ATHENS – It was a bye week, so that meant Georgia got to spend two full weeks worrying about Florida, installing its gameplan, and practicing the plays it will use against Florida … right?
Not quite, actually.
Technically, yes, a team has two weeks to prepare for its next opponent. But neither Georgia or Florida chose to use it exactly that way.
Rather than install the gameplan last Monday and get right to it, the Bulldogs spent much of the bye week working on fundamentals, resting regulars who needed it, and giving younger players a chance to show out in practice. They didn’t really get around to worrying much about the gameplan until Thursday, the final practice of the week.
Georgia did not install its gameplan for Florida last Monday and get right to it. Instead, as it typically does in bye weeks, the Bulldogs spent much of the week working on fundamentals, and didn’t worry much about gameplan installing until Thursday’s practice, the final one of the week.
“This week is really all about us — getting ourselves better,” Georgia senior linebacker Jake Ganus said.
That’s typically how Georgia handles bye weeks, coach Mark Richt said. It’s not that the Bulldogs took the week off: Wednesday and Thursday were full-pads practices. But the emphasis was on Georgia’s own team, rather than Florida. Nobody was in a scout-team jersey, for instance. That’ll wait until next week. And key players nursing minor injuries, most notably tailback Sony Michel, sat out the week to rest up.
“This week is mainly about recovery and just getting better individually and as a team,” Ganus said. “We’re worried about ourselves right now. We’ve got a five game stretch and the end and we need to finish strong.”
Lest anyone think Georgia (5-2, coming off a three-point home win to Missouri) is alone in this approach, Florida coach Jim McElwain said his approach is essentially the same this week: A bit of look-ahead preparation, but mostly looking inward.
“I kind of believe in using this week for fundamentals and getting better against each other,” McElwain said. “We’ll start normal game plan as we would any opponent from there.”
That doesn’t mean the teams won’t be on a normal practice schedule next week.
In Georgia’s case, it usually spends the Monday practice after a game “cleaning up” the previous game, going over mistakes that were made and practicing the corrections. Since that was already done this week, the team can hit the field Monday in full-tilt preparation for Florida.
“So we’re ahead of the game, and Sunday we’ll be a little further along,” Richt said.
But first Richt is giving his team some time off. There will be no practice Friday through Sunday, and the players are allowed to go home after Thursday’s practice, and use the weekend however they want it. Richt spoke to the team before Thursday’s practice about using the time wisely.
As for this week’s practices, senior receiver Malcolm Mitchell said the main difference was the amount of fundamental drills. He said it’s good to get back to basics after a long stretch of strict game preparation.
“At the beginning of the season you’re walking into the first game coming off a fall camp which is constant fundamentals being drilled, drilled, drilled. And then that last week before the game you start gameplanning,” Mitchell said.
“But during the season it’s all gameplanning. So being able to go back to the fundamentals is something I think we need as a team.”