Georgia will have its lone open date of its regular season this Saturday, having improved to 7-0 this past weekend by racking up 696 total yards in a 53-28 triumph over Missouri inside Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs will not play again until Oct. 28, when they will look to snap a three-game series losing streak to SEC East nemesis Florida at Jacksonville's EverBank Field.
"I'm excited to get back to practice, because I want to get better," second-year Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said in his news conference Saturday night. "I told everybody, 'It's not an off week. It's not a bye week. It's a work week.' We've got to clean some things up and get better if we're going to go where we want to go.
"We've certainly hit it at a good time, because one thing I've learned coaching in the SEC as long as I have is that if you go seven straight weeks and throw in an App State and a Notre Dame to the physicality we practice and play with, teams need the off week."
The Bulldogs moved up to No. 3 behind Alabama and Penn State in the two major polls Sunday, a direct result of their best league start ever. Georgia had never won its first four Southeastern Conference games by 25 or more points until this season, and it's actually a feat Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has not accomplished.facebook
Georgia is perfect through seven games for the first time since 2005, which was also the year of its most recent conference crown.
The Bulldogs enter their open date in command of the East at 4-0, with Kentucky (2-1), Florida (3-2) and South Carolina (3-2) trailing. Georgia will resume with four straight conference games — Florida, South Carolina, No. 21 Auburn and Kentucky.
Smart was asked Saturday night whether 7-0 was cause for enjoyment or more worry given the higher stakes.
"I'd be worried if we were 0-7," Smart said. "My concern is, 'Can we get better?' The past doesn't determine our future, so our past success or past wins will not determine what happens in the future.
"It's important that they understand that they're going to get everybody's best shot."
Georgia's position not only improved from a divisional standpoint with Florida losing for the second time in as many weeks but a national standpoint as well. With Clemson, Washington and Washington State sustaining their first setbacks against unranked foes this past weekend after Oklahoma suffered the same fate the week before, the Bulldogs have enhanced chances of getting into the four-team playoff even with a loss to Alabama in the SEC title game should both teams get to Atlanta with 12-0 records.
That remains a long way off, of course, and Georgia doesn't even want to focus on Florida this week.
"This first week, we're going to work on us getting better," sophomore receiver Mecole Hardman said. "The seven days after that, we're going to work on Florida. Right now, we're not worried about Florida and what they've got going. We're just worried about us and getting better."
Said junior linebacker Roquan Smith: "There are no days off. We're going to work on ourselves, and then we'll start focusing on Florida. We're going to be excited about that opportunity."
Odds and ends
Georgia is third nationally in total defense (having allowed an average of 252.6 yards per game), fourth in scoring (12.6 points per game), fifth in offensive third-down conversions (51.0 percent) and fifth in net punting (43.35 yards per punt) ... Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm leads the SEC in efficiency with a rating of 170.4. ... Georgia has won the SEC the past four times it started 7-0 (1980, 1982, 2002, 2005). ... The 696 total yards ranked second in school history behind the 712 the Bulldogs amassed versus Florida Atlantic in 2012. ... Junior receiver Terry Godwin suffered a rib injury against Mizzou, but Smart said, "I think he'll be fine." ... Redshirt sophomore kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is 10-of-11 this season on field-goal attempts. ... Senior safety Dominick Sanders now has a school-record 329 yards in interception returns.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.