September 16, 2011

Only one goal for Dawgs

Yes, on paper, Georgia should not have any trouble dispatching Football Championship Subdivision member Coastal Carolina Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.

On that same paper, if the Bulldogs so desire, the 1 p.m. contest is expected to present head coach Mark Richt and his staff the opportunity to play some more of their younger players in an attempt to improve some obvious issues of depth.

While that may or may not occur, when you're 0-2 for the first time since 1996, Georgia coaches and players made it clear they're only focused on one thing.

"We're not worried about any of that," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "We just want to win."

He was far from being the only one who feels that way.

"We're not about moral victories," said defensive end Abry Jones, referring to what by all accounts was a better effort in last week's 45-42 loss to South Carolina. "We need to win."

Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett understands the Bulldog Nation is out for blood.

"I know (Georgia). People are probably telling (the Georgia players) that they need to wear (Coastal Carolina) out. For our young men, we are going to play this great game; we've got to honor this great game by giving it all we got. (This game) was here long before us and it will be here long after us," Bennett said. "It's a great game that we are blessed to be a part of. Going to Sanford Stadium, between the hedges, that's college football at its finest. We can't worry about the score. We've got to go play the game. I want to see our young men have success between the hedges at Sanford Stadium."

Richt is expecting nothing less from the Chanticleers.

"This is another team that understands winning. They were conference champions a year ago. When you watch them play, they execute well, they run hard, they tackle physical and they are productive in the things that they do. I promise you they are going to show up looking to knock us off. I don't think there is any doubt about that. I don't think there's a team that is coming in saying we are just going to collect a check and leave," Richt said. "That's not their personality. It's not the personality of their coach. We've got to execute. If we go out there and don't play good we're going to have a war, and we may have a war anyway. I don't know. We're going to find out."

Still, Richt would as just soon that not be the case.

Another week has meant more questions for the Georgia head coach regarding the status of his program and whether or not the outside perception that something is amiss within the confines of the Butts-Mehre Building is actually true.

"There's not a cloud hanging over us. There might be perceptively, but as far as what I'm seeing in our staff meetings, what I'm seeing as we prepare throughout the day and night, what I'm seeing with these guys and their belief in each other and what we are doing, they know. If the game went the other way, then Georgia is the frontrunner in the East," Richt said earlier this week. "Everybody would start thinking about all the positive possibilities. We're going to keep improving, and after this week we got a four-game stretch before an open date with some Southeastern Conference foes and we'll just battle them one at a time and see where we are at."

Injuries are a more pressing concern for Richt right now.

One week after losing starting Moe Alec Ogletree to a broken bone in his foot, the Bulldogs lost starting Mike linebacker Christian Robinson to a foot injury late in the contest against South Carolina.

With the both starters out, it's forced defensive coaches to start looking at other alternatives, including giving safety Shawn Williams a look at look at linebacker, where he conceivably could help spare replacements Amarlo Herrera, Mike Gilliard and Jeremy Sulek against the Chanticleers (2-0).

Freshman Ramik Wilson could also figure into the mix.

Offensively, the big news for the Bulldogs is that freshman Isaiah Crowell is set to make his first collegiate start after rushing 16 times for 118 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns, one on a 15-yard run and another on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Murray, who will be looking to avoid the types of mistakes that helped cost the Bulldogs in last week's loss to the Gamecocks.

"We had some really horrible things happen to swing momentum and came back to take the lead a couple times after those things. At the end of the fourth quarter with six minutes to go we take the lead. We gave them one more touchdown at the end, but even after that we line up and go down and score and we're in position to get the onside kick and possibly get the ball and win the game," Richt said. "So a lot of encouraging things, and there's seven more (SEC) games for us and South Carolina. And some of the teams haven't even started their conference play, so there's a lot of football left. If South Carolina is the team to bet in the east, which right now they are - they are the preseason favorite for it and they are 1-0, but I would think we can compete with anybody in the Eastern Division and anybody in the league."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]