"It was a long, hard fight for us," head coach Mark Richt said on his weekly teleconference. "We lost out first game in league play against South Carolina and were stuck behind them for quite awhile. We knew if we kept battling, we had a chance to win the East. We improved week by week and finally got the help that we needed to get to the championship game. We were really excited to get the win over Georgia Tech last weekend, but our young men have turned their focus to this weekend."
The Bulldogs have been tested during the regular season, but their biggest test will come on Saturday against a team that has proved to be tough throughout the year.
"We are a team that improved as the season went on," Richt continued. "We have done a lot of good things since game two that have helped us get the chance to play for the title. LSU is strong, quick and physical up front on both sides of the ball. Their front seven is tough and athletic, their defensive backs are fast and great cover guys who play with a lot of confidence. I have seen enough film of them on offense that I know that they tend to wear people out during the game. Their goal is to break the spirit of every time that they play. I don't know how we stack up against them but we'll find out this weekend."
One thing that the team will be focusing on this week is not allowing LSU to go on big runs during the game.
"Everyone has to keep their composure and keep fighting," added Richt. "From what I see, it's not just the LSU offense that will make plays, the defense and special teams will make plays too. Before you know all three phases make a play that might result in 21 points in a short amount of time. If something bad happens, you have to shake it off, get back to work and regroup. If you let that get to you, then you're in bad shape."
Georgia came out of the game against Georgia Tech relatively healthy. Richt is hopeful that Richard Samuel will be back in the lineup this week after suffering an ankle injury earlier this season. Isaiah Crowell will also be back on the field after sitting out last weekend with an ankle injury. DeAngelo Tyson will not be available for practice on Monday, but his status for Saturday's game is still unknown.
Saturday's game mark the second time this season that the Bulldogs have played in the Georgia Dome. Georgia dropped a 35-21 decision to Boise State in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic to start the season. Richt is hopeful that having played in the Dome this season will benefit the team but doesn't think the experience will be play a huge role in the outcome.
"I think there might be some benefit in playing in the dome again," Richt said. "The thing that you have to remember is that when the ball is snapped you have to get after it, especially when were playing such a good team. For us, I don't think it's a bad thing that we've played there and experience the stadium."
One thing is certain, Richt understands how instrumental the senior class has been in the success of this season.
"Those guys decided to stick around for their senior year and that decision to stay says a lot," continued Richt. "They knew we could have a special season and chose to stay. In the offseason, they had to make a decision on whether or not to buy into what we were doing here. They decided to buy in so when we did go 0-2, we were still a strong bunch of guys. They kept working hard and kept the team focused. They are a big part of the reason that we were able to weather the storm and start winning."