November 29, 2011

Murray: 'Crowell ready'

Freshman running back Isaiah Crowell says he'll be ready.

At least, that's what he told quarterback Aaron Murray, who admitted that earlier this week he challenged the former Carver standout to be at his absolute best for Saturday's SEC Championship game against LSU.

"I've told him, 'hey, we need you this week, we need you at your best and we need you out there,'" Murray said Tuesday afternoon. "He told me he's ready to go, he said 'I love you guys; let's do this.' So yeah, I know he's excited for it. He's played well in all of our big games this year. I'm not too scared about him not going out there and not being ready."

The Bulldogs figure to need a strong collective effort from its running backs - including Crowell, Carlton Thomas, Ken Malcome, and hopefully Richard Samuel - to have a shot of knocking off the nation's top-ranked team.

"I think he's ready. I talked to him on Sunday. I texted him back and forth and I know a couple of the other guys, Ben (Jones), and a couple of others, have talked to him the past couple of days," Murray said of Crowell. "I think he'll be ready."

Richt held out Crowell of last week's game against Georgia Tech due to his ankle, which the Bulldog coach felt had not healed enough for him to be effective.

• Head coach Mark Richt said he's still not sure about the status of Samuel, who has not played since injuring his ankle on the final play against Florida. Samuel has yet to practice with the Bulldogs this week.

Richt not concerned about "Mettenberger factor"

Richt was asked whether or not he was concerned about former Bulldog quarterback Zach Mettenberger sharing any company secrets with the LSU coaching staff.

Mettenberger, you'll remember, signed with Georgia and spent a year in the program before being dismissed following his arrest on alcohol-related charges. The former Oconee County standout transferred to Butler Community College before signing with LSU, where he serves as backup for Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.

"I didn't even think about that until just now. He might be, we haven't changed an awful lot … he (LSU coach Les Miles) might be picking his brain, I don' t know, but there's so much you can get off of film now I don't know how much more he could add to it," Richt said. "But also, we've put in the no-huddle since Zach has gone, with different code-names and hand signals that he has no idea about. I don't think it will be a factor; but it could be."

Murray didn't seem very concerned, either.

" I don't know how much he remembers," Murray said. "He's been gone for two years and been through two more programs, LSU and the JUCO , so I don't know how much he remembers. But we can't worry about that. We just have to do what we do."

Still, Murray laughed that it's going to be strange seeing Mettenberger standing on the opposite sideline for Saturday's 4 p.m. game (CBS).

"It's going to be different seeing him over there. I think they're planning to wear white, so it will be funny to see him," Murray said. "When he came over the summer to visit we were all joking, 'we'll see you in Atlanta' and it came true."

Richt not worried about Dawgs' stamina

Much has been made of LSU's outstanding depth on both sides of the ball, depth that allows the Tigers to rotate players in and out of the lineup without missing the proverbial beat.

Although the Bulldogs may not boast quite the depth as the unbeaten Tigers, Richt didn't think stamina would be an issue as Saturday's game moves along.

"We sub a lot in some areas, not all areas but we've got a little bit of depth in certain spots. I think one thing that helps everybody is the amount of TV timeouts there are in a game. There's going to be four in each quarter," he said. "You don't play very long, if somebody gets in there and drives 12 plays, 10-, 12-, 14-play drives sometimes it can wear you down, but there's so many timeouts, change of possessions, I'm not too concerned about that. We're in pretty good condition, I think."

Reporter's question irks Richt

Richt seemed a bit miffed when an Atlanta radio reporter asked if he was surprised how the Bulldogs were able to handle "the adversity" of starting the season 0-2 after losses to Boise State and South Carolina.

"There was no business to handle in the locker room, you know what I'm saying? There was no dissension, there was no finger pointing, there was no loss of lack of confidence in each other, coaches to players, players to coaches," Richt said. "I thought we had good leadership, I thought we had good work ethic, I thought we had a pretty good talent base. We had to grow up in some areas and I didn't know for sure what was going to happen, but I didn't look at the landscape and say 'boy, we don't have a chance.' I didn't sit here and say 'we don't have the personnel, I'm worried about the chemistry on this team, or I'm worried about guys jumping ship' - it didn't even come close. We just went back to work and thankfully started winning."

Richt did cite the leadership of players like Ben Jones, Brandon Boykin, Orson Charles, DeAngelo Tyson, Abry Jones and Jarvis Jones.

"I can't sit here and say it was two guys who all of a sudden started pulling everybody out of a funk," Richt said. "We weren't in a funk. We didn't get to that point."

This and that

Along with Samuel, Richt said that Tyson (ankle) will not practice today, but ruled neither out for Saturday. "It's day to day on those guys," Richt said. … LSU will be the fifth top-ranked team the Bulldogs have ever played. Georgia is 1-3 in those games, losing 27-3 to Pittsburgh in the Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, 1977), beating Florida 24-3 (in 1985), losing to Florida 47-7 (in 1996) and losing to Florida (41-17) in 2009. … Charles needs one more receiving yard to establish a new Bulldog record for most receiving yards ((1,327) by a tight end set by Randy McMichael (1999-2001).