The Georgia Bulldogs are thrilled and relieved to have an open date after playing the past seven Saturdays, but they know what's coming with this extra time off.
Next up for Georgia is an Oct. 29 matchup in Jacksonville against Florida, a program that has defeated the Bulldogs 18 times in the past 21 meetings. No team has dominated Georgia so thoroughly for so long, and the Bulldogs could face their share of questions about the rivalry with so much time until kickoff.
"I really don't care," sophomore outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said after Saturday night's 33-28 escape at Vanderbilt. "If we take care of business on our end, then the Florida game is what it is. We can't control what the media says or what everybody else thinks.
"Florida's a good team, and so are we, so we've just got to show up and play well."
The Gators mutilated the Bulldogs by a combined 90-27 during the 2008-09 meetings, and last year's matchup was equally painful for Georgia. In the first overtime matchup in series history, Florida won 34-31.
"That's just how it goes in college football, and there are two weeks in which everybody is going to start analyzing this, that and the other," coach Mark Richt said Sunday, "but just having the open date right now is very healthy for us. Our coaches need it, and I need it personally."
Richt added that Georgia will use this open week to begin game-planning for the Gators, even though it is not known whether they will have starting quarterback John Brantley back from his lower leg injury. The Bulldogs have been without sophomore inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (broken foot) since the Boise State opener but could turn him loose in Wednesday's full-contact workout.
Instillation of the game plan should be complete by next Monday, Richt said.
With Tennessee losing to LSU this past weekend and with Florida losing at Auburn, the SEC East race has just two horses right now. South Carolina and Georgia are each 4-1 in league play, while everybody else in the East has three conference losses.
Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their 45-42 win in Athens on Sept. 10, but they must play the rest of the year without sophomore tailback Marcus Lattimore, who suffered ligament and cartilage damage during Saturday's 14-12 win at Mississippi State.
"We absolutely have got to keep winning, I know that, and somebody has still got to beat South Carolina," Richt said. "It's hard to lose a player such as a quarterback or a Lattimore, one of the finest players in America. It has got to affect your team to a certain degree, but it doesn't mean that you can't still win."
Said Spurrier: "It doesn't look like Georgia is going to lose again."
This is just the third time in the past 20 seasons in which the Bulldogs have been off the week before Florida. Georgia couldn't capitalize two years ago in a 41-17 loss but did in 2007, upsetting the Gators 42-30.
"It's going to allow us to evaluate everything we've done up to this point," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "It will allow us to get some guys healthy. It will allow us to get ready for what's ahead, because there are obviously some big things ahead, so I think it's coming at a really good time."
Odds and ends
Georgia senior defensive end DeAngelo Tyson suffered a mild MCL sprain at Vandy but returned to finish the game. ... The Bulldogs jumped back into the Associated Press poll at a tie for 24th. ... Richt said he has addressed Saturday night's midfield confrontation with his players and coaches but didn't elaborate. ... The Gators have scored 27 combined points the past three games, their fewest since amassing 12 in a three-game stretch against Vanderbilt, Auburn and Georgia in 1988.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...