September 14, 2012

No letting up

Coach Richt Wednesday from Anthony Dasher on Vimeo.

It wouldn't have come as a huge surprise to hear that Louisiana-Monroe's football office being overrun with mail, thank-you cards from coaches all over the country following their upset win last week at Arkansas.

Nothing against the Razorbacks, but for teams like 7th-ranked Georgia (2-0) which entertains Florida Atlantic (1-1) Saturday night at Sanford Stadium (7:30, CSS), it was a timely reminder of what can happen if you're not ready to play.

Bulldog cornerback Branden Smith said he and his teammates have certainly gotten the message.

"You can't take anything for granted," Smith said. "You can't take anybody lightly. You've got to go out and play hard, no matter who they are."

That's certainly what head coach Mark Richt is banking on.

Following last week's 41-20 win at Missouri, the last thing Richt wants to see is see is Bulldogs take a step back against a rebuilding Florida Atlantic squad under first-year coach Carl Pelini, who served at Nebraska the previous four years as the defensive coordinator for the Cornhuskers.

Smith agrees.

"The biggest thing we want to do is win the game, but we also want to be more consistent," he said. "We want to play a full four quarters."

Richt slo wants to see his team to start to clean up some of its recent issues, including those on the defensive side.

"There are a lot of good things that happened defensively in the ball game (against Missouri), but there are some things that we have to clean up still," Richt said. "We had a breakdown on that big touchdown pass where we just weren't really disciplined there, but overall I think we're playing pretty good, and I think we can get better. We won, but we can certainly improve on both sides of the ball and special teams. To get two guys back at this point is good as well."

Richt was speaking of defensive back Sanders Commings and linebacker Chase Vasser, who return to action after serving their respective two-game suspensions handed out by Richt earlier this year.

"We'll always cross-train Sanders Commings to play both cornerback and safety. He's probably bigger than both of our safeties. He's close to 220 pounds, and he runs and covers really well," Richt said. "He's smart enough to play both positions, so we'll train him at both."

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Cummings will see time at both spots against the visiting Owls, who according to Pelini, won't try to do anything different against the Bulldogs - they just want to get better at it.

"If you change how you do things based on your opponent, then you're telling your guys, we didn't do it good enough any other weeks," he said. "I think no matter whom your opponent is, you prepare as best you can, and you do it the way think is the best way to do it. We do the best job we can preparing our guys every week."

Florida Atlantic travels to Alabama next week.

"We have 100 things we need to fix," he said. "I knew when I took this job that that would be the challenge, fixing everything. The way we practice, the way we prepare, the way we work out, the way we conduct our daily lives. All those things manifest themselves on the field. Those are the things I'm worried about. I can't worry about Georgia, Alabama, North Texas, or Louisiana-Monroe, I have to worry about us. Until we can get us fixed, it really doesn't matter who the opponent is."

That's sort of what Richt is doing as well.

After Saturday's the game, the Bulldogs host Vanderbilt and Tennessee before traveling to South Carolina, and the Bulldog coach would certainly like to see his team clicking as close to optimum efficiency as possible.

That includes running backs Ken Malcome, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

"We have to get better. We missed some opportunities this last game maybe more than Game One as far as hitting it in the right spot," Richt said. "We missed some good blocking a couple of times I thought, more than a couple of times actually. It wasn't just one guy. I think all three of them really, there was probably a run or two that all of them had that could have gained some years."

NOTE: Russ," the half-brother of Uga VII who has served two terms as interim mascot for the Georgia Bulldogs, will assume the title of "Uga IX" at Saturday night's game. Official ceremonies will take place prior to the contest.