Dawgs hunker down for Election '04

ATHENS — Georgia's locker room is politically split in much the same manner as the country — a few Republicans, a few Democrats and a few who just don't care.

If there is a lean one way or another, it's toward the Grand Old Party, according to the Bulldogs questioned Tuesday. Center Russ Tanner, who revealed he cast an absentee ballot for George Bush two weeks ago, guessed there probably were more Republicans than Democrats on the team.

Fullback Jeremy Thomas, another conservative, backed up Tanner's thoughts, as did cornerback DeMario Minter, a liberal voice in the locker room.

"I'm not going to (vote), but if I did, I'd vote for (John) Kerry," Minter said. "I think most of the team is Republican, I don't know why."

Minter said he and wide receivers Sean Bailey, John LaValley and Evan Wells recently got into a heated debate about the war in Iraq, abortion and same-sex marriage.

"We were screaming at the top of our lungs," he said.

The debates extend out of the locker room at times.

"We sit in the ice tub in our girdles talking politics," Thomas said. "We have good little discussions."

Defensive tackle Kedric Golston, who didn't vote this year, said he doesn't get pulled into the fray.

"That's on their side of the locker room," he said. "I guess us big guys are more worried about what we're going to eat for dinner that night."

Coach Mark Richt wore an "I'm a Georgia voter" sticker to his weekly news conference on Tuesday but declined to discuss politics afterward. Tanner and Thomas both guessed the coaching staff leans to the right, but Golston had another theory.

"Communist, he said.

COMPUTER COMPLAINTS Although they insist they're taking things one game at a time, the Bulldogs have obviously peaked at the latest BCS rankings. Georgia remained at No. 9 this week. Two teams ahead of it lost, but it was jumped by both Texas and Tennessee.

The reason the Bulldogs stayed pat is their relatively low ranking in the computer polls. Georgia is fifth in the coaches poll and eighth in the Associated Press poll but only 12th in an average of the computer polls.

"I'm surprised we're as low as we are in the computer polls," Richt said. "I need somebody to explain that to me. I don't understand it, I really don't understand it. The computer polls are interesting. I don't know what they're looking for with those."

Tanner has a theory.

"They're probably making those computers out in Silicon Valley," he said, making an allusion to the fact that California is ranked ahead of the Bulldogs in the computers and the BCS.

"For us to be jumped after we got a win against a team like Florida is something I don't understand," he said. "It's hard when you look at a lot of the teams that are ahead of us. You just wonder what teams in the WAC or Pac-10 would do is a league like ours."

(Teams from the Pac-10 might do OK, since the Pac-10 is 2-6 against the SEC since 1999.)

Golston is among the faction of people not surprised that a victory over a 4-4 Florida team didn't give the Bulldogs a big bounce in the polls.

"It's a big game for us, but it's just another game to (the computers)," he said. "You really don't expect to go up in the computer."

BACK TO THE GRINDSTONE Giving up 458 yards of offense to Florida was enough to convince Georgia's coaches to go back to full contact Tuesday. The Bulldogs had cut the live-contact, inside drill out of their Tuesday practice schedule the last two weeks.

"We're going to run a little inside drill today," Richt said. "When you don't do it and you don't tackle well, you can bet your defensive coordinator is going to be pounding the table for it. We need to do it."

Richt had stopped the contact to keep his team fresh late in the season.

"It's that tradeoff of being fresh or being prepared," Richt said. "If you keep missing those tackles, it doesn't matter how fresh you are."

Secondary coach Willie Martinez was definitely a proponent for live tackling.

"Being on the defensive side, we're always going to want contact," he said. "That's a big part of our preparation."

INJURY UPDATE Richt wouldn't completely rule out safety Thomas Davis playing against Kentucky, but he came very close. Davis sprained his right knee and ankle against Florida.

"We don't have any doubt (Davis will play against) Auburn," Richt said.

Wide receiver A.J. Bryant (foot) also is doubtful this week but is expected to play against Auburn. Defensive tackle Ray Gant (shoulder), who has been out since the Tennessee game, also could be ready to play against the Tigers.

"Gant's real close," Richt said. "You might could put him out there against Kentucky, but I don't think we're going to. Ray really wants to go."

Gant will practice with the scout team this week.

MORE AWARDS Quarterback David Greene, safety Thomas Davis , defensive end David Pollack and Richt have been named semifinalists for Maxwell Football Club awards. Greene is one of 12 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the club's player of the year. Davis and Pollack are two of the 12 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the defensive player of the year. Richt is one of nine candidates left for the George Munger Award, which goes to the coach of the year.


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