Dawgs enter character-building part of season

ATHENS – Now that Georgia has reached the character-building portion of its season, Coach Mark Richt is interested to learn today about the substance of his team.

The Bulldogs (6-3, 3-3 SEC) play Kentucky (4-4, 2-3) at 1 p.m. in Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky. Last week, they were eliminated from the conference title race. Now, the only tangible thing left to play for is positioning among the conference's minor bowls.

"You're certainly looking at secondary goals, but the main thing to me is what kind of man are you?" Richt said.

The Bulldogs, who were attempting to defend their 2005 SEC title, may be more relaxed men this week after losing three of their last four games, one player said.

"I think some guys were uptight at the start," running back Danny Ware said. "Now that we just have a lot of pride to play for, I think they're loosening up and trying to buy into the system."

Richt has fallen back this week on the team slogan he implemented upon arriving in Athens in 2001 – Finish the Drill.

"What finishing the drill means is to finish as strongly as possible no matter what you're doing," he said. "We're going to finish what we start at Georgia. I believe that these guys are a bunch of good men of character and good men of character are going to do their job to the best of their ability every single time."

Kentucky is a good opponent to get well against. The Wildcats are 118th out of 119 Division I-A teams in total defense, which should be a nice tonic for a sputtering offense. Sophomore wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi admits he's seen Kentucky's defensive numbers and taken note.

"We've shown flashes, but we haven't played a complete game by any means," he said. "Hopefully, this can be a spark to bigger and better things."

A respectable finish will keep Georgia out of the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., and a strong close could help them into the Dec. 30 Chick-fil-A Bowl. All of the SEC's Jan. 1 or later bowls appear to be out of reach, but that shouldn't matter, several players said this week.

"We're going to play the rest of the season like we're playing for the SEC Championship," senior offensive tackle Daniel Inman said. "It separates the men from the boys, and I think we've got a lot of men on this team."

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