October 29, 2009

Special teams could be huge

To have a chance in Saturday's game against top-ranked Florida, Georgia coach Mark Richt knows each and every phase needs to be working as well as possible.

That includes special teams.

It's definitely been a mix bag of results in that department for the Bulldogs, who have struggled on kickoff coverage but also have a challenge facing them when it comes to returning punts.

The Gators have yet to allow a single punt to be returned all season.

Bulldog punt returned Prince Miller is averaging 14.4 yards on 11 returns.

"There are six phases of special teams, and if you win four out of six, you win the special teams game," Richt said during Thursday's pre-practice press conference. "It's a situation where you are going against one of the better special teams in the league and the country. It will be a challenge. Everybody is going to be up for it."

Fortunately, Richt feels good about where his team stands heading into Saturday's 3:30 game.

The Bulldogs practiced one final time Thursday night at Sanford Stadium.

"I feel good about the preparation that we've had to this point. This is the last little bit in the stadium with the crowd noise before we feel like we've done everything we can do. With the crowd noise, you have to concentrate and you have to focus."

The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week following the 34-10 win over Vanderbilt on Oct. 17. This marks the sixth time in the history of the series that Georgia enters the game after an open date. The last time it happened was in 2007 when No. 20 Georgia upset No. 9 Florida 42-30.

A Bulldog victory would be huge in several respects.

Not only would it get Georgia feeling good about itself again after its 4-3 start, but it would give the Bulldogs a recruiting boost as well, particularly in the Sunshine State where the program has already made significant inroads.

"This game is big. All games are big," Richt said. "If people feel that you are a first-class program and a program that can win, they'll be really interested in you. Georgia, once we get them campus, it sells itself. It's a beautiful place. If they study our educational opportunities, they're awesome, then they see a game between the hedges or see us on TV, they've got a good a chance as anybody to get the best kids in the country."

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