Football notes: Headed to the Dome

ATLANTA — Georgia coach Mark Richt stressed Friday that his team should be focused tonight on the challenge of winning the SEC championship tonight, but he admits there is no way to avoid distractions this afternoon.

The team will still be at its Atlanta airport hotel this afternoon when Miami plays Virginia Tech in a game scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

If Virginia Tech upsets Miami, then Georgia could have a chance to move into a national championship game — but only if it first beats Arkansas tonight in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

"I think it would be kind of foolish to think players won't know (the Miami-Virginia Tech score) or we're trying to hide it,'' Richt said Friday. "The bottom line is the guys are going to watch the game, coaches will be interested in the game and I will be interested in the game.''  

Richt said players would be disappointed if Miami wins and secures its spot against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl national championship game.  

"Hopefully, it won't be anything that will keep us from playing our best football game because I think our players understand the magnitude of the game for our program,'' he said. Added Richt: "The fans are hungry (for a SEC championship), the players are hungry. We've got seniors who came to Georgia to win a SEC championship. ... It's been a long time for us.''  

First impressions: After walking onto the Georgia Dome field for the first time Friday, Richt's first impression was positive. "It's a beautiful building,'' Richt said. "It's the first time I've been here. It's neat.''

No numbers: Arkansas players wore shorts and game jerseys for their brief drills at the Georgia Dome.  Georgia followed for its walk-through session and came out in gray T-shirts — with no uniform numbers — and sweatpants.  

Back in black: For the first time since the 1997 season, Georgia will wear black shoes tonight. Equipment manager Dave Allen had to purchase new turf shoes for the game since this is Georgia's first game of the season on artificial turf, and the team chose to wear black.  Through the season, players wore white cleats with red trim.  

No script for quarterbacks: Richt plans to play D.J. Shockley behind starting quarterback David Greene, but he said he does not have a set plan for when Shockley will come into the game.  Early in the season, Richt told both quarterbacks on Friday nights how he planned to divide the playing time, but he says he often had to change that plan based on game situations.  In last week's win over Georgia Tech, Shockley's first appearance came on the first possession of the second quarter.  

Sharing the stage: With their surge from 1-3 to 8-3-1 and big game Sunday in Tampa Bay for first place in the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons have competed with Georgia's season and the SEC championship game for attention from fans and media, especially in Atlanta.  Asked about both teams enjoying success, Richt said "I think there's enough fans to go around.''  Richt has caught some of the Falcons fever and is especially impressed with quarterback Michael Vick.  "With Vick, we may be witnessing something that may become, I don't know if it will be a dynasty, but a team that really could be one of the better pro teams for years to come,'' Richt said. "It's hard to be a dynasty in that league.''  

Hand-written: At the SEC coaches luncheon at the Hyatt Regency hotel Friday, Richt was asked about something he had written on the palm of his left hand.  "That's my palm pilot,'' Richt said, adding, "I've never lost my hand. The most current notes are bright. The ones that are about three days old are fading away.'' Richt and the crowd both had a good laugh.

One last question: Fans attending the luncheon had the opportunity to ask questions to Richt and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, and the last question to Richt came from a female fan.  The question to Richt: "Do you have a single twin brother?''  Said a smiling Richt: "Not that my parents know of.''  

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