The Georgia Bulldogs (7-4, 4-4 SEC) hit the practice fields
in Athens Wednesday afternoon in preparation for their matchup against ACC Coast
Divisional Champions Georgia Tech (9-2, 7-1 ACC) Saturday in Sanford Stadium.
Despite having a perfect record against Georgia Tech,
head coach Mark Richt thinks the Bulldog-Yellow Jacket game is Georgia's
biggest rivalry game each season.
"I think it is our biggest rivalry game and for
me as a coach traveling around the state is the one game they mention everywhere
you go," said Richt. "They may want Tennessee and Tech, they may
want South Carolina here, Florida there, or Auburn over there, but everybody
is in agreement about Tech."
Since 1990, Georgia has lost only four times to Georgia
Tech putting up an winning 75 percent of the games against the Yellow Jackets
during that span.
"There is no question that it is the game in this
state because most other states have more than two teams. In Florida, there
is three in state rivalries, but it is mostly Florida State- Miami and Florida
State-Florida and it used to be Florida-Miami, but they do not play every year
anymore," said Richt. "In this state there is no debate about what
the big game is."
Coach Richt said he would rather watch an instate rivalry
game rather than a matchup like Ohio State and Michigan especially if he knows
the teams that are playing.
"Last Saturday I was watching both the Ohio State-Michigan
game and the Auburn-Alabama game and I spend a lot more time watching the Iron
Bowl than I did the other one," said Richt jokingly. "I am sure
that it is because that this is the league I coach in and I know the people
so it is a lot more interesting to me than what was going on up there."
The Bulldogs hope to pull out a win in their final regular
season game against the Yellow Jackets to finish a season with at least eight
wins for the tenth straight season.
"If we finish strong I would say they did an awesome
job of handling adversity and the largest amount of adversity we have faced
since I have been here," said Richt of his 2006 senior class. "We
turned the momentum around for sure and now if we can finish I will remember
them for that. This game will go a long way in determining that."
Stafford Ready for Tech
Freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford will make
his final start of his first season at Georgia in Sanford Stadium Saturday and
he hopes they can win the game for the seniors.
"It would be great to go out with a big victory
over Tech and it is a big win if we can get it every year, but it would be especially
sweet this year," said Stafford of the rivalry.
Stafford like many of his teammates hopes a win against
Tech will propel them to a better bowl game, but he is uncertain where they
will end up.
"To tell you the truth I have no idea how the bowls
work," said Stafford. "It was a heck of a year and we have had tough
struggles, but there have been some things I can really learn from and hopefully
we can go out on top."
The Georgia Tech defense Stafford will face Saturday has
racked up 29 sacks this season, which is more than any team Georgia has faced
this season. The Bulldog offensive line has not given up a sack since the Florida
"Georgia Tech is fast and creative with what they
bring and they do a great job as a zone blitz team. They have been doing that
for a while and everyone knows it, but it is still tough because they bring
it from all different directions and do a great job of playing coverage behind
it. It is one of those things were you have to be disciplined," said Stafford
of the Georgia Tech defense.
Stafford and the offensive players have seen most of the
blitzes Georgia Tech uses, but in different games and not on consecutive plays.
"We have seen most of their blitzes this year from other teams, but not
at one time and on every down like they do," said Stafford. "They
bring pressure on almost every down."
Two Seniors Start at DT
Dale Dixson and Ray Gant will
start at defensive tackle in the their final home game at Georgia.
Dixson will make his third career start for the Bulldogs
Saturday while Gant will start his sixteenth start at Georgia against the Yellow
Jackets. Defensive line coach
Rodney Garner decided to honor his two
best seniors and let sophomore
Jeff Owens come off the bench for the
first time this year.
"Ray is coming off a really good game against Auburn
and hopefully he can use that as a spring board because we need him to have
that same kind of game this week," said Garner. "Dale has done a
good job for us this year and it seems like it was just yesterday when he came
here and now it is senior day. They are good guys and we will miss them."
The only other senior defensive tackle
may have a chance to play Saturday as well if coach Garner can get him into
"We hope and pray it goes that way because Marquis
has been a tremendous asset to this program whether the statistics show it or
not. I know this program has benefited from having Marquis Elmore in this program,"
Milner's Hopes for a win against Tech and
Senior tight end Martrez Milner has had a tumultuous
senior season in Athens and he hopes his senior class can finish out the 2006
regular season with a victory over Georgia Tech.
"I think this game and the Auburn game will determine
how people remember this senior class. The Auburn game was a great celebration
for us in the locker room, but this one is special for us seniors because it
is our last game in Sanford Stadium so we want to go out with a bang,"
said Milner. "At the end of the game when I realize it is over and hopefully
this will not be my last game playing football."
Milner hopes the Georgia Tech game and the bowl game
are not his final moments as a football player. Milner thinks he has a shot
at the NFL and thinks he may be a solid NFL prospect at tight end.
"The NFL has been my goal and that is one of the
reasons I play football, so hopefully the NFL is a route for me and if not I
have my degree to fall back on and I want to get a masters degree in sports
medicine," said Milner.
Danny Ware was back at full strength in practice Wednesday
and was out of his green jersey.
Georgia had only three players Michael Turner
(ankle), Sean Bailey (knee), and Ben Wilson (knee)
in non-contact green jerseys.
Turner will play in the Georgia Tech game and senior
wide receiver Mario Raley, Ware and junior Kregg Lumpkin are
all ready for action Saturday.
Other Notes and Quotes
"We are practicing the same and preparing the same,
we are just executing better," said Richt of the team red zone execution.
"When you analyze it or look at the film, it all comes back to everybody
doing their job, and we are doing a good job of execution. We have had a lot
of years when we struggled at times in there and we have just done a good job
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