Chick-fil-A Bowl: Dec. 13 News and Notes

ATHENS – Georgia's football team begins practice today for its least impressive bowl game since Mark Richt's first season, but that doesn't mean anyone will be just going through the motions.

In fact, the Bulldogs (8-4) will work harder this season than they did in preparation for last year's Sugar Bowl, Richt said Wednesday. Georgia, which plays No. 14 Virginia Tech on Dec. 30 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, took too many days off and didn't stress conditioning enough last year, Richt said.

On the Bulldogs' first day of post-holiday practice, "I just looked around and said, ‘You know what? I made a mistake,'" Richt said. "It hit me pretty clearly at that moment."

"We were not in shape when we came back for bowl practice," senior safety Tra Battle admitted. "We ran some wind sprints and about half of the team almost passed out."

The Bulldogs went on to lose 38-35 to West Virginia after falling behind 28-0 in the first 16 minutes of that game. Georgia's players were embarrassed by that showing and want no part of a repeat, Battle said.

"We are all prideful guys," he said, "and we really don't want to go out on national TV and put out that same performance."

The Bulldogs, who will have four two-a-day practice sessions in Athens, typically don't use all 15 bowl practices allowed by the NCAA but will this season.

"I'll be tougher," Richt said. "It won't be unbelievable grueling, but it'll be tougher. We'll condition them more while we have them on campus."

Georgia will hold its last practice in Athens on Dec. 21 and reconvene in Atlanta on the evening of Dec. 25. Its first on-site practice will be Dec. 26 in the Georgia Dome.

"I'm really going to challenge them when they are home (for the holiday) to spend some time in the weight room and running," Richt said. "They could certainly get a nice workout in on their own."

NOTES: Richt isn't certain how many of Georgia's recruiting Class of 2007 will join the team in time for spring practice, but he said Wednesday he doesn't expect any to participate in bowl practices. … Other than center Ian Smith, who has been indefinitely suspended from the team and could eventually be dismissed, Richt expects to have everyone available for the bowl game. "There are still things coming in academically, but I'm hearing nothing from our academic people saying so-and-so is on the fence," he said.

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