October 28, 2010

'Nobody has to say anything'

For anyone concerned that Georgia, for whatever reason, might not be focused on or fretting about Saturday's game against Florida, tight end Bruce Figgins said not to worry.

"Nobody has to say anything," Figgins said about the Bulldogs' mindset as they try to snap their two-game losing streak against their hated rival to the South.

"Everyone is aware of who we have on Saturday and what this game means. It's always a little different in Florida week," Figgins said. "You see coaches coach a little harder, players play a little harder, everybody's fighting a little deeper, everybody's in the weight room getting their extra reps to do what they need to do to have that extra edge."

According to Figgins, the focus has been such that the team is barely mentioning the fact that the Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3) are still in the chase for the SEC Eastern Division crown.

They just know, if they don't beat the Gators (4-3, 2-3) come Saturday (3:30, CBS) in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, such thoughts won't matter anyway.

The Bulldogs have been installed as a 3-point favorite by some odds-makers.

"I just think we got to keep ourselves focused on the task at hand, and that's going out and getting the win," Cornelius Washington said. "We don't need to be worrying about what other people are thinking. I'm glad they think we're going to win but at the end of the day it come out to us going out and perform to get the victory."

After a 1-4 start, such thoughts seemed impossible.

But after some self-evaluating by head coach Mark Richt and his decision to start practicing the ones against the ones in what's now being termed "Bloody Tuesday" the Bulldogs appear to have regained their lost bite.

Offensive lineman Clint Boling doesn't think it's a coincidence.

"I think it's been a big difference, ever since Coach Richt put that in. At first I think a few people were wondering what was going on, they weren't ready for change, but obviously it's working right now," Boling said. "We're playing a lot more physical, a lot tougher; we're just a better football team right now."

Boling added there's nothing like having your manhood challenged to make a player wake up and start doing the right things.

"That's up there, because anytime somebody questions your toughness you want to go back out there and prove them wrong," Boling said. "That's one of the things Thomas Davis told us when he talked to us. He said people were calling us soft, and he challenged us to go out there and hit hard, play tough and be physical and since then I think we've been doing that."

Ironically, concerns over practice habits are some of the words now being heard out of the Florida camp, a fact Gator coach Urban Meyer confirmed earlier this week.

Saturday's contest does feature two teams that appear headed in opposite directions.

While Georgia has won three straight games, the Gators have dropped three in a row to Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State.

But just because the Gators appear to be struggling, Figgins stressed the Bulldogs can't take them lightly.

"I think no matter what the record is between the two teams it's always very special just because it is Georgia-Florida," Figgins said. "It's the same excitement no matter what the records are."

Figgins said that excitement was evident during the Bulldogs' first practice of the week on Monday afternoon.

"You could feel it coming off a good win against Kentucky, especially away which was great for us, great for the team," Figgins said. "It's just that excitement, it's just that feeling. I'm sure Florida has that same feeling for us; just that feeling that you're ready for Saturday. You're ready to start practice and looking forward to the game."

So what would a victory over the Gators mean?

"Oh man, it would be just another step toward turning our season around," wide receiver A.J. Green said. "We took a major step last week winning one on the road; this game would be another major step to try and get to Atlanta."

For seniors like Boling, it means a little bit more.

"It would be huge for us. Not only for the way the season was going, but just mentally, especially for me being a senior," he said. "We haven't played very well the last two years, so we really want to get after them and get this win."


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