Dawgs getting past "snub"

ATHENS – Sure, Georgia is going to suffer a letdown after not being selected to play for the national title.

"You can't avoid it," tight end Tripp Chandler.

That doesn't mean it will have any effect on the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl, when the No. 4 Bulldogs play No. 10 Hawaii at 8:30 p.m. in the New Orleans Superdome.

"My gosh, it's going to be a whole month before we're going to play, and that's plenty of time to get jacked up for a ball game," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said.

The Bulldogs (10-2) began the process of moving on Thursday with an afternoon practice. Georgia's players will take off most of this week to focus on finals before beginning practice again on Friday.

"We can't worry about (being snubbed)," center Fernando Velasco said. "That's over. We're not in the national championship. We're playing in the Sugar Bowl versus Hawaii, which is a great ball club. That's where all our attention has to go right now."

This will be Georgia's third Sugar Bowl appearance under Richt. The last time the Bulldogs made an appearance was 2005, when the game was played Atlanta due to the Hurricane Katrina damage suffered by New Orleans. Georgia has played its last two bowl games in Atlanta. Being able to make what feels more like a bowl trip will help the team get its focus back, safety Kelin Johnson said.

"I'm glad we're not in Atlanta, I'm so tired of going to Atlanta," Johnson said. "The Sugar Bowl is a great place, and we're going to count our blessings. The seniors are going to put this team on our back and be honored to wear the G once again."

If Georgia doesn't get inspired, it runs the risk of a Sugar Bowl performance like its last, when West Virginia announced itself as a national contender by taking a 28-0 lead on the Bulldogs and eventually winning 38-35.

"Hawaii will absolutely get excited about enhancing their reputation and their feelings that maybe they should have been in the national championship game by beating us," Richt said.

That won't be a factor, said Hawaii head coach June Jones, who used to coach the Atlanta Falcons.

"We don't feel like we have anything to prove," Jones said. "We have fun playing together. These kids love each other. Since I've been here, we've beaten Alabama. We've beaten Oregon. We've beaten big teams. It's not like we haven't done it before."

Richt is more worried about his fan base's reaction to the bowl selection than his team's. He quickly announced he will have his team wear the black jerseys they wore during the Auburn game in an attempt to fire up both the players and the fans.

"We're going to ask the Bulldogs Nation to get excited about going to New Orleans and have a great time and try to black out the dome," Richt said.

Georgia sold out of its BCS ticket allotment of 17,5000 and then an additional 5,000 tickets before bowl placements were announced, but the Bulldogs will need more people than that there to make the kind of impact Richt wants. Jones expects his fan base to buy at least its initial allotment of 17,500 tickets, he said.

"I think if we can make a great showing there at the dome, I think it'll serve notice to future bowl games because it is very important for bowls to know that fans will support the team and come and spend the time and the money," Richt said. "I'm really wanting to encourage our Bulldog Nation to show up and get ready to don their black again. Let's see if we can relieve a little bit of that excitement."

Dawg Post Top Stories