September 18, 2011

Still room to grow

Although Georgia coach Mark Richt sees his team as one which he believes will get better as the year goes along, he's not na´ve when it comes to some of the issues that need to start being addressed, beginning with Saturday afternoon's game at Ole Miss.

"The thing I like is we're a team that is getting better as we go, but we've got a lot of room to grow yet," Richt said during his weekly Sunday teleconference. "Besides the (South Carolina) game, where we had four or five mistakes that really got us, I thought we were making a lot of progress and doing a lot of positive things. But as you watch tape it's still pretty obvious we've got some youth and inexperience that we need to improve. Just overall I think we're a team that is on the rise, but we'll see."

Richt hopes his team's first true road test in Oxford, Miss. (12:21 p.m., SEC-TV) will begin to help in that regard.

"Playing that first SEC game away from home, hopefully we'll get a better feel for what kind of progress we've really made," Richt said.

Richt certainly hopes that will be the case.

At 1-2, 0-1 in the SEC, the Bulldogs are about to hit a stretch of four consecutive conference games before their first open date.

But first things first, a date with a Rebel squad (1-2, 0-1) still smarting from a 30-7 loss at Ole Miss, a game which saw Houston Nutt's squad throw five interceptions.

"There's a sense of urgency if we want to stay in this Eastern Division race. We've got to win," Richt said. "The bottom line is we want to have the best record in the East and if you tie you better have the tie breaker on your side and right now we've lost control of our destiny in this thing. Like I've said earlier, there's so many more games to be played, but right now our goal is to win our first SEC game - period - this year. That's all we're worried about right this minute."

After Saturday's contest against the Rebels, Georgia returns home to face Mississippi State (Oct. 1) before back-to-back road games at Tennessee (Oct. 8) and Vanderbilt (Oct. 15).

Following an open date, the Bulldogs will travel to Jacksonville, Fla. (Oct. 29) for the annual contest with Florida, but the last thing Richt wants to do with this particular squad is get caught looking too far ahead.

To do so could prove a disaster, especially for a team whose margin for error is not particularly great.

"You can do anything quickly. All you can do is play the game you're going to play that week. We're about to have a string of Southeastern Conference games here, four in a row before our open date and the bottom line is we've got to take the games as we come, play the very best that we can, deal with whatever injuries we've got and put the best guys on the field that we can," Richt said. "We need to try to come up with a plan where we can put it in the hands of these players and let them make the plays. I think we have enough guys to make plays. I think we've got a good chemistry with this team, a lot of positive things that we're going to try and continue to build on. But we can't make the clock go any faster than it does."

NOTES: On the injury front, Richt indicated that he expects wide receiver Marlon Brown (ankle) and Richard Samuel (heel contusion) to be able to play against Ole Miss. As of Sunday night, he was still unclear as to the status of defensive end DeAngelo Tyson (strained back) along with offensive guard Kenarious Gates who missed his second straight game with an injured ankle. Richt hopes that linebacker Christian Robinson (foot) will be available for Mississippi State.

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]