October 28, 2012

Dawgs need to keep focus

Now that the euphoria from Saturday's 17-9 victory over Florida has started to subside, head coach Mark Richt said Sunday night its time his Bulldogs turn their attention solely to Saturday afternoon's opponent - Ole Miss.

The 2012 Rebels are certainly playing with a cause.

Under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss comes into Sanford Stadium (3:30, CBS) winners of two straight (Auburn and Arkansas) after dropping their previous 16 consecutive conference games.

For Georgia, the road back to Atlanta is completely in the hands of the Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1) - ranked 7th in the AP and 6th in USA Today - providing they beat the Rebels (5-3, 2-2) in Saturday's Homecoming game and at Auburn on Nov. 10.

"It's just like Jarvis (Jones) said after this win over Florida, this game really doesn't mean anything unless we keep winning," Richt said. "Of course, he's talking about the race to the Eastern Division so we know we've got to win and continue to play like we did this past game."

Ole Miss knows how to put points on the board.

Quarterback Bo Wallace has been one of the league's top-rated passers, completing 136 of 205 passes for 1,649 yards and 10 touchdowns, while running back Jeff Scott is one of the conference's top rushers with 113 carries for 612 yards and six scores. Wallace is the team's second-leading rusher with 91 carries for 263 yards and five touchdowns.

"We've watched film already of Ole Miss. I tell you what, the first thing I watched on their defense was their first half against Alabama and they really played tremendously well," Richt said. "They might have held Alabama to their least amount of yards (305 yards) and they really did a good job in that ball game. You saw them flying around hard, playing physical. Offensively, they can move the ball in a lot of different ways. They're high-tempo; they do a lot of things that create problems for defenses. We've definitely got our work cut out. They went 16 games without beating an SEC team, now they've won two in a row."

Following Saturday's 30-27 win at Arkansas, the Rebels have their sights set on much more than that. With another victory, Ole Miss becomes bowl eligible, a pretty big feat when one considers how fall the program had fallen the previous year, resulting in the firing of former coach Houston Nutt.

"They've got every reason to believe they can win out. They've got a really good team to win the last two they played, and they very easily could have won the A&M game (a 30-27 loss)," Richt said. "What happens is you start tasting success, you get excited and you start believing and that's what is happening right now. They're on the rise. Coach Feeze has them going."

Richt also touched on a number of other subjects during his 17-minute session with the media.

• On fullback Zander Ogletree, who took over when starter Merritt Hall went out with a sprained ankle: "Zander played a heckuva game. He was very physical," Richt said. "He was very physical. He did a great job run-blocking and didn't look like he had any mental errors at all."

• On the pre-game altercation with Florida strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dishman: "I don't know what happened. I watched the TV copy last night. You could tell there was some chirping," said Richt, who asked reporters what they saw. "I'm really not worried about that right now."

• On Saturday's penalties when Georgia was flagged 14 times for 132 yards: "You don't want to have penalties that hurt you, that can cause you to punt, or cause you to let your opponent get into field goal range," Richt said. "You don't want to do that. But on the other hand you don't want to lose intensity, but you surely don't want to down anybody's ability to keep their blood hot."