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Richt: Dogs still 'in pretty good shape' in SEC

ATHENS, Ga. - Saturday night's home game against Mississippi will be the ninth of a stretch of 10 straight weeks without a break for Georgia.

When the Bulldogs finally have an off week between the Nov. 16 game at Auburn and the Nov. 30 final regular season game against Georgia Tech, the rest will be appreciated.  

But for now, with Georgia attempting to move past last week's 20-13 loss to Florida, Coach Mark Richt says he is glad the team has a game against Mississippi this Saturday night.  

"I'm glad we didn't have an open date in this case, to let it linger,'' Richt said.

While questions about the Florida game dominated Richt's weekly press conference Tuesday, the coach said the team has "done a pretty good job of shaking off the loss.'' Added Richt: "It's not a lot of fun, of course, but it didn't take us long to realize that we're in pretty good shape if we get back on track.''

Georgia (8-1 overall, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) only fell from No. 4 to No. 6 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings and to No. 7 in The Associated Press poll Sunday. Of more significance to the team's season is the fact Georgia still is in first place in the SEC East.

If Georgia can win its next two games against Ole Miss Saturday night at 7 and at Auburn on Nov. 16, it would win the SEC East and play in the Dec. 7 SEC championship game.

Winning the SEC title for the first time since 1982 would make the loss to Florida a mere detour on this team's championship course. Just making it to the SEC championship game would be a first for the program.

But if Georgia were to lose at home to Ole Miss (5-4 overall, 2-3 SEC) Saturday night, thereby opening the door for Florida to win the East, the disappointment would overshadow the letdown after the loss to the Gators.

If Georgia does not win the East, then this season will be filed behind the 1992, 1997 and 2000 campaigns as just another year that it teased its fans before finishing behind Florida or Tennessee. The 8-0 start would have only been a set-up for a devastating fall.

The lesson delivered in a team meeting Monday night is Georgia has to move past the Florida game, and do it quickly.

"You just can't mope around very long in this league,'' Richt said Tuesday. "I think they know if they mope around they'll get beat again and then they'll really feel bad.'' Added Richt: "The best thing we can do as a team, which we've already done, is admit to the failure and then bury it and move forward, and that's what we've done.''

Cornerback Decory Bryant said players "were a little quiet at first'' on Monday.

"Then we had a team meeting and we talked about being focused and our goals,'' Bryant said.

Said quarterback David Greene: "Life goes on. We all had our opportunities in that (Florida) game we didn't capitalize on. You have to move on.''

The key for the players has been the realization they still are in first place in the East and can take care of their own plans for Atlanta.

"Our confidence is still up,'' said quarterback D.J. Shockley. "If you let a situation like that get you down, that's something that's going to happen all season. We still have the same opportunity (in the SEC East). We have the same motivation this week."
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