September 22, 2011

Two teams needing a win

To get an understanding of why there's been so much "hot seat" talk when it comes to Georgia's Mark Richt and Houston Nutt of Ole Miss, all you have to do is take a look at the last 10 SEC games for each program.

It's not pretty.

For the Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1), their record during that period stands a paltry 3-7. The Rebels are even worse, standing at a measly 1-9 heading into Saturday's matchup in Oxford (12:21, SEC-TV).

Coming off an embarrassing 30-7 loss at Vanderbilt, Nutt is certainly feeling the pinch.

"Anyone who is disappointed (in) Saturday, you can multiply that times 99 for me," Nutt said earlier this week. "And it all starts with me."

Few in Oxford would argue that, with the ones who don't likely focusing their anger at Rebel athletic director Pete Boone for letting the program slip into the condition many believe that it has.

"I feel this awesome responsibility. I want to win for our fans, for our players. I don't want our fans to give up on this team. We've got 33 players that are freshmen and redshirt freshmen that are playing. Thirty-three first-time players, and there's a lot of good things that are going to happen. But you have to hang in there. We'll get the effort. We'll get the right attitude. That wasn't it Saturday. I understand that. I fully understand that."

At least Richt and the Bulldogs appear to be headed in a positive direction after playing South Carolina close in a 45-42 loss before last week's 59-0 whitewashing of out-manned Coastal Carolina.

But whatever positive vibes the Bulldogs may be feeling right now, they also know they'll be wiped out in the blink of an eye should Georgia lose this one to Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1).

"The mental approach is still the same, especially since this is a SEC game. Both teams want the win to improve to 2-2. We're going to do our best to go out there as a team, play assignment football and get the W," junior Shawn Williams said. "Last week's win helped us out a lot. We needed that win. It gave us confidence and motivation that we can go out there and make the plays we need to make to win the game."

In an effort to make sure that happens, Richt's stressed to his team that they approach the important contest like it was a business trip.

"We are looking forward to that. We don't get to go to Oxford very often. You play them once every six years or whatever it might be. We are looking forward to that. I do enjoy road games," Richt said. "You get your 70 guys and you go on a business trip and there aren't a lot of things you have to do other than go and play the ballgame. There aren't any other responsibilities that I have personally or that the players have or that the assistant coaches might have. So it is nice just to gather up the team, gather up the troops and get busy."

He hopes the early kickoff (11:21 locally) won't turn out to be too much of a concern.

"We get there in time to have dinner, and we have some meetings. We give them a snack and then they go to bed," Richt said. "They are going to wake up extremely early. It depends on whose time zone you are on, but I think we are going to keep our team on our time zone just to keep them on their normal biological clock, and also make it where they wake up at 7:15 instead of 6:15. I don't know if that will help or not, but we're looking forward to it."

As for the game, based on the Rebels' showing last week in Nashville, the Bulldogs should have ample opportunity to put some points on the board.

Ole Miss ranks next-to-last in the SEC in rushing defense, giving up 198.3 yards per game, including a league-worst 5.0 yards per carry.

That could mean a big day for freshman running back Isaiah Crowell, who in his first three games as a collegian has 47 carries for 264 yards with two rushing scores.

The Rebels haven't been any better on the offensive side.

Ole Miss is averaging a league-worst 252.3 yards per game while quarterback Zach Stoudt has thrown five interceptions - all in last week's loss at Vanderbilt.


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