JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia might be making a quarterback change before its biggest game of the season.
At the very least, the Bulldogs seem ready to play more than one against longtime rival No. 11 Florida on Saturday in Jacksonville.
With first place in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division at stake, Georgia coach Mark Richt said Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta each got repetitions with the first-team offense in practice this week.
“All I can tell you is we’ve been repping just like last week,” Richt said Wednesday, referring to the team’s bye week.
“We’ve repped more than one guy with the 1s. We’re going to continue to do that.”
Lambert has been inconsistent all season. The Virginia transfer set a NCAA record by completing 24 of 25 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns against South Carolina. But he also failed to throw a touchdown pass against Vanderbilt, Alabama and Missouri.
Georgia tight end Jeb Blazevich hinted that changes could be afoot.
“I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say,” Blazevich said. “They’re definitely kind of focusing on putting the pressure on guys and everything like that. I’ll just kind of keep that open ended. I don’t want to get in trouble.”
The loser of the game will be in trouble in the division.
Both teams control their destiny in the East, and the winner will move considerably closer to locking up a spot in the league championship game.
If Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) wins its second straight in the rivalry, the Gators would just need to beat Vanderbilt or South Carolina to get to Atlanta for the first time since 2009. If Georgia (5-2, 3-2) pulls the upset, the Bulldogs could clinch the East by knocking off Kentucky and Auburn the following two weeks.
“I don’t think there’s a need to give all these what-ifs and all that kind of stuff only because if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, then you’re not going to be talking about it anyway,” Gators coach Jim McElwain said. “This is why you get into it, to play in games like this. If you’re not prepared and you’re scared, then this probably isn’t the place for you because this is the expectation of the University of Florida.”
Here are some other things to know about the neutral-site game, which has been played annually in Jacksonville since 1933:
HARRIS AGAIN: Florida quarterback Treon Harris will make his second consecutive start in place of Will Grier, who is suspended for violating NCAA rules regarding performance-enhancing drugs. Harris completed 17 of 32 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns in a loss at LSU two weeks ago. “Everyone is doubting us again, talking about losing to LSU, we don’t have a quarterback,” Florida receiver Brandon Powell said. “We all know in that locker room what we’ve got.”
KICKING SITUATION: Florida turned to a dental student to fill the team’s open kicker spot. The Gators announced Friday that Neil MacInnes won the competition to serve as Austin Hardin’s backup against Georgia. With Hardin dealing with a leg injury and Jorge Powell out for the season, McElwain held an open tryout last week. More than 200 students applied and 77 ended up trying out. McElwain invited three back to work with the team this week, and MacInnes got the nod.
KEY INJURIES: Georgia defensive end Jordan Jenkins, who leads the team with three sacks, might miss a second straight game because of a groin injury. “I wouldn’t say it’s a slam dunk right now, but he is going to be practicing and progressing,” Richt said. Florida, meanwhile, might be without receiver Antonio Callaway, who injured a foot in practice. Callaway has provided several of the team’s biggest plays in the passing game.
REVENGE GAME: Florida ran for 418 yards and five touchdowns against Georgia in a 38-20 victory last season, and much of the talk this week has been about the Bulldogs seeking some revenge. “I’m sure they’re going to have a really big chip on their shoulder,” Gators running back Kelvin Taylor said. “They’re going to be very hyped. … We can’t wait.”
HOME & HOME: Both teams will wear home jerseys for the second consecutive season in Jacksonville. Georgia, technically the visitors this year, will be in red tops. Florida, considered the home team, will don blue jerseys.