ATHENS, Ga. -- Not only did Mark Richt reveal that he was wearing some orange during his radio show on Monday night, but Georgia’s coach also announced the typically unthinkable.
He’ll be rooting for the hated Florida Gators to win on Saturday when they host South Carolina.
“I admit it, I’m a Florida fan this weekend,” Richt joked.
That continues a trend from last week when Richt publicly rooted for LSU, tweeting “I’m a big-time LSU fan this week. Geaux Tigers!” on Thursday. And LSU did Richt a favor, knocking South Carolina from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 23-21 victory in Baton Rouge.
Georgia still needs help from Florida (6-0, 5-0 SEC) to get back into the SEC East race because South Carolina (6-1, 4-1) blasted Richt’s Bulldogs 35-7 two weekends ago. The Gamecocks would hold a tiebreaker edge over Georgia (5-1, 3-1) thanks to the head-to-head win, so Georgia must win out and South Carolina must lose again for the Bulldogs to defend their division title.
If Florida can pull off a win this weekend in Gainesville and Georgia wins at Kentucky (1-6, 0-4), the Georgia-Florida game the following weekend would be for first place in the division.
Richt emphasized that he and his team can’t get too caught up in what happens in other teams’ games, but he doesn’t have a problem admitting that he’ll have an eye on the other division frontrunners’ games with hopes that other SEC teams do the Bulldogs some favors.
Just like LSU did last weekend, with a win that offered a glimmer of hope for a Georgia team that needed a pick-me-up after its sound defeat against the Gamecocks two weekends ago.
“We got a little help from LSU this weekend, so it’s still not too late and we’re going to keep working,” cornerback Damian Swann said.
Gates said afterward that he anticipates increasingly playing in a rotation with Beard and left guard Dallas Lee moving forward.
“[Offensive line coach Will] Friend has added a rotation where I play a couple series at left tackle and then a couple series at left guard, just to keep everybody fresh,” Gates said.
Richt said after the South Carolina game that he expected Beard to get a longer look at left tackle. The junior college transfer has improved as the season progressed and converted guard Gates struggled against Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Gates said he is proud of the progress Beard made in the first half of the season and welcomes a timeshare if Friend decides that is the way to go.
“He is gaining confidence, he knows what to do, he’s getting in his playbook and Coach Friend trusts him enough to put him out there -- and that’s a good thing,” Gates said. “When you earn your coach’s trust, you get more playing time. He’s been a tremendous help getting in the rotation and keeping everybody fresh.”
Injury update: Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones again did not practice on Monday.
Jones sprained his ankle in the second half of the Bulldogs’ Oct. 6 practice at South Carolina and sat out the team’s practices during its bye week, but Richt said Sunday that he expects Jones to be available against Kentucky.
Defensive end Abry Jones was slowed in Georgia’s last two games after spraining his ankle against Vanderbilt. He said after Monday’s practice that he is nearly back at 100 percent.
“[It’s] a little nagging. Not as much as before,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good today -- getting a little power back, pushing against folks in practice and all that, so my confidence is growing as each practice goes on.”
Georgia also announced on its official injury report that defensive end Sterling Bailey underwent surgery Monday on a sprained thumb and that linebacker Brandon Burrows underwent surgery last week on a fractured left hand.