There aren't many subjects that senior tight end Aron White is afraid to address.
That's certainly true when it comes to Saturday's opponent at Jacksonville's Everbank Field - the Florida Gators.
White is one of just a handful of Bulldog seniors who were actually around to rejoice in 2007, the last time Georgia vanquished its hated rival. Since then, the memories obviously have not been grand.
But with one more opportunity for victory, White took the time Wednesday to address what it means - what it would mean - to say he was on the winning side in this SEC grudge match just one more time.
As always, White was not afraid to speak his mind.
"I want to win it because of the fans, they don't like Florida and they let you hear it whenever you lose. I want to win it because they're an SEC East opponent, I want to win it to stay in the hunt so we can win the division and go back to the ship," White said "But more than anything else, I'm playing for my teammates and I'm playing for my coaches. Plus, I hate Florida."
White isn't kidding.
"I don't care if Florida was on the other side of the United States, if they were in the Pac-10, if they were in the MAC, whatever, I don't care. I'm still going to hate Florida. I've been around here long enough to see a win against Florida and see how good that feels, but I've yet to do it on the field. I've had some good games against Florida; I've had some bad games against Florida. But regardless, this is a new year and these are completely different teams year in and year out. We're coming to get them," he said. "I don't care what anybody says. I don't care if anybody's out, if somebody says we don't stand a chance, I don't care if all the Bulldogs are behind us, I don't care if one Bulldog is behind us. I'm still going to come out with the same passion and intensity against Florida that I do every year. My teammates will echo that if you ask them."
Quarterback Aaron Murray won't argue with that.
"It's one that you circle on your calendar every year. When we're working out in the off-season, we've got the first game, Florida and Georgia Tech circled," Murray said. "There are other games on the calendar, but those are the games that get us motivated and pumped up when we're conditioning. It's a great rivalry. I love the atmosphere in the stadium and just being a part of it."
Love the game; the team across the field - not so much.
"I don't care if I'm in Missouri, I don't care if I'm in Georgia, I don't care where I'm at," White said. "If I see a Florida Gator on somebody's shirt or license plate, I'm going to slide them a little look. That's the way it's going to be. If they've got something to say, I'll have something to say back."
From a personal standpoint, White has had his ups and downs while playing against the Gators.
In 2008, his second-ever reception resulted in the first career touchdown of his career, one of two he has scored in the game after adding a 26-yard catch in 2009.
The third time wasn't the charm in 2010, instead it was a pass that deflected off the hands of White that resulted in an interception late in the first half as Georgia was driving for a potential score.
"That's something I've been thinking about all year, so that game left a lot of frustrations with me personally. I've got a lot of anger pent up from what happened in that game," White said. "The blood's definitely going to run hot this weekend. I'm sure something will happen during the game that everybody says was uncalled for, where emotions got the best of us, whether it's on our side or whether it's on their side. We've both been caught doing some antics out there."
"My freshman year we ran out on the field; the year after that they had us blown out and they started calling some timeouts late. But all that's out the window. It's a new year. We're going to come, we're going to play and while we won't forget those things we're going to focus on our game-plan because folks who get caught up in all that emotion usually lose. The folks who focus and stick to their game plan usually win."
Over the past 10 years that certainly hasn't been the Bulldogs.
Georgia is 2-8 against the Gators under head coach Mark Richt, and with the exception of the win in 2007, the Bulldogs have appeared to open up tight, something White acknowledges is probably true.
As for this year:
"Over the last couple of years, maybe, we've gotten a little too pent up about this game. This whole season has had a different feel. I don't know if you guys, the Bulldog Nation has been able to tell, but this year has a completely different mentality in my opinion. It doesn't have the same feel and that's not necessarily a bad thing," he said. "I loved the feeling in 2007; we had a great group of guys. Since then it changed, but this year it feels completely different. I don't think we're an uptight group."
White said there's certainly been an even more serious tone around the halls of the Butts-Mehre Building since the team returned from its 33-28 win over Vanderbilt two weeks ago.
From Richt all the way down to the line, the focus has been entire on Florida.
"People get a little tight during Georgia-Florida week. That's how it's always been. Players, fans, staff, coaches
everybody gets a little more serious during Georgia-Florida week," White said. "There's not as much joking around, they (coaches) don't like guys missing assignments, stuff like that and that's across the board, that's everybody and it's that way every time you play a big rivalry game. We're coming to win and that's what we're planning on doing."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]