Coming off a bye week heading into the 2:30 p.m. Saturday showdown at Sanford Stadium in Athens, the Bulldogs will be rested and ready for the Vols. And as recent history shows, that is very good news for Georgia.
Take last year, for instance. Heading into this same matchup it was Tennessee who benefited from a bye week, using the extra time to dismantle the Bulldogs, 35-14 in Knoxville. By the same token, Georgia was able to take advantage of its own bye week later in the season when it knocked off Florida, 42-30, after having two weeks to prepare.
“I like the trend,” said Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.
Of course against the Vols last season, Richt was no fan of the bye week. Forced to play Tennessee in the sixth game of the season, the Bulldogs were a worn out bunch when they rolled into Knoxville. And it showed.
“Whew, man I hadn’t looked at that thing in a while,” Richt said. “Really, truly I think Tennessee just played pretty stinking good. I don’t have any other excuse other than they took it to us physically and we were not able to match very good up front. And as young as we are this year, we did have three freshman up front playing on the line last year. So I think they just whipped us up front on both sides of the ball.”
This time around, though, Richt is hopeful the bye week will work in his team’s favor.
“You get more rest, hopefully you’re not banging you’re guys up and you’re not breaking their bodies down during that open date,” Richt said. “You’re trying to build it up without losing fundamentals. So we do half the field work during an open week that we do during a normal week. Then we get three days to lift during an open week. And the coaches get more time to plan for the game. So all of those things help you. And then on the other hand, that other team has to spend that time you’re preparing for them preparing for somebody else. And that adds up after a while.
“So I think an open date is crucial if you take advantage of it.”
Not Settling For Six
Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson has his team on the verge of becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 1982. But when asked Wednesday if his team is focused on picking up win number six — the magic number to make a bowl — Johnson scoffed a bit at the question.
“Of course we’ve tried to get over (the bowl eligible hump),” Johnson said. “ We want to go to a bowl just like everyone else does. But we don’t point to six wins. We point to each game and this is our sixth game, that’s what we’re more concerned about. But our guys are smart. You can’t hide it from them and they know the deal. But I don’t think they are obsessed with trying to get to six wins. I think they’re just trying to get better and hopefully that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Settling On One
Perhaps no coach is the master of the two quarterback system better than South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier. But after Gamecocks sophomore Chris Smelley threw for 327 yards last week and was named Southeastern Conference offensive player of the week, Spurrier is hopeful his two-quarterback days are behind him.
At least for awhile.
“I hope so,” Spurrier said. “I hope (Chris) has a real solid game this week and we can move on.
“I don’t particularly like changing quarterbacks. Some people think I do, but my philosophy of coaching is always give the next guy a chance if the guy in there is not getting the job done. You know we’re doing that with some guards in there this week and that’s the way to me you have to coach if you’ve got a guy that’s pretty close in ability and the first guy is not getting it done. You give the other guy a chance, but you always bring the other guy back. Anytime a guy has been benched we say, hey you’ll probably get your chance. How soon we don’t know, but try to be ready when the opportunity comes.”
SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE HONOR ROLL — WEEK 6
Quarterback, South Carolina
6-2 • 216 • Sophomore
Tuscaloosa, Ala. (American Christian HS)
Smelley completed 22 of 32 passes for a career-high 327 yards and three touchdowns in South Carolina’s 31-24 win at Ole Miss. Smelley’s three TDs tied a career best and were from 20, 6 and 4 yards out. He also connected on a career-best 63-yard completion to Jared Cook in the first quarter that set up an early Gamecock touchdown. For the season, Smelley has completed 99 of 157 passes for 1,171 yards and his completion percentage rate of 63.06 ranks second in the SEC.
6-0 • 222 • Junior
Southlake, Texas (Carroll Senior HS)
Benoist racked up a team-high 13 tackles last week while also accounting for two tackles for losses, a quarterback sack and a pass deflection in Vanderbilt’s 14-13 win against Auburn. After giving up 126 yards in the first quarter, the Commodores’ defense allowed just 82 yards for the remainder of the game with Benoist leading the way. Through five games this season, Benoist leads Vanderbilt with 22 solo tackles, 50 total tackles and 5.5 tackles for losses.
