Jefferson football coach T. McFerrin
ATHENS — Quarterback Joe Cox and linebacker Rennie Curran reminded their Georgia teammates to avoid complacency with no game this weekend.
Reinforcing a message delivered in a players’ only meeting that followed a 45-19 loss at Tennessee on Oct. 10, Cox and Curran want every Bulldog to hold himself accountable in avoiding another letdown.
Georgia (4-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) plays its next game Oct. 31 against No. 2 Florida.
"We challenged everybody," Cox said, "to put in a lot of working watching them on film and in practicing well this whole week so it’s not just a week off."
Curran, who leads the Bulldogs in tackles for the second straight year, knows last week’s 34-10 victory at Vanderbilt hardly gauges Georgia’s mental and emotional makeup.
Vanderbilt is the only team without an SEC victory this season. Florida, which visits Mississippi State on Saturday night, is seeking its second straight national championship and third in four years.
"We need to get an early start so by the time the game week comes, it’s second nature to us," Curran said. "That way, we won’t have to go hard physically next week. It’ll be just going over what we already know."
Georgia will practice Thursday for the final time this week, but players can voluntarily spend more time watching film of the Gators, who are coming off a sloppy a 23-20 win over Arkansas.
As Curran sees it, the Bulldogs need as much encouragement as they can muster after losing 49-10 last year in Jacksonville, Fla. Georgia has dropped three of four and 16 of 19 in the annual series, so the sight of Florida’s four turnovers, three dropped passes and six sacks allowed was welcomed.
"It just shows you how any team can be affected by it," Curran said. "They made mistakes that allowed another team to stay in it a game that was filled with a lot of drama and a lot of suspense. If they’d held the turnover ratio down and not gave up the big plays, it might have been different."
Even so, the Gators still lead the SEC in offensive and defensive scoring. They rank first in total offense, second in total defense.
Georgia’s offense is eighth in scoring, 10th in average yards gained. The Bulldogs’ defense is still the SEC’s worst in scoring and 10th in average yards allowed.
Even though Georgia had 173 yards rushing at Vanderbilt, the offense remains last in the conference and 103rd nationally at 108 yards per game. Another gauge on poor play at running back is that coach Mark Richt might ask Richard Samuel, who leads the Bulldogs with a rushing average of 47.9 yards, might move to linebacker in the offseason.
Samuel started the first six games, but didn’t take his first snap against Vanderbilt until the third quarter. He finished with 18 yards on six carries.
Freshman Washaun Ealey, who earned his first career start, ran 13 times for 71 yards. Caleb King had one of Georgia’s two rushing touchdowns.
"I think every back we had in ran hard, and I think one of the best things is that we stuck with it," Cox said. "It wasn’t exactly our best rushing performance, and we didn’t exactly run up and down the field on ‘em, but we stayed with running the ball and we got some manageable third downs, converted them and kept drives going."