Georgia Reacts to Zook's Firing

ATHENS -- Georgia quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo has played for and against a lame duck head coach, and his experiences don't make him eager to face Florida this week.

The Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) fired third-year coach Ron Zook on Monday but announced Zook will finish out the year, which means he'll be on the sideline Saturday at 3 p.m. coaching against the No. 10 Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1).

Mike Bobo played for Georgia in 1995 when Ray Goff was fired the week before the Georgia Tech game. The Bulldogs went on to beat the Yellow Jackets 18-17.

"I really think that (Florida's players) are going to rally around their coach," Bobo said. "That's what we did under Coach Goff."

That's also what Kentucky did against the Bulldogs in 1996 the week after coach Bill Curry was fired. The Wildcats were 1-6 coming into the game.

"And they whipped our butts (24-17)," Bobo said. "I threw three picks that helped."

Bobo's thoughts were typical of most of the Bulldogs' reaction to the news. The Gators will rise to the challenge this week and play inspired football Saturday, they believe.

"I hate to see anybody lose their job, and I'm sorry for Coach Zook that it happened, I really am," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "My guess is the players will be very adamant about playing hard for Coach Zook and that entire coaching staff. Hopefully, I can get our guys to match that level of intensity."

"From what I hear they liked that coach," linebacker Odell Thurman said, "so they'll be motivated and ready to play."

Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway was on Mike DuBose's staff at Alabama in 2000 when DuBose was fired before the final game of the season. There are challenges, he admitted, but they usually don't get in the way of the action on the field.

"It's very tough on the players and coaches to try to stay focused," he said. "It's a distraction, but there are always lots of distractions."

Georgia tight end Leonard Pope narrowly chose the Bulldogs over Florida in a recruiting battle, and he remembers Zook fondly.

"I just wish the best for those guys," he said. "They were a great coaching staff. (The players) are going to play very hard, and we're going to play very hard. This is Georgia-Florida. This is going to be a bloodbath."

Quarterback David Greene said he thinks the shock of Monday will be a memory by Saturday.

"They're going through a whole whirlwind right now," he said. "There could be a lot of distractions down there, but when it comes to playing the game, there aren't any distractions."

The only less-than-sympathetic voice was senior wide receiver Fred Gibson's. He didn't have anything bad to say about the Gators, but he made it clear he was thinking only about his team.

"That's their problem to worry about, not ours," he said. "We're trying to just stay focused on our team. If they get their thing together, they get their thing together."

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