Will Attention to Detail Matter?

JACKSONVILLE – This year we will learn if deflection and ignoring something and paying attention to the details of something else works for Georgia.

On Tuesday, Mark Richt went through the litany of things he's done in the past during the week before the Florida game. He acknowledged – and it's always pointed out to him if he doesn't – just how much Georgia has struggled with the Mighty Gators during and before his time as head coach.

Consider: The Dawgs have lost 18 of their last 21 games against the Gators, and in that span they have lost in nearly every way possible: at home, away, on a neutral field, ranked, unranked, as the favorite, as the underdog, on a last-second play (twice), by being blown out (several times), in the rain, in cloudy conditions, under beautifully blue skies, during the day and at night.

With all of that said, Richt took a different track this year – ignore that Florida is the team Georgia will play this weekend. Ignore that the game is in Jacksonville. Perhaps ignore is the wrong way to put it – perhaps focus on other details is a better way to put it.

"It's important to know what jersey numbers they wear and what positions they play and what types of tendencies they have in the red zone or third down," Richt said Tuesday. "Those are the things we are focusing on, not so much that it's Florida."

That may be a plan that works.

For too long the focus, at least from the Georgia faithful, is that the game is against Florida. It seems like what's lost in everything are the details needed to win any game – the least of which comes against your biggest rival.

The game isn't about "Georgia" beating "Florida" for Richt, and it probably shouldn't be that way for the players, either.

"We're trying to focus real hard on not the fact that its in Jacksonville, not the fact that it's even Florida," he said. "We're looking at the team we're playing as far as their personnel, their scheme."

Richt, it seems, is getting very detailed-oriented leading up to one of the biggest games of his career – and that's never a bad thing. And it's not just the head coach… the players appear to be having a detail-oriented week, too.

"We have been paying a lot of attention to details this week. We are focusing on the little things because this game is a little more physical," defensive back Sanders Commings said.

In a way Richt is trying something new – being very focused on details. That's something, in my view, that's been a thorn in his side. If his team, which is a three-point favorite to win, pulls out the win on Saturday it will be because they executed… and execution is about the details.

The Bulldogs have turned the ball over 12 times in their last three losses to Florida. While the 2009 game was not competitive – turnovers are the unquestioned reason the Bulldogs lost in 2008 and 2010. They are also the reason Georgia isn't undefeated in the SEC in 2011.

That's about attention to detail (or lack thereof). Sure, the other team is going to make plays, but plays are made easier by a running back holding the ball too low or a quarterback not sprinting back for a hand off or making a bad decision on a read. Those are things Richt and his players can control – and they are going to have to in order to win Saturday.

"I think we are much better off focusing on the things that really truly matter," Richt said of past attempts to motivate his team in all sorts of ways leading up to the game.

Sounds like a good enough plan – even if the game is in Jacksonville.

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