Georgia fans can thank Tulane for this.

Before Tulane backed out of three games, a decision which resulted in Georgia suing the school, the No. 4 Bulldogs had an open date scheduled for the upcoming weekend. Georgia didn't learn the Green Wave was pulling out of this year's game until late 2002 and had to scramble to add an opponent.

The Bulldogs settled on UAB early this year, but had to play the Blazers this weekend to accommodate their schedule. The change is significant because of what lies down the road.

In two weeks, Georgia will play No. 25 Florida, which has an open date this weekend. The Bulldogs would all but assure themselves the SEC East championship with a victory over Florida, but first they must deal with UAB (3-4).

"I don't know what is going to go through (our players') minds, but UAB better go through their minds is all I have to say," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "This last game hopefully served notice that we don't need to do anything but get really excited about this game we're playing this week."

Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) had to erase a 2-0 halftime deficit Saturday on the way to a 27-8 win over Vanderbilt. After watching game film, Richt said he still couldn't tell definitively if his team looked past the Commodores.

"I thought the effort was good," he said. "It wasn't great, it wasn't unbelievable, but it was good. There weren't guys loafing around out there by any means. I don't know if they were playing as hard as they could play, but they were playing pretty hard."

He did admit that he'd like to have an extra week to figure out that and other things before playing Florida, winners of five straight and 12 of the last 13 against Georgia.

"It'll be helpful for (the Gators) because I know when we had the week off we really came out of the box fresh and feeling good," he said. "We have to find a way to be as fresh as we can possibly be."

Fresh is one thing the Bulldogs certainly aren't. Wide receivers Fred Gibson (knee) and Michael Johnson (shoulder) missed the Vanderbilt game and have no better than a 50 percent chance to return this week, Richt said Sunday.

"They don't feel 100 percent today, but they've made good progress," he said. "I don't think it's out of the question, but I wouldn't put them in the probable category."

Gibson's knee has no structural damage but is bruised on the bone just inside the kneecap.

"Some bruises are deeper than others," Richt said. "Those are a little tougher to come back from."

In addition to Gibson, starting fullback Jeremy Thomas (concussion), reserve running back Kregg Lumpkin (ankle) and starting linebacker Derrick White (foot) are questionable for the UAB game.

"We've got so many guys banged up and then the guys who are there aren't getting a lot of rest," Richt said. "It'll be a lot better when everybody is back and running full speed. We really need everybody to be healthy to be a threat offensively."

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