkle on game day on Saturday.
Instead of a light workout on the first practice of the week, players put on full pads Monday and got physical, with the first-team offense going up against the first-team defense in a spirited practice.
Then on Richt’s weekly radio show, caller “Jill in Hoschton” challenged Richt to be the one to lead the team onto the field Saturday like she said Alabama’s Nick Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney do.
“You make a good point,” Richt said. “What I’m going to do here, Jill, is I’m going to lead the pack coming out of the tunnel, OK? I hope I don’t pull a hamstring and I hope they don’t run me over.”
Richt said he’s followed the players onto the field because he wanted that to be their moment before the game.
Once the game starts, Richt wants his players to be more physical.
That’s the reason for the full pads practice, which Richt said he had never done before on a Monday. Players got a text message in the afternoon telling them what was coming.
“Certain guys will be mad at it, but like coach Richt said, ‘We’ve been doing the same thing and getting the same results,’” cornerback Vance Cuff said. “So we threw a curve ball in and tried something different. We got after it today.”
Richt usually doesn’t meet with reporters on Monday, but was made available to get the message out about the intense practice.
“We hadn’t been blocking and tackling real good, so we decided to have a little spring ball today,” Richt said. “We decided to put the pads on and get after it.”
The losers had to run after certain drills and the winners got to watch in what receiver Kris Durham called a “very emotional practice.”
“The defense won all of them,” said Cuff, who said the drills were set up for the defense to have the advantage.
The team will practice again in full pads today.
King on fumble play
If you were one of those who thought running back Caleb King fumbled on a flea-flicker with under two minutes to play against Colorado, not so, he said.
“Everybody said it was a flea-flicker,” King said, “but it was a draw play. We don’t even do a flea-flicker.”
Georgia had run the sprint draw with success on a night when King rushed for 100 yards, but he fumbled when he was hit by linebacker B.J. Beatty and Colorado recovered at its own 30.
“The whole time I had seen the man coming off the edge,” King said. “I just tried to spin before he got there and I guess the ball just wasn’t there.”
Georgia big favorite
A 1-4 record hasn’t kept oddsmakers from making Georgia a double-digit favorite Saturday.
The Bulldogs are favored by 11 1/2 points.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley was asked if it was an advantage or disadvantage going up against a team that seems down.
“What about us, though? Are we up?” asked Dooley, whose team is 2-3. “I don’t know what the answer is, and I never know until gameday. Here’s what I do know: They’re not going to stay down. It’s a proud, talented program with great coaches. We’re expecting them at their best, and that’s probably what they’ll show.”
Another early start
Georgia football fans are getting used to this by now. Another Saturday home game in the noon hour is set.
The Bulldogs’ Oct. 16 game against Vanderbilt in Sanford Stadium will kick off at 12:21 p.m.
The game will air on the SEC Network – the syndicated broadcast available on Peachtree TV in the Athens market – marking the Bulldogs’ third appearance on the network this season.
Games against La.-Lafayette (12:21 p.m.) and Arkansas (noon) already had early starts.
Saturday’s game against Tennessee is at 12:21 p.m and the Nov. 6 game against Idaho State is slated for 12:30 p.m.
No kickoff time has been announced for the Nov. 27 game against Georgia Tech, the final home game of the season.
This and that
Richt said he didn’t pull Cuff from Saturdays’ game after he got two personal fouls because Branden Smith was already out with a concussion. “Those are the two guys that had repped the most at that position,” Richt said. “I could yank him out of the game for a play or two and curse him out,” but he thought the best chance to win was to keep him at corner. … Richt was asked about the offensive playcalling on his radio show: “Mike Bobo is calling our plays and that’s the way it is right now.” … Receiver Durham was held out of contact Monday, but said he’s been told by the training staff he should be able to play Saturday after missing the Colorado game with a pinched nerve in his neck. … Richt said “there’s no doubt,” that cornerback Smith is out Saturday with his second concussion in three weeks. He also said that linebacker T.J. Stripling’s knee surgery will require six to nine months of rehabilation. … Saturday’s captains: Clint Boling, Ben Jones, Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble.