THE TEN AT 10:
1. Here’s an interesting factoid about Georgia’s game against Florida in Jacksonville on Saturday: Bulldogs coach Mark Richt will be facing his fifth different Gators’ head coach.
Richt, who has been at UGA for 15 seasons now, has already gone against Steve Spurrier, Ron Zook, Urban Meyer and Will Muschamp. On Saturday, he’ll be facing Florida’s Jim McElwain for the first time.
Collectively, Richt is 5-9 against the Gators. Head-to-head he is 0-1 against Spurrier, 1-2 vs. Zook, 1-5 vs. Meyer and 3-1 against Muschamp. Richt has never gone against McElwain, a former Alabama assistant who spent the previous three seasons as head coach at Colorado State.
“Most of them have whooped me, so I don’t know that it means a whole lot,” Richt said at his weekly news conference on Tuesday.
“I know Jim is a great coach. What he did at Colorado State was pretty impressive. … And then he walked into a situation where there’s a really fine talent base and he got everybody going in the right direction in a hurry. Certainly Coach Muschamp deserves some credit as far as the talent base that’s still in the house there. But Coach McElwain and his staff have done a great job of getting everybody on the same page and getting them rolling.”
While Richt’s 5-9 mark against the Gators is certainly nothing to bark about, it represents a slight improvement over his predecessors the previous 14 years. Georgia was 4-10 against Florida in the 14 seasons before Richt arrived. That includes a 2-0 end to Vince Dooley’s tenure and a 1-0 start to Ray Goff’s. The Bulldogs had lost 10 of their last 11 to the Gators when Richt took over in 2001.
Georgia still leads the overall series with Florida 50-41-2.
2. Speaking of trying to beat the Gators, Richt took an interesting phone call on his radio show Monday night.
The first caller of the night told Richt that he badly needed the Bulldogs to beat Florida on Saturday because he was tired of defending Richt to all his friends who want him fired. But he said it in kind of a harsh way which Richt picked up on.
Richt responded: “Well, I appreciate you defending me, if you do. The bottom line is we are going to get after Florida, that’s for sure. And I don’t worry about all that other stuff.”
3. As if Dominick Sanders having to miss the first half of Saturday’s game against Florida wasn’t bad enough, here’s another negative about that little wrinkle – Sanders can’t even be on the sideline while he’s sitting out.
That’s right. According to the NCAA’s targeting rule, a player who has been disqualified due to an illegal hit is not permitted to watch the game from his team’s bench. That stipulation extends to circumstances when the disqualification is spread over two games.
Sanders was flagged for targeting with 7:35 left in the third quarter of Georgia’s 9-6 win over Missouri On Oct. 17. The penalty occurred on third down and 10 yards to go when Sanders broke up a pass intended for Emanuel Hall in the flat. Sanders made helmet-to-helmet contact with Hall as he tried to haul in the pass near the Missouri sideline. The call was upheld after a short review, as is standard operating procedure.
Richt admitted after the game that he felt the officials got the call right. Sanders’ teammates weren’t quite so sure.
“Tough call,” senior linebacker Jake Ganus said. “There was no intent to hurt the receiver or anything like that. Dom is a great player … and he was just trying to make a play. I think he did hit the head, but he was clearly just trying to make a play. He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.”
4. Ultimately the penalty didn’t cost the Bulldogs. Not then at least. Missouri was awarded 15 yards and a first down but had to punt from its own 28 four plays later. And Georgia, trailing 6-3 at the time, came back to win the game.
The true concern is how it might affect the Bulldogs this Saturday. Sanders, though just a sophomore, is by far Georgia’s best defensive back. He leads the team with two interceptions and has 30 tackles. Generally he lines up at free safety in coach Jeremy Pruitt’s defense, but he can truly play anywhere in the secondary and is the primary voice for making calls.
Meanwhile, while the Gators rushed for 418 yards against Georgia last year, that’s not their preferred method of advancing the football this season. Florida averages 249.57 yards passing per game, which accounts for 66.3 percent of its offensive production. Fourteen of its touchdowns have come through the air.
As for who replaces Sanders, Richt said Sunday they will likely go with junior Quincy Mauger and freshman Johnathan Abram at the safeties. That’s how they finished the game against Missouri as those players had three and four tackles, respectively. Richt also pointed out sophomore cornerback Aaron Davis can play safety.
“We’re gonna have to figure out exactly what we’re gonna do in this particular game,” Richt said.
5. While Sanders will be out a half, several key defensive players will be making their way back to the field on Saturday. Chief among them, Jordan Jenkins.
Jenkins, a senior outside linebacker and unquestioned emotional leader of the defense, leads the Bulldogs with three sacks and nine quarterback hurries. He missed the Missouri game and most of the Tennessee game with a groin injury.
Also coming back for the Bulldogs are defensive linemen Chris Mayes and John Atkins. Mayes, a 6-4, 323-pound senior, had started every game at noseguard before getting scratched right before the Missouri kick off due to a knee injury.
Atkins, a 6-4, 300-pound junior, had started three games at defensive tackle before freshman Trent Thompson took over in recent weeks.
6. Also expected to make his way back to the practice fields this week is tailback Sony Michel. The 5-11, 212-pound is quite banged up after two straight weeks as the Bulldogs’ primary ball carrier. Michel left the Missouri game briefly in the first quarter and returned to the locker room to relieve tightness in his hips and groin.
Michel did not practice at all during the bye last week but is expected to return to work Tuesday as the Bulldogs continue to install their game plan for Florida.
Michel has found the going tougher since taking over for the injured Nick Chubb on the second play of the Tennessee game. In the last two games he has rushed for 232 yards on 48 carries – and average of 4.83 yards per carry — but managed just 87 on 26 carries against Missouri. That represented the first time in 14 games Georgia had failed to have a back rush for 100 yards.
Florida looks to be equally difficult against the run. The Gators are 21st in the nation and fifth in SEC in rushing defense at 116.6 yards per game.
7. Chubb, by the way, underwent “successful” knee surgery this past Friday.
I put successful in quotes because, at least where sports injuries are concerned, I can’t think of a time where I’ve heard it announced that there was an unsuccessful surgery. Nevertheless, the prognosis is very good for Georgia’s star tailback.
The procedure went extremely well,” said Ron Courson, UGA’s director of sports medicine. “Following his discharge, Nick will start his rehabilitation program and we are optimistic for a full recovery.”
Georgia still won’t offer a timeline for Chubb’s return. But because it was a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) repair and not an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), it has been projected that the rising junior will be back in plenty of time to open the 2016 season.
That’s a comforting thought as Chubb was averaging 8.1 yards per carry and averaging more than 125 yards a game when he went out on the first play of the Tennessee game.
8. The Georgia men’s basketball team is just over a week away from tipping off the 2015-16 campaign. The Bulldogs will host Armstrong Atlantic in an exhibition game at Stegeman Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 6. The season officially gets under way with the season opener against Chattanooga on Nov. 13th.
One of the keys to Georgia’s success this season is going to be how well sophomore Yante Maten is able to step into a starting role and fill the post scoring and defense role filled so well by Marcus Thornton and Nemi Djurisic last season.
If nothing else, Maten appears physically up for the challenge. He and his coach insists he still carries 240 pounds on his 6-8 frame, but he looks completely different.
“He just redistributed it,” coach Mark Fox said of Maten’s weight. “He’s done what all of us as we age would hope to do. … He’s certainly shaped up really well.That’s a credit to Yante’s efforts and our strength coach in the weight room. He put a lot of work in downstairs in our building and I think he’s reaping the benefits of that.”
Georgia can only hope. In losing forwards Thornton and Djurisic to graduation, the Bulldogs lost 23.3 points and 12.5 rebounds a game. Maten averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds while serving as the primary post backup as a freshman last season.
“It definitely was a set goal because last year, coming in after Nemi and Marcus, I often got tired quickly; more tired than I usually did compared to high school,” said Maten, a sophomore from Pontiac, Mich. “I wasn’t sure what that was from, but I just decided during the summer offseason I’d get my body into shape where I’d be able to play bigger amounts of minutes without getting tired. So that’s what I tried to do.”
9. Football is not the only competition going on between Florida and Georgia this week. The rivalry extends to good works.
Students from the two schools will be competing this week to see who can raise the most money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In what UGA students are calling the “Stomp the Chomp” initiative, they’ll be our trying to raise funds to their dedicated website, ugamiracle.org. Florida students will be doing the same.
10. Another competition with Florida will be taking place on the pitch on Thursday. Georgia’s women’s soccer team will play host to the Gators at the Jack Turner Soccer Complex. And like the football game, the Bulldogs will be the underdog.
Florida leads the SEC in soccer at 13-3-1 overall and 7-2-1 in league play. But UGA is coming off its biggest weekend of the season, winning games against Vanderbilt and then 1-0 over Auburn this past Sunday. It was the No. 16-ranked Tigers’ first loss at home this season.
As a result of that victory, goal keeper Louise Hogrell was named SEC defensive player of the week. The Swede collected 11 saves on the weekend, conceding only one total goal.