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September 17, 2007

Schedule heats up for Dawgs

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- So long, Western Carolina. Georgia surely will miss you in the coming weeks.

With Georgia's 45-16 romp over the Catamounts on Saturday, the Bulldogs enjoyed what may be their last easy win of the season.

Georgia plays its first road game next week at No. 16 Alabama, which took a hard-fought win over Arkansas on Saturday night. That's always looked like a key game on the Bulldogs' schedule, but suddenly other games that might have appeared favorable for Georgia in August now loom as more menacing.

Look ahead. On Oct. 13, Georgia visits Vanderbilt, which beat Mississippi on Saturday.

On Nov. 4, Troy comes to Athens. Troy certainly caught the attention of Georgia fans on Friday night with its 41-23 win over Oklahoma State, a similar margin of victory as in the Bulldogs' 35-14 win over the Cowboys.

Also, Georgia's final home game is Nov. 17 against a Kentucky team which entered the Top 25 on Sunday at No. 21 following its upset of then-No. 9 Louisville on Saturday.

Georgia lost to Vanderbilt and Kentucky last season.

"We've all got a tough schedule," Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday. "We all play each other. You can see there are some really good teams out there."

Georgia (2-1) moved up one spot to No. 22 on Sunday, but the Bulldogs are 0-1 in the Southeastern Conference after a 16-12 home loss to South Carolina on Sept. 8.

A road win at Alabama could help put Georgia back on track in the conference, but Richt said there's reason to worry about how his young players will respond to their first game away from Athens.

"A lot will be learned for sure because we just haven't played away from home," Richt said. "You don't worry about that much with a veteran team. There are an awful lot of guys who will be playing away from home for the first time."

Georgia started two freshmen -- Trinton Sturdivant and Clint Boling -- at offensive tackle against Western Carolina, plus redshirt freshman Chris Davis at guard and transfer Scott Haverkamp, in his first year in the program, at the other guard. Center Fernando Velasco was left as the only experienced starter on the offensive line.

Richt said the line's run-blocking improved against Western Carolina, but he still expects Alabama to stack its defense to stop the run. Georgia has had inconsistent production from its passing game, but the emergence of receiver Demiko Goodman as a deep threat on Saturday could help.

Goodman caught two passes for 51 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown catch from Joe Cox. Starting quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for two touchdown passes in the second quarter, matching his total from the first two games.

"I don't think we've scared anybody enough with our wide receiver corps and our passing game to make anybody think stop the pass first," Richt said.

Richt said the speed and big-play potential shown by Goodman "helps us a lot."

"I think it's good for everyone to see there is someone who will run by you," Richt said.

There also were two new freshmen in the lineup on defense. Senior Kelin Johnson was held out with injured ribs, and redshirt freshman Reshad Jones started at free safety. Akeem Dent, also a redshirt freshman, started ahead of Brandon Miller at outside linebacker.

Richt said he expects Johnson and Bryan Evans, a top backup at cornerback, to return this week. Also, tailback Kregg Lumpkin (thumb) could be available for special teams play.



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