Florida Week: Tuesday's Rundown

ATHENS - Georgia hit the practice field on Tuesday to prepare for its upcoming matchup with Florida.

1. Few things make a rivalry as intense as taking on one of your former players or coaches. For Georgia, Florida head coach Will Muschamp is one of the focal points in fueling the fire of this border war. Muschamp, a former Bulldog safety in the early 90s, now heads up the program he worked so hard to defeat in his college years. Mark Richt says Muschamp has made a very positive impact since joining the Gators in 2011.

"Coach [Will] Muschamp has done a very good job there at Florida," Richt said. "He's a guy we know is a former player at Georgia and someone I have gotten to know over the years. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does."

What Mushcamp does is coach his team to play smash mouth football. Richt and his staff know the only way to game plan for Florida's offense is to prepare for a team that prides itself on controlling the tempo of the game.

"Florida's going to play great defense and great special teams," Richt said. "Their offense is going to pound the football. They want to control the clock and win the turnover battle. That type of attitude is what I've seen coming into those games."

2. Georgia took the practice field in shorts and pads today, and receiver Michael Bennett was no exception. Similar to yesterday's practice, Bennett ran routes with his fellow receivers and looked to be making a speedy recovery. He even ran a few routes against the scout team defense.

"[Michael] Bennett did scout team work yesterday, which is what we had planned for him. I doubt he does anything with scout team work again today, and then the next two days are nothing but scout team work," Richt said. "He's running full speed, making cuts, catching balls and doing all of that."

While Bennett was in green along with fellow receiver Rantavious Wooten, Chris Conley was once again absent at practice. Richt gave an update concerning Conley's status on Tuesday, but the news didn't seem too promising.

"I wouldn't bet on Chris Conley right now, as far as being able to play," Richt said. "He wants to play, and we're hoping he can play. We're not planning on him playing, but we're hoping he can play. [Rantavious] Wooten will play, I think, and Reggie Davis will play."

3. Missouri's loss to South Carolina provided a much-needed spark around the practice facilities. Between that loss and its upcoming matchup with Florida, Georgia is starting to find more to play for in the next few weeks.

"I think everybody got a good little bit of juice from that. It makes us feel that there's still hope to win the SEC East, and that's what we want to do," Richt said. "It's what we're hoping to do. This game is obviously important, no matter what the situation is, but we still feel like we're in the race for the East, so it makes it a little bit more meaningful to everybody."

The race for the East is far from over. Linebacker Amarlo Herrera said he never had a doubt in his mind Georgia would still be a candidate to win the East in the final stretch of the season. However, much like the losses to early opponents Georgia encountered this season, Herrera says nothing is a given.

"I think it definitely helped a little and gave us some more hope, but I always had hope," Herrera said. "We still have to do what we have to do and go out there and take care of our business."

Though the race for the East is still anyone's game, Georgia needs no added motivation to approach the Florida game with high intensity.

"Our guys are excited about playing Florida. If you can't get excited about playing Florida in that venue, you shouldn't be a Bulldog. Period," Richt said. "I think we all understand that. I think everybody is going to get their blood pumping for that."

4. Todd Gurley continues to show how close he is to being game-ready. He was in pads and a regular contact jersey again during Tuesday's practice. He even participated in the passing work against the scout team where he ran a route across the middle for a catch. His cutting looks to be close to where it was before suffering the ankle injury. If he's still hurting, he's not showing it.

"After yesterday, I'm convinced [that he's going to play against Florida]," Richt said. "He's a complete back, and he's a dynamic player really. Hopefully he's 100 percent and we can get him some space to see what he can do."

Wide receiver Rhett McGowan said having Gurley back opens up a lot of possibilities for the offense. Not only that, but his presence takes some pressure off a passing game that's missing a few key receivers.

"It's huge to have him back because of his experience, his confidence, and his ability," McGowan said. "He is, in my opinion, the best running back in the country and he's a game changer."

5. A few key defenders are still on the mend as well, but fast progress is being made by some of those players. Safety Tray Matthews was on the practice field wearing a full contact jersey again today and even took a couple of runs at pushing the sled. His recovery seems to be coming along well, but Richt didn't make any promises of him playing in Jacksonville.

"I think right now Tray would be a bonus for us if he can, in fact, go full speed," Richt said. "I'm not saying that he wouldn't play, but I'm just saying that we're still planning without him, but he is getting some reps. The more he shows that we can do it, the better shot that he'll have at playing in the game."

Unlike Matthews, Josh Harvey-Clemons didn't participate in team drills much on Tuesday. Similar to his activity in Monday's practice, Harvey-Clemons simply paced the sidelines in a green, non-contact jersey. Harvey-Clemons hasn't shown much progress toward game shape in the observable portions of this week's practice. His recovery process will be one worth paying close attention to.

Reggie Carter was set to undergo surgery as of today to find out what his status for the rest of the season will be. If Carter is found to miss significant time, Richt said he is confident there is plenty of depth at the position.

"Reggie, I think, is having surgery today just to see what they've got. We don't know for certain, but we think it's a cartilage issue," Richt said. "[With him potentially out], we have Tim Kimbrough and Johnny O'Neal. Those are the next guys in line. They're tough thumpers. They're really good run-stopping guys, and they're helping us on special teams."


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