October 24, 2006

Dawgs Need Defense in Jacksonville

Georgia (6-2, 3-2) went to work Tuesday afternoon in practice
installing their gameplan for their upcoming game with archrival Florida Saturday.
One key for Georgia will be applying pressure on the talent duo of quarterbacks
the Gators have. Senior quarterback Chris Leak hopes his offensive
line will offer enough protection from the Georgia front seven. Junior defensive
end Charles Johnson believes that pressuring Leak is the key
to victory for Georgia.


"It will be real important for us to get pressure
on Leak because if you let him sit back there he will pick you apart,"
said Johnson. "It will be a big part of the game to get some pressure
on him."


Leak is 2-1 against Georgia as Florida's quarterback
and in the two Florida wins he was sacked only once in each game. In the 2004
31-24 win for Georgia, the Bulldogs sacked Leak four times.


"It is always important to rattle the quarterback
and I cannot really answer on the past because things are different,"
said defensive coordinator
Willie Martinez.


"The important thing is to force them to hurry up
and throw the ball sooner than they want to and that is just as good as getting
a sack. Quarterback pressures and quarterback knockdowns are just as good as
sacks if you are making them throw it before they really want to throw it. If
we can generate enough pressure to make him throw it sooner than he wants to
than it can be effective for us."


The Gators have only given up 13 sacks all season and
just seven interceptions through seven games. The Bulldogs' defense has
19 sacks this season and seven interceptions in eight games.


Under head coach Mark Richt, Georgia
has been outscored by Florida by only 12 points 88-74 in the series despite
losing four games and winning only once.


"It always comes down to a close game against Florida
and a mistake here or a mistake there can cost you the game," said Johnson
about the series. Georgia has won only twice since 1990 against Florida.


Ely-Kelso throws his name in kicker race


With walk-on redshirt sophomore Ben Wilson
unable to kick because of a knee injury, senior punter Gordon Ely-Kelso
is working out as the number two kicker. Ely-Kelso was a kicker in high school,
but he has not seen game action as a kicker at Georgia. Junior kicker
Andy Bailey has struggled filling in for junior Brandon Coutu who was lost
for the season when he tore his hamstring prior to the Tennessee game.


Bailey is five of six on field goals, but he missed an
extra point in the Vanderbilt game and has struggled with kickoffs this season.
Tight ends coach David Johnson works with the kickers and he
thinks coach Richt will stick with Bailey as the kicker.


"It would be coach Richt's call and he would
have to make that determination based on how he feels about the production of
each of them, but Gordon is number two right now in case something would happen
physically or otherwise," said coach Johnson about the kicker situation.


Coach Johnson thinks that Ely-Kelso is still in the mindset
of being a punter and it will be difficult for him to be the permanent kicker.


"He is a punter and he does not do it fulltime,
so we will see what happens, but I feel good about Gordon as a person and I
think he will handle pressure and he has been in a lot of big games, so that
will be a positive," said Johnson.


Given the cold and windy weather conditions at practice
Tuesday both Ely-Kelso and Bailey struggled kicking field goals.


Dawgs spread the offense


Freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford
connected with nine different receivers in the 27-24 win against Mississippi
State last Saturday. Stafford hopes to spread the ball around this week against
Florida.


"Defenses define themselves a little bit better
when you spread them out," said Richt of using the spread attack. "You
see less things when you spread them out, but I felt like it was worth it last
week to get in those sets as a way to help get Mikey (Henderson) involved a
little bit more."


Stafford ran a spread offense in high school in Texas
from the shotgun and the Georgia coaching staff thought that spreading the offense
out would aid Stafford in his development.


"I knew that he did it in high school and I felt
like I wanted him to get some momentum as a starter and by spreading the field
a little bit and throwing the ball a little bit I thought that would help him
grow," said Richt. "I think it did and I would have hoped for less
turnovers, but again that is part of the learning process and now he can see
how damaging that can be."


"The other players say it is awesome and I went
down to Florida-Florida State my junior year for a visit and I went to the Texas-Oklahoma
game before, so it is something I kind of know about big rivalry games,"
said Stafford of neutral site rivalry games. "I am sure this one has it's
own twist to it so I am excited to get out there and see what's up."


Stafford has some experience playing in neutral site games
from playing in Texas State Championship games in high school.


"We had neutral site state championship games and
stuff like that, so it is kind of like that, but not with that many people,"
said Stafford of playing in front of 84,000 people for the first time on the
road. "It is tough, but it is more fun because the crowd is loud the whole
time because there are equal amounts of fans for each team and it is fun to
be a part of."


Stafford and the Bulldogs will need to win this weekend
to stay alive in the SEC East race where they trail Tennessee and Florida in
the chase for the dome.


"I think this game is big for both teams because
it is a rivalry game and it is big every year no matter what the records are,"
said Stafford. "It is going to be fun to get out there and play and give
it every thing I got."


