ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter came back for his senior season to help deliver a championship.
Now it's a matter of how many championships he can help the Bulldogs attain.
Georgia won its first Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title since 2012 by going 7-1 in league play, claiming the East by two games over South Carolina. Next up for the No. 7 Bulldogs is Saturday's "state championship" at Georgia Tech, and then it's on to next week's SEC title game against the winner of Saturday's Alabama-Auburn showdown.
"We don't want to stop, because it seems like every game this season has been important," Carter said. "We've been trying to make sure we don't take things too far ahead, and I think that's what has gotten us to this point."
Alabama, Auburn and Georgia remained in their respective positions Tuesday night when the fourth installment of the College Football Playoff rankings were released:
1. Alabama (11-0)
2. Miami (10-0)
3. Clemson (10-1)
4. Oklahoma (10-1)
5. Wisconsin (11-0)
6. Auburn (9-2)
7. Georgia (10-1)
8. Notre Dame (9-2)
9. Ohio State (9-2)
10. Penn State (9-2)
11. Southern California (10-2)
12. TCU (9-2)
13. Washington State (9-2)
14. Mississippi State (8-3)
15. Central Florida (10-0)
16. Michigan State (8-3)
17. Washington (9-2)
18. LSU (8-3)
19. Oklahoma State (8-3)
20. Memphis (9-1)
21. Stanford (8-3(
22. Northwestern (8-3)
23. Boise State (9-2)
24. South Carolina (8-3)
25. Virginia Tech (8-3)
The 6-foot-6, 243-pounder from the Atlanta suburb of Norcross has tallied 38 tackles, ranking third on the team behind junior inside linebacker Roquan Smith and sophomore safety J.R. Reed. Carter also has 6.5 tackles for loss, including four sacks, and he had a caused fumble and a fumble recovery Sept. 9 during the 20-19 win at Notre Dame.
Carter joined fellow outside linebacker Davin Bellamy and running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel last December in deciding to return for their senior seasons rather than leave for the NFL. Georgia second-year coach Kirby Smart has seen improvements in all four of those players, including what has become a more versatile Carter.
"The biggest thing is that he's become an every-down player," Smart said. "He's gotten a little bigger and more physical, and he's been able to play some in nickel packages. We have moved him around so that he could play field boundary. He can do different things. He can stand up and match patterns. He's improved that part of his game, and that's the part that he probably needed to improve the most. I'm glad he came back to do it."
Said Carter: "I just wanted to be a complete, all-around player who can do a lot of things on the field and a lot of things well. I think I've done that, and I also wanted to become a better leader for the team."
This season's Bulldogs became the first to sweep their SEC East competition since the league went to divisional play in 1992, but that accomplishment would be sullied by a third loss to Georgia Tech in four seasons. The Yellow Jackets won 30-24 in overtime at Georgia in 2014 and prevailed 28-27 in Athens last November.
"I have unfinished business," Carter said. "I didn't want to leave having a losing record to Tech. Right now I have a losing record to Tech."
Carter said the Bulldogs have been working on Tech's triple-option offense "once a week for a long time." Georgia has won 10 games in three of Carter's four years in Athens, and a win Saturday would clinch the program's first 11-win regular season since 2012.
"There are no regrets," Carter said. "Every day I come into the locker room and get dressed for practice, I just sit back because I'm thankful to have the chance to be around these teammates and all the people in this program."
Bulldogs second-year defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was named Tuesday among the 15 semifinalists for the Broyles Award, given annually to college football's top assistant coach. Other conference assistants making the semifinal cut were Auburn second-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, Mississippi State first-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Alabama first-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Odds and ends
Georgia continued preparations for Georgia Tech on Tuesday with a two-hour workout. ... Smart said Tuesday night that both Ben Cleveland and Solomon Kindley would continue to get time at right guard. ... When asked about next week's SEC title game against the Iron Bowl winner, Smart said graduate assistants have broken down video of both teams.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.