Banged up Dawgs focus on Florida

Ron Zook sounded Sunday like he was mocking Mark Richt. "I feel like we're about as (healthy) as we possibly could be this late in the season," the Florida coach said. Richt, coach of No. 4 Georgia, can't say the same thing as he gets his team ready to face the No. 23 Gators on Saturday in Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

"It's going to be tough on us," Mark Richt said. "We're as banged up as I've seen a team be banged up. We're a tired team. I just don't know if we have enough juice. We barely had enough juice the last two weeks."

Richt's words came one day after the Bulldogs narrowly defeated UAB 16-13 in Athens. That win looked a lot like their uninspired 27-8 victory over Vanderbilt the week before. In short, it hasn't been the kind of momentum-building stretch anybody in Athens was hoping for headed into the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

"Hopefully, it will get (Florida) overconfident," senior defensive tackle Ken Veal said. "That's something to hope for."

Florida has plenty of reason to be confident. The Gators have won 12 of their last 13 including five straight in this series, but Ron Zook said none of those games will have any impact on Saturday's showdown. Neither will Georgia's previous two, he said.

"I don't think they're sluggish," he said. "They're a good football team. Believe me, you'll see their 'A' game on Saturday."

Georgia (7-1, 4-1 SEC) can take firm control of the SEC East with a victory. A Florida (5-3, 3-2) win would create a three-way tie between the Bulldogs, Gators and Tennessee atop the division.

"It's huge for both teams," Richt said. "Both teams are still in it, and Tennessee still has a stake in it, too. Mathematically, all kind of things can happen if Florida wins the game."

The only math Richt is worried about this week though is counting up how many players he'll have available. The Bulldogs, who have already lost six players to season-ending injuries, got some good news Sunday when they learned defensive lineman Ray Gant doesn't have a broken leg. Still, he remains doubtful for the game.

The good news for Georgia fans is that Richt expects defensive end David Pollack, who sat out three-quarters of Saturday's game after being leg-whipped, will be back this week.

"I think he'll play," Richt said. "He's that kind of guy."

Cornerback Decory Bryant was taken to an Athens hospital Sunday night for treatment of his neck injury, and his season looks to be over. Wide receiver Fred Gibson (knee) remains questionable, along with fullbacks Jamario Smith (back) and Jeremy Thomas (concussion). Other than those five, all of Georgia's players who aren't out of the season probably will play against the Gators, Richt indicated.

The Bulldogs are heading into their fifth game in five weeks, while the Gators are coming off an open date that Zook said couldn't have come at a better time. Given up for dead following a 20-17 loss to Ole Miss on Oct. 4, Florida has rebounded to win at LSU and at Arkansas.

"I hope we have exactly the same feeling this week as we did going into the LSU game," Zook said. "We've got a lot to prove yet."

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