5-11 • 185 • Junior
Griffin, Ga. (Spalding HS)
Upson averaged 38.1 yards on eight punts, with four of his punts downed inside the 20-yard line in Vanderbilt’s 14-13 win against Auburn. His 55-yard punt with two minutes left in the game pinned the Tigers inside their own 5-yard line and Auburn managed just two returns for eight yards on Upson’s eight punts. Vanderbilt opponents are averaging just 3.0 yards per return on punts this season and Upson leads the SEC with 12 punts inside the 20-yard line.
6-5 • 312 • Sophomore
Lakeland, Fla. (HS)
Pouncey graded out a team-best 94 percent and led a Gators offensive line that produced 278 rushing yards in a 38-7 win at Arkansas last week. The rushing yardage total was the most in an SEC game under coach Urban Meyer, with Florida averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Overall, the Gators had 514 yards of total offense and scored on six of their 10 offensive possessions.
Defensive End, Alabama
6-5 • 278 • Senior
Prattville, Ala. (HS)
Greenwood picked up three tackles, one sack, one pass deflection and one quarterback pressure in Alabama’s 17-14 win against Kentucky. His sack came on a third down play in the first quarter and forced a Wildcats punt. Alabama allowed just 35 rushing yards on 20 attempts, with no carries over eight yards. The Crimson Tide also lead the SEC and rank second in the nation in rush defense, allowing just 50.8 yards per game.
Running Back, Florida
5-8 • 176
Okahumpka, Fla (South Lake HS)
Demps gained a career-high 103 yards on seven carries and scored on touchdowns runs of 48 and 36 yards in Florida’s 38-7 win at Arkansas. He joined teammate Chris Rainey as the first two Gator running backs to rush for more than 100 yards in the same game since 1997. They are also the first freshman duo to accomplish the feat in school history. Demps owns three of the four longest carries for Florida this season and is second on the team in rushing yards (178) and average per rush (13.7).
Streak In Jeopardy?
Arkansas was within one touchdown of seeing a rather long scoring streak come to an end last week. The Razorbacks haven’t been shut out in a game in 13 years, a stretch that ranks fourth in the Southeastern Conference. Florida has the longest streak going in the SEC and the third longest in the country, dating back almost 20 seasons.
CURRENT CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITHOUT BEING SHUTOUT
No. Team Number Last Game Shutout
1. Michigan 282 Oct. 20, 1984 (lost to Iowa, 26-0)
2. Washington State 279 Sept. 15, 1984 (lost to Ohio State, 44-0)
3. FLORIDA 247 Oct. 29, 1988 (lost to Auburn, 16-0)
4. Colorado 238 Nov. 12, 1988 (lost to Nebraska, 7-0)
1. Florida 247 Oct. 29, 1988 (lost to Auburn, 16-0)
2. Tennessee 176 Sept. 17, 1994 (lost to Florida, 31-0)
3. Georgia 160 Sept. 30, 1995 (lost to Alabama, 31-0)
4. Arkansas 156 Nov. 18, 1995 (lost to LSU, 28-0)
5. Ole Miss 111 Nov. 7, 1998 (lost to Arkansas, 34-0)
6. Alabama 94 Nov. 18, 2000 (lost to Auburn, 9-0)
7. LSU 73 Nov. 16, 2002 (lost to Alabama, 31-0)
8. Auburn 66 Aug. 30, 2003 (lost to Southern Cal, 23-0)
9. Vanderbilt 51 Nov. 22, 2003 (lost to Tennessee, 48-0)
10. South Carolina 30 Sept. 9, 2006 (lost to Georgia, 18-0)
11. Kentucky 22 Oct. 14, 2006 (lost to LSU, 49-0)
12. Mississippi State 17 Aug. 30, 2007 (lost to LSU, 45-0)
0 Alabama opponents who have rushed for 100 or more yards in a game this season
10 Scoring drives by Florida which have taken under two minutes, tops in the SEC
12 Southeastern Conference teams who have received votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll at least once this season
41-0 Margin by which Arkansas has been outscored by its opponents in the first quarter of games this season
1943 The last time Vanderbilt started a season 5-0