Dawgs look to break the streak

ATHENS - Fred Gibson wants to go see a movie. Arnold Harrison thinks Phil Jackson might help. Kedric Golston doesn't want to change a thing.

It's Florida week here, and that means Georgia's players and coaches are willing to consider anything to break the Gators' stranglehold on them. The Gators have beaten the Bulldogs six straight years and in 13 of the last 14 meetings.

No.10 Georgia (6-1, 4-1) will try again Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

Coach Mark Richt, who is 0-3 against Florida, clearly has decided to attack The Streak head on. He has mentioned it more than once during discussions of other games this year, acknowledging that his team has a mental block against the Gators, and he stayed on that topic Tuesday during his weekly news conference.

"I'm going to start answering all the questions before you ask them," he said. "What does it feel like? It doesn't feel good. It feels like a big monkey on our back, and we want to knock it off."

The Gators are the only SEC team on Georgia's schedule that Richt hasn't beaten at least once since he came to Athens. He recalled Tuesday the somber walk from the team's dressing room to the interview area in Alltel Stadium following his three losses.

"I hate that long walk down that aisle to the media room. It's like 100 yards thinking about how miserable that 15 or 20 minutes is going to be," he said, before adding "take it easy on me this year if you can."

That comment illustrates Richt's dilemma. Should he accept his team's plight and keep the mood light? Or, should he challenge his players' manhood and risk putting even more pressure on them. Prior to playing Tennessee this year, he admitted that, in regard to the team's approach to the game, "We don't know how to act after a while."

Gibson, a senior wide receiver, thinks a diversion is the answer.

"I wish when we got to Jacksonville, we'd just go to the movies," he said. "Let's got to the movies, watch ‘Friday Night Lights' and relax. That's what it's going to take, just have everybody relax.

"Everybody is so uptight about this Florida game."

Perhaps Jackson, the former NBA coach noted for his Zen-inspired approach to coaching, would make a difference.

"Maybe we can bring in Phil Jackson and do a little meditation," said Harrison, a senior linebacker. "That would relax us."

Golston, though, thinks any change in the routine would just add to the stigma.

"I wouldn't like it if they changed anything," he said. "That would really start messing with our heads."

The Bulldogs have changed their game-week plans in one way. They are now staying in St. Augustine, Fla., after spending the Friday night before the game in a Jacksonville hotel the last several years. That move is less about breaking a jinx than getting away from the hundreds of fans who pack their team hotel the weekend of the game.

"Nobody wants to keep signing autographs while you're going in and out of meetings," Golston said. "It shouldn't be that way, we should be getting ready to play Florida."

The Bulldogs are a seven-point favorite in Saturday's game, a concept that is laughable in Athens.

"I really see us as an underdog," Richt said. "I don't know what anybody else thinks, but to me, until we beat Florida, we're an underdog in this game.

"How can you feel like you're the team that is supposed to win when you just haven't won it?"

Gibson isn't willing to say the Bulldogs have a mental block against the Gators, but it's clear to him the Gators players think they own Georgia.

"They should think that," he said. "I would think that if I beat a team three times in a row. We just have to change that."

None of Georgia's players have lost to the Gators more than three times, but they still shoulder the burden for the entire streak, offensive lineman Nick Jones said.

"I think everybody does because we catch a lot of grief about how they beat us so many years in a row," he said. "Everybody carries that weight."

Richt said he enjoys the rivalry despite never winning a game in it. While at Florida State, all he knew about the Georgia-Florida game was its nickname, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

"But after experiencing it," he said, "other than getting our butts kicked, it's been pretty neat, actually."

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