Unexpected Break for Dawgs

When the No. 9 Bulldogs loaded buses at their Butts Mehre practice facility following normal meeting sessions, they thought they were headed to the Ramsey Center for conditioning drills. Instead, when they unloaded, Coach Mark Richt led them to the diving well in the Gabrielsen Natatorium and gave them free reign.

"They needed a break," Mark Richt said. "It's been a grind. I just thought we needed a little camaraderie."

Georgia doesn't play Saturday and will take off today through Sunday. The Bulldogs (7-2, 4-2 SEC) will return to the practice field Monday to begin preparations for the Nov. 15 Auburn game.

Georgia lost 16-13 to Florida last week and practiced on the field just two days this week before Thursday's excursion.

"It was awesome," kicker Billy Bennett said. "Two years ago, I don't think these coaches would have done anything like that. Now since they're doing such a good job of coaching they don't overworry about things."

Bennett said the trip did help draw the team closer together.

"Anytime you lose everybody starts looking at the this and that, and it starts to separate people," he said. "I think it definitely did what (the coaches) wanted it to do."

The bravery of his team impressed Richt. He estimated 40 Bulldogs went off the 10-meter high board.

"A lot more guys jumped than I thought would," he said.

Offensive tackle Daniel Inman was one of the few players to go off the high dive head first, Richt said.

"I wouldn't call it a swan dive, maybe a hippopotamus dive," he said.

Reserve defensive back Chris Burgett did a front flip off the high dive, although Richt said the flip was strictly in self defense. Wide receiver Michael Johnson did a double backflip off the five-meter board, Richt said.

Even Richt, a native of Boca Raton, Fla., got in on the act, Bennett said, wowing his players by going off the high dive backward and performing a textbook back flip.

"It was crazy. He's got kids to think about," Bennett said. "That's that ole' gung-ho quarterback in him."

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