Shanks: Georgia takes care of business against Georgia Southern

sports@macon.comNovember 17, 2012 

ATHENS -- There’s nothing special about a team doing what it is supposed to do. Georgia was supposed to beat Georgia Southern on Saturday in Athens, and it did.

It wasn’t the most impressive showing of football, and it definitely didn’t keep people in the seats very long. For Georgia Southern, it picked up a nice check on the way out of Sanford Stadium. For Georgia, it simply did what it had to do to win.

That’s all that’s important right now for Georgia. The Bulldogs have to keep winning, and there’s something to say about playing well, too. They don’t need a game like they had in Lexington, when they beat Kentucky but looked bad doing it. They need to play good football to prepare for the better competition on the horizon.

But first, they have a little state business to take care of with the two games to end the regular season.

Georgia Southern was a good opponent for Georgia. The Eagles allowed the Bulldogs to prepare for Georgia Tech, the team Georgia will play this week that runs the same offense. Plus, the Eagles don’t quit. They weren’t going to do what Auburn did last week when it pretty much gave up by halftime. Jeff Monken’s Eagles played hard to the bitter end.

“These games right here are the games that can sneak up on you,” Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “If we had not come to play, Georgia Southern could have easily put up a bunch of points. They’re capable of doing it. For us, we’ve got to execute week by week.”

That’s interesting, really, since that’s exactly what Georgia looks like it’s doing. The Bulldogs have a huge game of national importance Dec. 1 against Alabama, but that’s not their focus -- at least not yet.

“We’re not thinking about that at all,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “We know we have to take it one game at a time. Now it’s on to Georgia Tech.”

Yes, the Georgia Tech game. It’s good old fashion hate week as the Bulldogs will play their state rivals. That’s enough to keep this team grounded, even if you couldn’t blame the Bulldogs for thinking about the SEC title game in two weeks just a little.

But it sure seems like they are staying focused.

“We have bigger goals than just winning the SEC championship,” wide receiver Tavarres King said. “If you want to be a BCS contender, you’ve got to win them all. We’ve just focused on winning each game and taking care of everything during the week.”

Some underestimate the importance of the rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech, but don’t count the Bulldogs’ players among those believing that. They know that losing to the Yellow Jackets this week might get in the way of something special, not to mention the ire of fans who still count this as one of the most important games of the year.

“It’s huge,” King said. “It’s a big game. It’s one you’ve got to get. There’s so much hate in that game. It’s crazy. I didn’t understand the rivalry until 2008 when they beat us here. From that point on, it’s been a different atmosphere around here.”

“It’s a special game,” Murray said. “It means a lot to the people of this state. There’s a lot of talk going on between the Tech fans and the UGA fans. It’s a lot of fun to be apart of. I’m 2-0 right now (against Georgia Tech), so I want to keep undefeated in that category.”

At times earlier in the season, Georgia didn’t seem very focused. The Bulldogs looked asleep at times, like the first half of the Missouri game and all four quarters in Columbia, SC. But this team looks different now. The Bulldogs are in a groove they need to be in when they play Alabama in two weeks. But first, there’s more work to do.

“We know that’s there,” Jones admitted. “That’s going to be there regardless. We’ve got to take care of what we’ve got this week coming up.”

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on Twitter@yahoo.com.

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