Dawgs Eye Gators

ATHENS - Georgia returns to action this Saturday against fifth-ranked Florida, and Bulldog head coach Mark Richt said they are focusing on the race for the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title.

The Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1 SEC) and Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC) are tied for first in the Eastern Division and both have two more league contests following this Saturday's conference clash in Jacksonville. This year's Georgia-Florida game will mark only the fifth time in the series history that both teams are ranked in the top 10. Georgia won the first two such meetings in 1976 and 1983 while the Gators have won the last two coming in 1984 and 1999. Overall, the Bulldogs lead the series 47-37-2 including 40-34-1 in Jacksonville. Last year, Georgia posted a 42-30 win over the Gators.

During his weekly Sunday media conference call, Richt said the Bulldogs are looking forward to the latest key conference game.

"The main thing we've done after we got our rear ends kicked by Alabama is that there's not a lot to think about except the next game," said Richt. "We can only concentrate on one thing and control one thing per week, per day to prepare. We've stuck to that pretty good and hope to continue with that. These guys will be ready to play, I promise you."

Georgia is coming off a 52-38 road win over 11th-ranked LSU, and Richt said he is not concerned about the number of points or yards the Tigers accumulated against the Bulldog defense.

"Our defense created 17 points for us too," said Richt. "They played an outstanding football team at their place. We did what we needed to do win the game. I am proud of what everybody did."

Richt said he is more optimistic that senior starting linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and senior starting tight end Tripp Chandler would be available to play against the Gators. They have missed the last three games due to injuries.

The Gators leads the SEC in scoring at 42.0 points a game with the Bulldogs next at 34.2. Also, Florida features one of the nation's top special teams units, scoring off blocked punts and punt/kickoff returns.

"Any team that will pressure kicks and return kicks, especially punts, it makes it difficult," said Richt. "If you spend all your energy in protecting, and they still have the ability to return, you won't have the coverage. It's hard to protect well and cover. If you can block punts and return them, you have a tremendous advantage. I saw some highlights from the Kentucky game, Florida is probably the fastest team in the United States of America, not just on offense but in the kicking game."


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