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Richt says win over Gators was a 'big deal'
Buford grad Lee broke right leg against Florida
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ATLANTA - A six-game winning streak hasn't cured all of Georgia's woes.

Georgia's special teams are a mess. There are depth problems on the offensive line and at running back.

Georgia still needs another team to beat South Carolina if the Bulldogs are to have a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

But with his team's 24-20 win over Florida on Saturday, the concerns could wait. Coach Mark Richt says nothing could spoil that win.

By ending a three-game losing streak to Florida, No. 18 Georgia kept pace with South Carolina atop the SEC East.

It was only Richt's third win in 11 tries against Florida, and he says "it was a big deal" for his team and for him.

Richt had his players sing "Rocky Top" after the win as encouragement for Tennessee, which was playing South Carolina. Alas, South Carolina beat the Vols and has the tiebreaker advantage over Georgia in the division race.

Even so, nothing could stop Richt from smiling on this weekend.

"Oh, I wasn't complaining about anything that happened yesterday," Richt said Sunday. "It was a great day."

It was an important day for Richt, whose poor history in the Florida series was a big reason he began the season on the hot seat. There was increased speculation about the coach's future after the Bulldogs opened with losses to Boise State and South Carolina.

Georgia has recovered with its first six-game winning streak since winning its last seven in 2007.

Win No. 6 was the biggest. Beating Florida was important for more reasons than just the SEC implications, despite Richt's attempts during the week to deflect pressure from his players by saying it was just another game.

Richt needed to show Georgia fans he could beat Florida, especially in a season the Gators are not a national power.

"Now that it's over, it was a big deal, it was a big deal for me personally," Richt said after the game.

Richt didn't have to tell his players. They already knew.

"Our seniors and coaches deserved this win," said linebacker Jarvis Jones, who had four sacks. "This was a big game for (Richt), it was huge game for the SEC race."

Jones, a transfer from Southern Cal, has been a key addition to a defense which held the Gators to minus-19 yards rushing. Georgia held Tennessee to minus-20 yards in a 20-12 win on Oct. 8.

Second-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has his 3-4 scheme delivering big results.

The Bulldogs allowed 32 yards and one first down in the second half.

"I don't know what my expectations were other than when we hired Todd we wanted to see a championship defense get built, and I think we're well on our way to doing that," Richt said. "They played exceptionally well Saturday."

There are concerns elsewhere as Georgia (6-2l, 5-1) prepares to play New Mexico State on Saturday in its first home game since Oct. 1.

Offensive guard Dallas Lee broke his right leg and will miss the remainder of the regular season.

Georgia has an experienced player, Kenarious Gates, ready to move up at left guard. With Gates one of the starting five, the top backup on the line will be freshman David Andrews, who may be comfortable only at center.

Richt said Lee may return for a bowl game.

Running back Richard Samuel, who played a key role after freshman Isaiah Crowell was limited with a bruised shin, sprained his ankle while running to the Florida 1 on the final play of the game. Richt said X-rays were negative and he expects Samuel will be day to day.

Georgia will need Samuel's inside running for its final SEC home games against Auburn on Nov. 12 and Kentucky on Nov. 19.

Richt also must find answers for poor special teams play. Florida had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 63-yard return to set up a field goal.

Georgia's Blair Walsh missed two of three field-goal attempts to continue his puzzling slide in his senior season.

Richt said he's sticking with Walsh, who has made 13 of 23 attempts this season.

"What do I do?" Richt asked. "I encourage him and keep loving him and as far as trying to make some kind of move or change or all that kind of stuff, it hasn't even crossed my mind."


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