November 8, 2011

'It's two different teams'

Aaron Murray gave a good-natured shout-out Tuesday to former Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, whose hits last year on the quarterback raised the rancor of more than one Bulldog player during the Tigers' 49-31 win.

On one particular play that most Georgia fans remember, replays show the current Detroit Lion hitting Murray in the back well after the ball was released, burying the Tampa native into the turf.

No penalty flag was thrown and Fairley was not punished by the league, although many Bulldogs took great umbrage with the hit, one of several those in Red and Black felt at the time were literally below the belt.

"That one felt good. I think he re-adjusted my back," Murray joked. It was definitely the most pleasurable one because I could hear my back crack. You're going to take hits, you've just got to bounce back up and keep playing."

It was definitely one of the chippier games Georgia had played in a while.

Tempers flared toward the end and resulted in the ejection of former Tiger defensive end Michael Goggans and former defensive tackle Mike Blanc, who were ejected after the officials caught them each throwing a punch.

To this day, Murray still has a scar under his chin as a result of a hit from Fairley that knocked him from the game

"That's the only game I've been taken out of other than high school when I broke my leg. It was a tough game, one of those knock you down and get up SEC games," Murray said. "I don't think I'll take as many big ones this year, but when you do you've got to get up and keep playing."

Georgia players spent much of Tuesday's press session being asked if they thought any carry-over of ill-feelings might be in store for Saturday's contest (3:30 p.m., CBS).

Tight end Aron White doesn't think so.

"There were a lot of shots out there that weren't necessarily the cleanest, but they're a new team, we're a new team and even though a lot of the same players are there, we're the team that controls our own destiny and they're trying to put themselves in the best position they can as far as the post-season is concerned," White shrugged. "They're still a great team, not somebody we're going to underestimate, but we definitely have something to prove against them."

The Bulldogs also have a lot to prove to themselves.

While revenge might be nice, staying in control of their destiny as far as the SEC East title is concerned is first and foremost on the minds of the 14th-ranked Bulldogs (7-2, 5-1).

"It's two different teams with two different mentalities. We're not worried about last season. We're not talking about that in the locker room. We're talking about we need to win these two games to get back to Atlanta. We're not talking 'Oh, let's pay them back for last year.' That's not even crossed our minds at all," Murray said. "We're going to go out there and play hard, play physical. We've done a great job all year of not letting our emotions get the best of us, the Vanderbilt game a couple of times, but other than that we've done a great job of not having a lot of penalties, especially personal foul penalties and stupid plays."

White agreed.

"It definitely was a game that got us fired up but we've been through so much since that game. We went through a whirlwind of an off-season, so many changes around here, plus this team has improved in so many ways," he said. "There's new leadership around here, new leadership styles, a lot of young guys on the team who weren't around for that. We definitely have not forgotten it, but at the same time we don't want to let it overshadow what we're really coming into this game to do - and that's win."

Crowell set to start

Head coach Mark Richt confirmed that freshman Isaiah Crowell will start Saturday following his suspension last week against New Mexico State.

"Isaiah is the starter right now. I can't imagine him not being that. We're expecting big things from him this week. I think he will do very well in practice, and I think he will be focused and ready to go," Richt said. "I don't think there's any question he's learned some things through this and there's no doubt he will be better and stronger for it I think."

Carlton Thomas, who was also suspended for the NMSU game, will battle Brandon Harton for the No. 2 spot, along with Ken Malcome.

Richt mum on kicking plans

Richt said he thinks he knows what he's going to do regarding Brandon Bogotay and Blair Walsh after alternating the two last Saturday.

But he's not telling.

"I'm not going to divulge that right now, because I'm not 100 percent sure. I will say I thought it went well. I'm glad we scored touchdowns and all we kicked was extra points, but it would have been a little more interesting to me to see guys attempt field goals under that rotation," Richt said. "We're going to go through practice too and see how everybody does throughout the week. It's a highly competitive situation, and I think that's healthy. I think it's good for them."

Last week, both kickers alternated kickoffs and extra points with Walsh going 5-for-5 and Bogotay 4-for-4.

Both kickers also recorded one touchback each in the game.

This and that

Former Georgia great Jake Scott will be on hand Saturday to be honored during the game for his induction into the College Hall of Fame. ""I think it's a team honor more than it is a personal honor, because football is a team sport and if it wasn't for the good players around me at Georgia or the good players around me in Miami, I wouldn't be there," said Scott during a conference call when his induction was announced in May. "I'm just thankful for my teammates. I'm appreciative of what I'm getting but I wish they would've gotten more publicity... I've been real lucky and I'm thankful for it." … Richt told UGASports after Tuesday's presser that it's looking more and more like wide receiver Rantavious Wooten will in fact redshirt after missing the last six games with a concussion.

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