October 19, 2010

How bout Richt's hair-raising idea?

If Georgia coach Mark Richt has his way, costumed mascot Hairy Dawg might have some company - in a manner of speaking.

In order to have a little fun, while stressing the importance of winning the turnover battle on a week-by-week basis, Richt has a deal with his players where they can go a week without shaving. As long as the Bulldogs have fewer turnovers than their opponents, the beards can continue to grow.

"I said I hope they're nastiest looking bunch in America by the time we get to the end of the year," said Richt, who instituted a no facial hair policy when he became the Bulldog coach in 2001.

After forcing five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions) in their wins against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs are into their third week of hairy faces.

"We started this last year, unfortunately we were clean shaven all year so that was a bad sign," Richt cracked. "This year, they're getting a little furrier."

Of course, some players are able to take advantage of the stipulation better than others.

According to linebacker Akeem Dent, tight end Arthur Lynch has the best beard going, although Richt defers to fullback Fred Munzenmaier.

"You learn who can grow a beard in a hurry. There are some guys who can grow it in a hurry. Munzenmaier is one of the fastest beard guys we've got," Richt said. "Some guys they shave and they're done for the year. I don't know if Ben Jones has any facial hair yet."

Don't look for Richt to start taking part in the festivities.

"If it wasn't so gray I probably would," he said. "I don't want to look old."

But whatever works, right?

"It's a big deal," linebacker Christian Robinson said. "Everybody, when we used go back on Monday, we would talk about how we had to shave this week. It's motivation. When you start to see the younger guys on the sideline say, 'Man, we don't have to shave,' it's kind of funny."

Nobody was laughing at the Bulldogs' turnover margin in 2009.

Last year, Georgia ranked dead last in all of college football for most of the year. Heading into Saturday's game at Kentucky, the Bulldogs are tied for second in the SEC and 30th nationally with the Wildcats and Auburn at 0.57.

Pre-game speakers proving a success

First it was Boss Bailey who gave the Bulldogs a lift with his pre-game speech prior to Georgia's win over Tennessee.

After that, it was Thomas Davis who offered some words of wisdom prior to last week's game against Vanderbilt.

Richt admits he's got somebody in mind prior to Saturday's game against Kentucky, but he's not saying.

"I've got a guy in mind," Richt said. "I don't know who will be in Kentucky, so I'm kind of searching. I don't want everybody coming out of the woodwork, but you want the right guy, you know? But I do have somebody coming in before we get on the plane."

Murray knows he needs to play smart

As a former safety in high school, quarterback Aaron Murray admits that some habits die hard.

That includes overcoming the urge to lay out punishment of his own against would-be tacklers, as opposed to getting down or scooting out of bounds to avoid any unnecessary contact.

"I've worked on it, but it's hard," Murray said Tuesday. "In Colorado I slid twice and I think that's the most I've ever done in my entire life, but it's definitely something I need to keep ingraining, just to get down or get out of bounds."

He knows coaches and the entire Bulldog Nation hold their collective breath every time he takes a shot, like the one he took last week against Vanderbilt, when he received a clean shot with the helmet directly against his sternum.

"Yeah, I didn't see him. I spun around and he caught me pretty good. It was a good shot."

Murray said. "But you can't go out there scared; you can't go out there scared of contact. You can be smart, but you can't get scared. Its football and you're going to get hit. You're going to take your licks every once in a while. You just pray that you don't get knocked out and just be as smart as you can."

This and that

Richt said that backup offensive lineman (stringer) Chris Burnette remains out of practice and is not sure when he might return. … Cornerback and punt returner Branden Smith (concussion) is listed as doubtful while backup safety Nick Williams (hamstring) is questionable for Saturday's contest.

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