Georgia players say a prayer for Lattimore

semerson@macon.comOctober 28, 2012 

ATHENS -- Marcus Lattimore has been a thorn in Georgia’s side the past three years, but the rivalry was put into context Saturday.

Georgia held a postgame prayer Saturday night for Lattimore, the star tailback for South Carolina, who suffered a serious knee injury during an afternoon game against Tennessee.

“We prayed for him as a team,” head coach Mark Richt said Sunday. “As we were just kind of closing out the day, we thought about him and just what a warrior he is. What a great football player and what a great competitor, and a guy we all have a lot of respect for as a person, as well. We all know how an injury like that is just very difficult to deal with, so we wanted to pray for him and his family, so we did that.”

Lattimore has rushed for a combined 457 yards against the Bulldogs, and his national coming-out game was against them as a freshman in 2010.

As soon as Lattimore was injured onSaturday, there was an outpouring of support over social media, with Georgia players joining in. Senior defensive end Abry Jones, himself out with a sprained ankle, tweeted, “Prayers sent out to Marcus Lattimore” within minutes of the injury. Later several other players, including All-America linebacker Jarvis Jones, tweeted their support and prayers for Lattimore.

Playing with emotion

Richt downplayed the pregame scrum that ensued when Florida players were taking the field Saturday as a few Georgia players ran through them.

“There was some chirping and all that kind of thing. But I don’t think anybody got physical or anything like that,” Richt said.

There is a picture of the scrum in which Florida’s strength coach is apparently shoving a Georgia player, whose identity can’t be made out.

“I don’t know, I’d have to look at it,” Richt said. “I’m not really worried about that right now.”

Richt did grant that the game had a higher intensity level than most.

“That was one of the most intense games I’ve ever coached, start to finish,” Richt said.

The Bulldogs were called for a season-high 14 penalties for 143 yards, also a season-high. Florida also struggled with penalties to the tune of 10 for 95 yards. Richt didn’t seem too concerned about it going forward, indicating he saw it as a one-game situation.

“Emotions were so high, and the officials, they’re in the heart of it; they knew what was going on. They were trying to do whatever they could to slow it down, because they knew that our guys were wanting to get after each other,” Richt said. “It got to a point where if you did anything like that, the flag was gonna fly, because they didn’t want it to escalate. But we’ve got to keep from doing that. But, on the other hand, I don’t want to lose intensity. You want intensity with discipline.”

Fullback update

Starting fullback Merritt Hall sprained his ankle on Georgia’s first offensive play Saturday. Richt didn’t know how bad Hall’s injury was or whether he can play against Mississippi this week.

But junior Zander Ogletree, previously buried on the depth chart, had a solid game in Hall’s place, catching a couple passes and blocking well.

“He played a heck of a ballgame,” Richt said. “He was very physical in his run-blocking. He didn’t seem to have many mental errors at all. I don’t know if he had any missed assignments. Caught the ball a couple times. Got a nice first down. ... So he did come in and play well. But Merritt’s been playing well all year, and we’re hoping to get him back as soon as we can.”

Extra points

Richt said he didn’t know why sophomore offensive lineman Watts Dantzler was not on the travel roster. ... Despite his rough first half that included three interceptions, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray still ranks second in the SEC and 15th nationally in pass efficiency rating.

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