October 4, 2011

Trying to avoid a repeat



Georgia tight end Orson Charles considers himself to be a music lover - just as long as the song isn't "Rocky Top."

No, it's not his favorite tune.

Unfortunately for Charles and the rest of his Georgia teammates, that's a melody they've had to hear extensively the Bulldogs' last two trips to Knoxville, which have resulted in two of the more severe beatings a Mark Richt squad has had to endure during his 11 years in Athens.

It hasn't been pretty.

Tennessee demolished Georgia 35-14 in 2007, and followed that with a 45-19 drubbing of the Bulldogs during their last trip in 2009, Charles' first appearance in what's one of the SEC's more heated rivalries.

"All I heard was Rocky Top and they definitely kicked us out of their stadium. I felt like we just fizzled out and we didn't play a 60-minute game," Charles said. "I was very disappointed, the crowd was crazy, but I'm looking forward to a very different game this year."

If the Bulldogs - who are back in the SEC East after South Carolina's loss to Auburn - want to keep moving up, recent history will have to change.

But when you're beaten as badly as the Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1) were the last two times they paid a visit to Tennessee (3-1, 0-1), forgetting what happened is not easy to do - even for Richt.

So what happened?

In 2007, Georgia never got out of the gate as the Vols exploded to a 28-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

Two years ago, the game was scoreless after the first quarter before Tennessee outscored Georgia 21-7 in the second and won going away.

"The thing that I didn't like, both those games before it was over, it looked like they beat us to the point we gave in, I guess," Richt said. "It's hard to fight when you're so far down, but I don't know if we fought the full 60 minutes. That's what happens when you get behind in a place like that. We haven't had many of those since I've been at Georgia but those are two situations right there where it did."

Senior tight end Aron White got to witness both games first hand.

"We've been to some crazy stadiums since I've been here, places hard to play in, but nothing is quite like Neyland Stadium with the volume, the noise that goes on there," he said. "Seeing all that orange, it can be disorienting. It's really something that is very unique to Tennessee and we definitely need to talk to our young guys and get them prepared for what will be as hostile environment as we will see this year."

Washington will just miss the two games

Richt said that linebacker Cornelius Washington will only be suspended for this week's contest at Tennessee and next week's game at Vanderbilt. He will return to the lineup against Florida.

He did not, however, have much more information regarding who might replace Washington in the lineup, although the trio of Chase Vasser, Reuben Faloughi and Ray Drew are expected to see the bulk of the work.

"It will probably be a little bit by committee to decide how we are going to handle the loss of Cornelius this week and next week," Richt said. "It is definitely going to provide more opportunities for Ray Drew, and there are other things we might move around to help us in that area, but we'll know better after we practice a little bit."

Injury update

Richt said that Rantavious Wooten (concussion) is likely to miss his third straight game for the Bulldogs, but cornerback Damian Swann (hip-pointer) and offensive guard Chris Burnette are expected to return to practice Tuesday and hopefully be able to play.

"Damian Swann is getting better. We think he might get some scout team work today. Chris Burnette is also getting better. We think he'll probably get some scout team work today," Richt said. "Then, after a day like today when it's the first time back, you get a lot better feel of where they are at. We'll see if they can make it through the practice number one, and number two, how sore they are going to be tomorrow."

Meanwhile, cornerback Brandon Boykin (mouth) will not practice this week but Richt said he will be ready to go against the Vols.

Richt approaching milestone victory

With a victory in Saturday's game at Tennessee, Richt will capture his 100th victory as the Bulldogs' head coach.

"I never thought I'd get to 100. I didn't know if I'd get to 100 games period, but to get to 100 victories would be sweet, no doubt," Richt said. "The sweetest part of it would be if it happened this week. I would think there is a pretty good chance that this season we'll get to 100, but I sure would like it this week, because it is Tennessee and it is so important for where we are right now and the race we're in."

This and that

In this week's SEC stats, Georgia ranks fifth in scoring offense (34.6 points per game), sixth in rushing offense (172.2 ypg), tied with Florida for fourth in total offense (413.8 ypg), third in passing offense (237.6 ypg) and second in passing efficiency (154.5). Defensively, the Bulldogs stand sixth in scoring defense (20.6 ppg), fifth in rushing defense (107.0 ypg), tied with Florida for second in total defense (258.6) and second in pass defense (151.6 ypg). … Richt said there continues to be no news regarding offensive lineman Kolton Houston and the "NCAA issue" that has kept him from playing yet this year.

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