Dawgs Get Back Practice

ATHENS – Two weeks after they last put on pads, the Georgia football team returned to the practice field on Saturday.

And now it will take another three days off before resuming preparation for the Liberty Bowl.

For a team that began the season harboring SEC title hopes, a lower-tier bowl may seem a hard motivational ploy. But various players have reasons to be interested.

The seniors don't want to end their careers with a loss. Neither do juniors who may head early to the NFL, such as A.J. Green, Justin Houston and others who are considering it.

Sophomore receiver Marlon Brown, a Memphis native, would like to show out in front of a hometown crowd.

And for everyone in the program, a 7-6 record would look a lot different than 6-7.

"Oh yeah," agreed senior linebacker Akeem Dent. "It's always to be over .500 to end the year."

In a perverse way, the team's poor start to the season also helps. While a team that wheezed to the finish would be eager for the season to end, the Bulldogs started 1-4, and had to beat Georgia Tech in the regular season finale to clinch a bowl trip.

"I think it did (help)," Dent said. "Because starting out 1-4 is something we didn't plan on doing. But then again guys continued to fight, no one gave up, no one gave in."

Freshman quarterback Aaron Murray said a win over Central Florida could give the team some momentum for next year.

"You never wanna have that bad taste heading into the offseason," Murray said. "You wanna feel good, feel we had a great game, we beat a conference championship team. So (it would) definitely be a good little boost heading into the offseason."

Still, there were signs on Saturday of the program looking forward, even as it resumed practice.

A number of recruits were in Athens on official visits. Head coach Mark Richt didn't end up meeting with the media because he had meetings most of the afternoon with recruits and their families.

The Bulldogs were hoping to add to their commitment list this weekend, and have been targeting several players who could make an immediate impact. The biggest names in town were defensive end Ray Drew (Thomas County Central High School), tight end Jay Rome (Valdosta) and defensive back Damian Swann (Grady).

But recruiting isn't the entire focus right now, according to Richt. At a Thursday press conference in Memphis to promote the Liberty Bowl, he said some of his assistants had requested more time to be on the road recruiting.

"They're looking at the bowl practice schedule and they're like `Coach, can you change this? Can you change that? Can you move it back here so we can get back in the homes more?'" Richt said. "I said, Look, the best recruiting we can do is win this football game."

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