Wide Receivers look to step up


Wide Receivers coach John Eason shook
up the depth chart this week benching sophomore Mohamed Massaquoi
in favor of redshirt sophomore
Demiko Goodman.


"Demiko is continuing to improve and he is catching
the ball relatively well and in practice the effort has always been there and
I think he just need to develop some confidence in himself and I think he is
starting to do that now," said Eason of Goodman's recent performances.
Massaquoi has struggled with drops all season and coach Eason just thought it
was time for a change at the split end position.


"Obviously we all saw the ballgame last week and
obviously performance is a factor and we have to continue to improve and I felt
like Demiko was doing a good job steadily improving and I feel like he deserved
an opportunity," said Eason about giving Goodman his first career start.


Sophomore
Kenneth Harris had a career
day against Mississippi State last week with four catches for 106 yards and
given junior A.J. Bryant's reoccurring groin injury he
may see more playing time in Jacksonville.


"Kenneth is doing a very good job right now and
he made some major plays for us in the ballgame the other day and he is continuing
to improve and get better," said Eason of Harris' play.


Bryant has been battling his groin injury since fall camp
and coach Eason believes it may be hampering his on the field performance.


"It is something that has been nagging him off and
on and he has not been able to get the kind of practice he would like to get
and I am sure that is slowing him down some," said Eason.


If Bryant's groin continues to be an issue Harris,
junior Mikey Henderson, and redshirt freshman
Mike Moore will see more playing time at flanker.


Injury Report


Senior tight end Martrez Milner participated
in practice Tuesday for the first time since injuring his toe against Vanderbilt.
Milner remains questionable for the Florida game Saturday.


In green jerseys Tuesday were senior guard Chester
Adams (ankle), senior center
Nick Jones (MCL sprain),
junior wide receiver Mikey Henderson (hamstring), redshirt sophomore
Ramarcus Brown (hamstring), senior wide receiver Sean Bailey
(ACL), and freshman Tony Wilson (shoulder).
Adams, Jones, Henderson, and Brown are all expected to play Saturday.


Freshman
Darius Dewberry missed practice
for the second straight day with a strained hamstring.


Other Notes and Quotes…


"Every game since I have been here we have gone
into every game believing we can win and I do not think that is going to change,"
said Richt at the Tuesday press conference. "We are studying film like
always and we are trying to see where we might be able to penetration a bit
offensively and give them a bit of grief defensively. On special teams, our
schemes will be ones we believe to be sound and give us a chance. Our players
have got to rise to the occasion."


"It's going to be one heck of a challenge
for us. They play a spread system and then run the ball out of the spread as
good as anyone and then of course they have the big playmakers. They have all
kinds of weapons. At wide receiver, (Dallas) Baker and (Jemalle) Cornelius are
seniors and (Andre) Caldwell is a junior, but he has certainly been playing
like a senior as of late. They also have a young kid named (Percy) Harvin that
can create all kinds of problems as receiver or a runner, they have nice little
package for him," said Richt of the Florida receivers.


"On the offensive line they lost most of their starters,
their center (Steve) Rissler is the only one back," said Richt of the
offensive linemen. "(Carlton) Medder played a little bit for him last
year, maybe a few others probably played some, but they've done a nice
job up front of putting things together after a lot of change."


"Their running back is DeShawn Wynn, he is in a
lot better shape than he was a year ago," said Richt of the gator running
attack. "You can see it in his stamina and his ability to make people
miss and to break tackles. Billy Latsko is a tough, hard-nosed fullback, not
unlike our Brannan Southerland. I think they are both outstanding football players."


"They have a great one-two punch at quarterback,"
said Richt of the Florida quarterback rotation. "You have a veteran in
Leak who has played an awful lot of football, four-year starter, two years in
the system, excellent passer, then you have a guy who can come in with a completely
different style of play with (Tim) Tebow and his physical ability to run the
ball. He is a very good passer too. He hasn't been given the opportunity
to throw too many times but when he has, he has probably thrown a touchdown
just about every time."


"On defense I don't know where to start,"
said Richt of the Gator's defense. "They are an outstanding bunch.
They are all juniors and seniors, mostly seniors, and are very talented across
the board. I think Marcus Thomas has probably gotten the most attention; he
is a big, strong, physical player. Just looking at film from last year compared
to this year, he looked a little bit too big last year but this year has trimmed
down and is very agile. Then you have (Joe) Cohen, (Ray) McDonald, and those
guys in there, who are great football players. (Jarvis) Moss is a little bit
younger but doing a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback."


"Florida's linebacker core is a veteran group,"
said Richt. "(Brandon) Siler gets the most attention, but they all are
good runners and hitters, very physical and strong, and all of them are in the
235-pound range."


"Their defensive backs are all what I like to call
ball-hawks," said Richt. "They will make a play on the ball, they
won't play soft and let people catch balls on them. They will get after
it and take their shots at runners and receivers when they do catch the ball,
but they will go for the ball and they have a lot of pickoffs to show for it."



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