Mark Richt and his No. 5 Georgia team (9-1, 7-1 SEC) have already clinched the SEC East title. But before playing in the conference title game on Dec. 1, they first must contend with back-to-back option rushing attacks from Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs’ coach used his time Wednesday on the SEC’s weekly teleconference to discuss the challenges in preparing for and defending the Eagles’ and Yellow Jackets’ flexbone offenses. He also continued his practice of refusing to discuss the Bulldogs’ BCS championship hopes so as not to appear that he is overlooking upcoming opponents.
1. Practice changes
Richt’s coaching staff has changed its practice routine this week, sending the team out in full pads each day -- instead of the normal practice of Tuesday and Wednesday only -- in order to prepare for the cut blocking it will face from Georgia Southern’s offensive personnel. So far the results have been mixed.
“We’ve been in pads on Monday and Tuesday,” Richt said. “We’ll be full pads today and we’ll be full pads tomorrow, just trying to simulate Georgia Southern’s offensive system with our scout team and trying to get our players as prepared as possible for the drastic change of style.
“So it’s a work week for sure. It’s one of those types of games where we’ve got to practice full speed every day, working on the scheme that they have and the cut blocks that they have and the passing game that comes off it is just a tremendous challenge. So far the scout team’s winning.”
2. Simple personnel rotation
Don’t expect to see Georgia play many nickel or dime defensive packages in the next two weeks. The Bulldogs will be single-minded in their intention to defend the run on every down mostly out of a base defensive package.
“We’re really just in one personnel group,” Richt said. “It’s not like Georgia Southern plays a lot of different personnel groups, really. We’ve got to be in run-stopping defense every single snap, I don’t care if it’s third-and-25 or if it’s two-minute drill. When you start playing some defense other than to stop that system, that’s when they get the biggest and longest runs that you could imagine because you’re just not equipped to stop it.”
3. No title talk
Richt has not answered questions about the Bulldogs’ BCS chances lately, despite their status as one of the nation’s highest-ranked one-loss teams. Georgia’s BCS position is fairly obvious, with three undefeated teams (Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame) sitting at the top of the BCS standings and the Bulldogs’ probable SEC championship game opponent, Alabama (9-1), just ahead at No. 4.
As with Georgia, those teams can still stumble down the stretch if they get distracted by potential postseason positioning too early.
“I’m not going to make any kind of comment on that because it just makes it look like I’m looking down the road, which I really am not,” Richt said. “We’ve got our hands full here with Georgia Southern and of course Georgia Tech behind that. So that’s where I am with my focus and my comments will stay, but I think when the time comes we’ll talk about that.”