September 5, 2008

Focus needed

[tm]Central Michigan [/tm]coach Butch Jones is no stranger to the [tm]Georgia[/tm] football program.

Jones was on the staff at West Virginia in 2005 when the Mountaineers beat the Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl. But when asked to compare that group of Bulldogs to this year's second-ranked squad, Jones said the difference is like night and day.

"Their difference in team speed now is so much greater than it was then," Jones said. "And I'm talking both sides of the ball, offense and defense. This is going to be a great challenge, no question about it."

Kickoff Saturday is 3:30 p.m. at Sanford Stadium in a game that will be televised live on FSN South.

"It's another chance to play a game at home and another chance to get better at what we do and hopefully get a victory," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I thought our team didn't finish quite as well last week as I would like for them to finish. "

For example, after jumping out a 38-0 lead against Georgia Southern, Richt felt the team, particularly the defense, failed to maintain the intensity he and the rest of the coaches expected throughout the course of the game.

As a result, the Eagles responded with 21 second-half points, making what was no question a rout look closer than it actually was.

"After watching the film I felt like our offense played harder than our defense. They played harder longer. In the first half I don't think anyone could have played much harder than we played offensively and defensively," Richt said. "But as the game wore on I thought the offense's stamina was greater. I thought they played harder to the finish and the defense didn't quite finish like they should. We will be emphasizing that for sure to play the full 60 minutes and play with an attitude and a mental edge that I think we lost as the game wore on."

Linebacker Rennie Curran agreed.

"Coach always talks about 'finishing the drill' and we didn't do that," Curran said. "There were some other mistakes that we need to correct, starting on Saturday."

For the second in as many weeks, heat could be a factor.

The Bulldogs (1-0) didn't a fare to well in that department either, said Richt, pointing out the fact that a number of players suffered through cramps and fatigue.

Among those was running back Knowshon Moreno, who pulled up holding the back of his cramping right leg while scoring this third touchdown against the Eagles.

"Finishing strong is one of the top concerns right now," Richt said. "But this week's weather pattern has been little bit more conducive to getting acclimated to what we will play in Saturday. That is a big issue for us."

Richt said Georgia will need to be at its physical best against Central Michigan whose desire under Jones and touted quarterback Dan LeFevour is to use its fast-paced spread offense as a means to tire their opponents out.

Although the Bulldogs will be playing their second spread offense in as many weeks, the difference between Saturday and last weekend could be startling.

"I knew the strategy last week would be to run plays quickly, make you get lined up and ready to play, run plays where you don't hold the ball long and make you chase," Richt said. "They know how hard we practice and how hard we play. If you get a defensive lineman who is going to rush the passer as hard as he can, then turn and chase the ball as hard as he can it starts to wear on him.

"You have to start substituting. Then they get to the line of scrimmage and simulate like they are going to go quick and sit on the line. If you watched our guys I don't know how many times they were sitting there for 15 seconds. That's hard to do. They are not here to physically pound you. They are here to wear you out in another way. That's the same philosophy that Central Michigan has too. It's a good philosophy."

There's good news and bad news on the injury front for Georgia.

The bad news, as most Bulldog fans know by now, is that senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens tore the ACL in his right knee and will be out for the year.

In his place, senior Corvey Irvin steps into the starting lineup with freshman DeAngelo Tyson jumping past Ricardo Crawford and into the second-team rotation with Brandon Wood.

While Irvin is expected to be a lot more than just an adequate replacement, Georgia's depth at the position will be tepid for another week until Kade Weston (MCL ) comes back for next week's game at [tm]South Carolina[/tm].

The return of Clint Boling from a one-game suspension gives a noticeable boost to the Bulldogs' offensive line. Boling, who will take over as the starter at right tackle, will solidify a line that played a commendable game last week against Georgia Southern, surrendering just one sack of quarterbackMatthew Stafford who threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles.

For Central Michigan, the Chippewas (1-0) will go just as far as LeFevour takes them. After combining for 4,700 yards of total offense last fall (3,600 passing, 1,100 rushing), the 6-3, 229-pound LeFevour has drawn comparisons to Florida's Tim Tebow for his ability to hurt a team with his legs as well as his arm.

"Not only is our team built around Dan, but he's one of our biggest leaders," Jones said. "His work ethic is extreme, we've got great confidence in him and our guys all play well around him. Obviously, we've got a lot of work in front of us for Saturday, but whatever success we're going to have, a lot is going to depend on him."

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