Dawgs Start Practicing for Bowl

ATHENS - Georgia began preparations for the Independence Bowl by working out for approximately an hour and 45 minutes on Saturday at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

In the first practice for Georgia (7-5) since concluding the regular season with a win over Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs worked out in full pads to start preparing for the Texas A&M Aggies (6-6). It was also Georgia's first practice with head coach Mark Richt, assistant head coach Rodney Garner and graduate assistants Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley spearheading the defense.

"Obviously, it's different," Garner said. "I know it's different for the players also, but like I told them, the only thing they can control is what happens between the lines no matter what you feel about. I know it's been a lot of emotions that everybody has been going through the last week. I coached with coach (Willie) Martinez and coach (Jon) Fabris for nine years and coach (John) Jancek for five, so there are a lot of different emotions out there. But what we've got to do is to be challenged to get these guys prepared to go to Shreveport and play probably one of the most prolific offenses we've faced all year."

Junior linebacker Rennie Curran added that Richt took a more "hands-on" approach with the defense in Saturday's practice, and that before the workout started Garner addressed the team urging them to "have fun" and be "business-like and professional." Curran also discussed the two week break from being on the football field.

"I definitely think it was good to where we had the long break to get our minds right mentally refocusing and to kind of let that time pass where we were still down about coaches being gone," Curran said. "We were able to just get away from football a little bit, just relax, get our bodies back right and get back into the weight room. I think all of that helps to where when we get back on the field we're more relaxed and we're not too worried about the coaching changes because that time of mourning has already passed. It wasn't easy to get back on the field, but it was little bit better because we hadn't been out there for a while, so that excitement of just playing the game again took over. We had a lot of fun out there today."

Saturday's practice comes in the middle of a busy week for the Bulldogs. Final exams got underway on Thursday, and tonight, the team will hold the 12th-Annual Senior Awards Banquet/Silent Auction/Gala at the Athens Classic Center. Exams then resume on Monday and continue through Wednesday, when the Georgia will hold bowl media day and resume practicing here each day until Dec. 22nd.

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