ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia returns to its practice fields today with an edict from Coach Mark Richt to maintain momentum gained in winning its last three regular-season games.
After a break of almost two weeks since wrapping up an 8-3 regular season with a 35-7 win over Houston, No. 16 Georgia will begin preparing for its Dec. 28 Music City Bowl date against Boston College.
Today is the last day of fall semester final exams. Any thoughts that bowl practice might have a more relaxed atmosphere than regular-season drills will end when Richt begins two-a-day drills on Monday.
While Richt plans to take longer looks at some younger players in bowl practice, he wants to set the tone from the start that the most important goal is to win the bowl game, not to begin looking toward the 2002 season.
"The thing I'm happy about toward the end of the year is we got better and better in tackling,'' Richt said. "We have to make sure we don't lose the edge.''
In closing the season with wins over Mississippi, Georgia Tech and Houston, Georgia allowed an average of only 13 points.
"Toward the end of year we got back to fundamentals,'' Richt said. "I hope that will carry over into the game because if we don't tackle well, it will be a long day for us.''
The Georgia defense will hear a lot in the next two weeks about Boston College running back William Green, a junior who could be the top back taken in next April's NFL draft if he leaves school.
Green rushed for 1,559 yards in 10 games to rank second in the nation in yards rushing per game. He topped 100 yards nine times and has four career 200-yard games. In a win over Notre Dame, Green had 28 carries for 195 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run, while adding a 70-yard scoring reception.
"(Defensive coordinator Brian) VanGorder is going to have to figure out what to do with him,'' said Richt. "We've faced some pretty good backs. Some of them have had their way with us.''
Auburn's Carnell "Cadillac'' Williams rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-17 win over Georgia. Florida's Earnest Graham rushed for 131 yards in a 24-10 win over the Bulldogs. Tennessee's Travis Stephens rushed for 176 yards but still Georgia beat the Vols, 26-24.
Like Georgia, Boston College spent the 2000 bowl season in Hawaii. While Georgia was beating Virginia in the Oahu Bowl, Boston College beat Arizona State 31-17 in the Aloha Bowl to complete a 7-5 season.
After landing the Eagles' third straight bowl bid, Boston College coach Tom O'Brien is considered a leading candidate for the Georgia Tech opening. Richt said Georgia will consider "a couple of position changes'' during bowl practice, including a switch for backup quarterback Matt Redding (6-2, 223) to defense.
"There are a few others we're discussing,'' Richt said.
NOTES: Since the bowl bid was announced Sunday, Georgia has sold approximately 5,000 of its original allotment of 12,000 tickets for the game, associate athletics director for tickets Freddy Jones said Thursday afternoon. ... Recruiting has taken the coaches' attention the last two weeks, and commitments on the road will force some coaches, including Richt, to miss at least one practice the next few days.