November 24, 2009

Garner still wants to be a head coach

With head coaching positions starting to open at such places as Tennessee State and Georgia Southern, defensive line coach Rodney Garner was asked if such a position was still part of his ultimate goal.

It is.

"I think as far as your goal, you'd always like that opportunity, given the right situation, the right community to raise my family; that will always factor into it," Garner said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with UGASports.

Garner did not say whether or not he would be interested in either of those two positions after interviewing for the head coaching job at Auburn last year.

He also interviewed for spot on Lane Kiffin's staff at Tennessee before electing to remain with the Bulldogs.

"I think you never close doors, you just look at each situation individually and you see what happens," Garner said. "But again, right now, I'm not looking at anything past Georgia Tech. That's the only thing that I can truly be focused on. Ever since the Florida game I've challenged my guys, starting with the Tennessee Tech game, that we've got a four-game season, to prepare for this game and do the best job that we can."

Garner shrugged when asked if his experience qualifies him as head coach material.

"It may not be my decision. I may think something, other people might think something else," Garner said. "But my focus is truly on Georgia Tech."

Are Dawgs mentally ready?

Kade Weston had an interesting comment when talking about last week's second-half collapse against Kentucky and how that might affect Georgia for Saturday night's game at Georgia Tech.

"We can't let Kentucky beat us twice," Weston shrugged, adding that the Bulldogs (6-5) have to forget all about what happened against the Wildcats if they want to be successful against the seventh-ranked Yellow Jackets.

But can they?

Offensive tackle Clint Boling isn't too sure.

"It's tough to get past, but we are trying to get past it because going into the second half when we were up, a lot of us thought that we could put the game away with the way we've been playing," he said. "Defensively we have been playing great and our offense has been moving the ball really well, but a couple turnovers just really hurt. We are trying to move past it, look towards Tech and hopefully we will be able to do that."

While a win over Georgia Tech (10-1) might not totally erase all the bad memories from 2008, it would certainly as a positive step moving forward.

"It would be huge," Boling said. "But we are just trying not to quit after everything that's happened, and I think if we can win against Tech that would be great for our team moral and emotions going into the bowl game."

Head coach Mark Richt believes his team will be ready to play.

But just in case, he's got few reminders up his sleeve that he plans to unveil to his players the closer it gets to kickoff.

"Anything we can get our hands on to try to help the guys understand. Early in the week you spend a lot more time in preparation. I'm trying to prepare them to win the game by the fundamentals and what we teach in practice and the schemes we are putting in and the ability to teach it and learn it," Richt said. "The focus is much more on that right now. As you get closer to the game, you are going to give them little bits of pieces of something to try to motivate them for that day of practice, but the closer you get to the game, the more emotion you want to add to your preparation, so we're still thinking about things that might could help."

Richt proud of kickers

Monday's news that both Blair Walsh and Drew Butler are finalists for the Lou Groza and Ray Guy Awards was not lost on Richt, who said the two kickers have been two of the Bulldogs' bigger bright spots this fall.

"To have two guys in the top three in the country in these awards, the Lou Groza and the Ray Guy, is phenomenal and they deserve it. Both of them have a chance of winning it, legitimate shots. Walsh made every kick over 50 yards. He's missed one and he's never missed an extra point field goal. He's been outstanding," Richt said. "Where Butler is in the distance that he has from him to the next guy in punt yardage, and we are leading the nation in net punt also, that's another indicator. You might have a guy booming it, but he's outkicking his coverage every time and your net punt is awful, basically you have a selfish guy. Not only is he getting the distance, but he's getting the hang time to go along with it. Our punt team has done an outstanding job of protecting and covering."

The respective winners will be announced on Dec. 10 at the Home Depot ESPNU Awards Banquet in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

"It is an exciting time, and I know (Blair Walsh) and I are going to be down there at the same time so that is pretty cool," Butler said. "It is a high expectation you set for yourself and for this to actually come true is a testament to the hard work we put in this of-season and how we worked hard during the season to be consistent and help this team out. We both couldn't be here without the team's we're on."

Richt wanted to sign Dwyer

When he sees Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer to etch his name into the Georgia Tech record book, Richt wonders what might have been.

Richt said Tuesday the Bulldogs "tried like mad" to sign the 6-foot, 230-pounder who was a standout at Kell, who now ranks sixth in Tech history with 3,034 career yards.

"We thought he was one of the finest backs in the state and in the country and a very fine young man. I didn't know he was going to grow into such the big hoss that he is," Richt said. "I thought he was a good-sized back, but I didn't think he'd get up to the 235-240 range and still keep his speed and power. We tried like mad to get him."

Over his last eight games, Dwyer has rushed for 1, 035 yards (129.4 pg) and scored nine touchdowns.

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