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Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Practice Notes (11/3)

Two days later, things didn't seem much better.

Georgia returned to practice Monday for the first time since its 49-10 loss to Florida a game that effectively ended the Bulldogs' hopes of a national championship and an SEC title.

Linebacker Rennie Curran said he had no doubt the team would rebound from the loss and would be ready for Kentucky this week, but Monday was a chance to reflect on what was lost.

"We're still kind of down," Curran said. "Walking around campus, it was like a funeral or something. People were just dead, just not as excited."

The somber mood, however, won't turn into a blame game, defensive tackle Corvey Irvin said.

Head coach Mark Richt addressed the team Monday and laid out two options: Either let the loss divide the team and ruin the season or move past it and focus on finishing strong.

The speech was simple but effective, Irvin said.

"We got beat," Irvin said. "They whooped us. I really can't say what all (Richt) said, but it's over. Get ready for Kentucky, and don't let this divide the team. Don't get to pointing fingers and blaming each other. Step up as leaders and get ready to be 8-2."

Irvin, a senior, has just four games left in his college career, and he said the team is focused on making sure the seniors go out with a bang, not with the memories of the loss to Florida still hanging over their heads.

"We're going to wipe our emotions off and get ready for Kentucky. Florida's over. They beat us. We've got to make a statement against Kentucky," Irvin said. "We'll see if we can get our swagger back."

-- A few other quotes from players about today"s practice and the loss to Florida:

Corvey Irvin on finding motivation going forward:
"I'm not worried about that. We've still got three more games left. It's my last season, and I want to go out with a bang. I came here as a JuCo guy, I haven't played but two years here, so I want to leave a little legacy behind, leave something special behind you know, 11-2, whatever bowl. You know that BCS is crazy, so believe me, we haven't given up hope. There's three more weeks left. Anything can happen on any Saturday, so we haven't given up."

Irvin on what happened in the second half against Florida: "We were down 14-3 and we were in the locker room like we were down 28-0. I was in the locker room trying to get the guys going, and we just didn't come out with that fire like we play real Georgia ball. I don't know what was wrong with us. I don't know if we were shocked or what. But it's over, and we'll see how we respond this weekend. Because if we go out there feeling sorry for ourselves against Kentucky, they're going to put 50 points on us. But we'll be ready. We haven't given up. We haven't lost hope around here. We're still Georgia. We still can beat any team, any day."

Rennie Curran on Richt's Monday address to the team: "Basically he told us like it is. We got beat. That's pretty much what he said. We've just got to refocus and get ready to win out. He basically said we can lose the rest of these games and let one game take the toll for the rest of our season and ruin the rest of our season or we can learn from it, watch the film and learn from our mistakes and improve on it."

Curran on how the team moves forward:
"Coming into this year, we had a lot of goals and everything. Knowing that some of those goals might be out the window with this game, it is pretty disheartening, but we can't forget how hard we worked to get to this point and for the seniors, this is their last season, so you can't let one game ruin your season."

Curran on setting new goals:
"We all work hard. Everybody wants to win and continue to improve. Even though some of our goals seem not reachable right now, we've still got a lot to play for. We've got guys who are injured right now that we're still playing for and representing and just our whole tradition and knowing there are people who would kill themselves to be a part of what we're a part of. Even though this game killed some of our dreams, we've still got a lot to play for."

Tripp Chandler on the team's mentality Monday: "Whenever you have a loss the only thing you can do is get a win to get that feeling gone from inside, but today was a day where we kind of took a step back to look at, OK, what have we got? We've got a 7-2 team, and that's a pretty good record at this point. We have a really tough game this week against a good Kentucky team, so yeah, it's still dwelling inside of us, but it's not something we can linger on and just sit on and dwell on. We've got to focus on the task at hand."

Chandler on missing out on the team's goals:
"Every season when we come in, our goal is a national championship. This year, the media saw our national championship goals and our potential, and anything less than a national championship in the media's eyes was going to be not good enough. We come in every year with national championship goals, but this league, that's a lot of obstacles to balance and fight through. But every year we come out with a 10-3, 11-2 record. It's tough, but in our eyes, we just take it on a week-by-week basis."

