September 27, 2011

Time to get physical

The memory of last year's game at Mississippi State still doesn't sit well with Georgia defensive end Abry Jones.

But it's the questions that he and others had to answer after its conclusion that really sticks in his craw.

There's not a single football player who likes to have their toughness questioned, but that's exactly what happened to Georgia players, after MSU appeared to physically whip the Bulldogs on both lines of scrimmage, en route to a 24-12 win at Scott Field.

Jones didn't seem too pleased when asked about it again Tuesday afternoon.

"I know it (the questions) bothered me quite a bit and I'm pretty sure it bothered the other guys," Jones said. "That's one thing you never want to be questioned about, how physical you are or how hard you play. Those are two things that should never be questioned."

But it was - and not just on the defensive side.

Georgia's offensive line was also bullied around by the MSU defensive front, something tight end Aron White said must be addressed Saturday.

No, White isn't speaking about some type of revenge - he's talking about the Bulldogs regaining the swagger he admits has been missing for much of the past two years.

"There's been a couple of games since I've been here where I feel like we got physically outplayed, dominated on one side of the ball or the other. But that's not something I think about because I know we are stronger. I know that we're fast enough and I know that we've got the athletes," he said. "I don't care how big you are if you get hit in the mouth, you get hit in the mouth. I don't think I've ever been known as a bruiser. That's not really my M.O. But if somebody comes and hits me, I'm going to hit them back. If you start thinking about 'Oh, he hit me so hard last year I don't want to go in there and get cracked on.' You can't think that and I don't think anybody on our team thinks that.
"If they do I'd love to talk to them and set them straight. You've got to be the hammer and not the nail."

Head coach Mark Richt doesn't see MSU being any less physical than they were a season ago.

Instead, he points to the Bulldogs' game earlier this year against LSU. In that game, they stood toe-to-toe with the top-ranked Tigers, trailing just 9-6 before LSU scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to win 19-6.

"We definitely have one of those games where we better roll up our sleeves and get after it. Thankfully I think we've played more physical to this point than we did a year ago," Richt said. "It always comes down to your defensive front first. Are you creating some kind of havoc up front? If the D-linemen get moved, there aren't many linebackers in the country who are going to stand a big 300-pound lineman on them and really come off of that block and make a play."

There's no need to remind Jones of that.

Georgia's defensive front is coming off its best game of the year last week at Ole Miss, but realizes it faces a much-different challenge come Saturday.

Although injuries have forced some shakeup along the offensive line, MSU will still average well over 300 pounds, including left tackle James Carmon (6-foot-7, 330 pounds) who is expected to return after an injury suffered in Week 2 at Auburn.

Still, it's one he can't wait to face.

"I think about the physicality of their team, I think about everyone from this year who was there last year still having that bad taste in their mouth," Jones said. "I think we want to come out and show that we're more physical than we were last year, and let it be known that we're not going to be as much of a pushover, like it may have seemed last year."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]