ATHENS — Georgia coach Mark Richt wanted to make sure everyone had a place to go on Thanksgiving.
"We try to make sure they’re with a teammate or somebody," Richt said.
He instructed the position coaches to talk with each of their players about their plans for turkey-and-dressing day. Richt was mostly concerned about those from out of state, who wouldn’t have time to go home with the No. 6 Bulldogs (9-2) preparing for Saturday’s big game against Georgia Tech (7-4).
"We want to make sure we talk with every one of the guys to find out where they’re going to eat," Richt said. "You’ve got to ask them, because some guys don’t have a place to go and they may not ask anybody."
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, a native of Texas, said his father was making the 14-hour drive from Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with his son. Safety Kelin Johnson, who’s from Florida, planned to spend the day at a friend’s house.
While the Bulldogs normally have a light day of practice on Fridays, they’ll go a little harder than usual this week to make sure the players work off all those big Thanksgiving meals.
"Everybody tends to eat more than normal that day," Richt said. "We like to have a little practice the next day to run off a little bit of turkey and also get our focus back again. When you get around your family on the holidays, you tend to lose focus on the game. We’ll use (today) to try our minds back on business."
The youngsters on Georgia’s offensive line have nearly made it through an entire season, but don’t expect to hear from them anytime soon.
Tackle Trinton Sturdivant and guard Clint Boling, both true freshmen and key contributors on offense, have been barred from talking to the media all year by their position coach, Stacy Searels, who believes the policy helps them stay focused on football.
Searels, who’s in his first year at Georgia, doesn’t want any of his true freshmen bothered with media responsibilities, and Richt isn’t inclined to change the policy even at this late date. Freshmen at other positions, such as linebacker Rennie Curran, have been talking with reporters since the start of the season.
"What do you want to know about them?" Richt asked reporters with a sly grin. "I didn’t really care if you talked to them the very first day, but Stacy wants to keep it that way. I have no problem with it."
At the very least, it keeps a few players from saying things that might wind up on another team’s bulletin board.
"Some freshmen are a little immature," Richt said. "You never know what they might say. Stacy is just learning these guys, too. He doesn’t want to have some guy spewing off this and that. It might be a Nick Saban thing. I don’t know where it came from."
Searels previously coached at LSU and worked two years with Saban, now the Alabama coach.
With Sturdivant and Boling barred from talking, it was left to Richt to describe the two young linemen.
"Trinton, I don’t know if you’d call him an idealist, but he’s kind of that happy-go-lucky kid," the coach said. "Clint, on the surface, seems a lot more serious about what’s going on. He’s quieter.
"If you were interviewing Trinton, you could probably sit there three hours and keep going. With Boling, you would be 3 minutes in going, ‘Can you say something besides yes sir and no sir?’"
Maybe next year.
Richt had a little fun when someone asked if Georgia might wear black pants for Saturday’s game.
"You can’t just stitch new britches in a week’s time," the coach quipped.
As you’ll remember, he said much the same thing before the "blackout" game against Auburn, not bothering to add that he already ordered black jerseys before the season for that very contest.
"Just ask me directly," Richt said. "Yes, we’re wearing silver britches."
Kregg Lumpkin should definitely get a chance to play another game at Georgia, maybe even two.
If the Bulldogs reach the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 1, Richt said there’s a good chance Lumpkin would be available.
The fifth-year senior running back underwent surgery on his left knee Oct. 16 after getting hurt against Vanderbilt.
He needed an arthroscopic procedure to repair a torn lateral meniscus and a sprained posterior lateral complex.
At first, the Bulldogs thought his only chance of playing again would be in a bowl. But Lumpkin’s recovery is ahead of schedule, and Georgia will play top-ranked LSU for the SEC title if Tennessee loses at Kentucky on Saturday.
"If we’re fortunate enough to play next week, Lumpkin has got a realistic shot at playing," Richt said. "He’s really running around pretty good right now. He’s really pretty close."
Lumpkin would relish the chance to finish his injury-plagued career on the field rather than standing on the sideline.
After a promising freshman year, he tore up a knee on the first day of fall practice in 2004, missing the entire season. He has another setback in this year’s opener against Oklahoma State when he broke a thumb.
Lumpkin returned after missing two games, only to go down again with the knee injury. He has played only five games in his final season.
Georgia plans a couple of side trips today after it arrives in Atlanta.
The offensive players will visit the Shepherd Spinal Center, one of the nation’s leading facilities for the treatment of spinal-cord injuries.
The defense, meanwhile, will head to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, hoping to bring a little cheer to the facility’s young patients.
Stat of the week
Georgia holds a commanding 24-12-5 advantage over Georgia Tech in games decided by 7 points or less. The last three meetings fall into that category, with the Bulldogs winning each by an average margin of 5.33 points.
They said it
"I’m not rooting for anybody, man. I’m just rooting for Georgia all the way. ... I’ll have my jockstrap on, and it’s going to be tan." — Georgia safety Kelin Johnson, brushing off the suggestion that he wear something blue under his uniform to show support for Kentucky, which must Tennessee for the Bulldogs to reach the SEC championship game.