Mo Massaquoi on how the team handled Monday's practice: "Just realize that we took a loss, and with a loss you have to come back and work that much harder. You have to regain momentum, and you have to look at the things that beat you and correct them going into the next week."

Massaquoi on what mistakes were made: "Everything's correctable. Not taking anything away from Florida, they played a great game, but at the same time, we had some mental errors, we turned the ball over and we had way too many penalties."

Also, I wasn't there for this, so I can't quote it exactly, but Corvey basically said that he thought Georgia was still a better team than Florida, and if they played again, the results would be quite different.

-- Tight end Tripp Chandler and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe both returned to action for the first time in more than a month against Florida, and both held up well throughout the game, Richt said.

Ellerbe played a significant amount he had Georgia's only sack in the game and said his injured knee was still feeling good when he returned to practice Monday.

"It feels good," Ellerbe said. "It doesn't hurt or anything. It probably won't be 100 percent, but I'll be good enough to go (this week)."

Chandler returned with his first catch since Georgia's third game of the season, and while he said his injured shoulder was still improving, Richt said the senior looked a bit rusty.

"He did alright, but he looked a little bit like a guy who hadn't played in a month when it came to blocking," Richt said. "He wasn't his normal self, and hopefully because there's no setbacks, he'll get better."

Linebacker Darius Dewberry left the game early with a hip flexor injury and did not return, and defensive end Jeremy Lomax suffered a shoulder bruise, but Richt said both were day to day and were likely to return to action against Kentucky on Saturday.

"Overall, I don't think we have anybody at this point that was injured to the point where they're out for the game," Richt said. "There's some guys that are bumped up, bruised up, but we don't have anybody that's set to be out for next week."

-- Blair Walsh plans to spend this afternoon worrying about football and tonight worrying about the election.

Walsh is an avid political junkie and has followed this year's election closely, so he's made sure he won't miss a minute of the election night coverage.

"I've cleared my schedule pretty much at night so I can sit there and watch it," the freshman kicker said. "I remember I had fun four years ago watching it and four years before that, staying up late. I remember I kept getting woken up to see the results and stuff."

Walsh said his father is a regular donor to the Republican Party and got him and his brother interested in politics at an early age. Walsh said his brother, who is a senior at Harvard, is even more fanatical than he is.

"He's a Republican at Harvard," Walsh said, "and that doesn't sit too well."

Walsh's fervent support for John McCain hasn't infiltrated the locker room at Georgia, however. Unlike the debates that swirl around the rest of campus, he said the team hasn't talked too much politics.

"It's recently been discussed a little bit," Walsh said, "but we're so focused on football that that's a little bit too serious of a topic to talk about."

-- Walsh took full blame for the botched on-side kick Georgia attempted in the first half against Florida. The kick was meant to be lofted straight into the air, but instead it rolled cleanly to a Florida defender, who quickly recovered it.

"That's on me," Walsh said. "I was just trying to get it up. It shouldn't have hit the ground. It was supposed to go over the guy's head. It was supposed to go up. It was supposed to be a pass almost."

-- The SEC games of Saturday, November 15, will be picked on a six-day selection. CBS, ESPN and Raycom will select from the following three games:

South Carolina at Florida, Miss. State at Alabama and Georgia at Auburn. CBS will select first and will televise its game at 3:30 ET. ESPN will select second and televise its game on ESPN at 7:45 ET. Raycom will select third and televise its game at 12:30 ET.

-- And finally, here's what Corvey had to say about Urban Meyer's timeouts in the game's final minute:

"They planned it, that's what I believe. People think with this celebration in the end zone, we didn't plan it. It was a spur of the moment thing. One man left the bench, so we followed him. We didn't plan it, they planned that. But it's all gravy. They won. They did what they had to do, so my hat goes off to them."

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