ATHENS -- A meeting with Alabama next week looms over the Georgia football program.
If the Bulldogs can defeat the Crimson Tide, they would be in great position when it comes to the SEC East race.
With a game of that magnitude on the horizon, it’s certainly tough to not think about the upcoming regular-season showdown to take place Oct. 3 at Sanford Stadium.
But another game is scheduled beforehand, and it’s one Georgia’s players say has their full attention. Southern is coming to town Saturday, serving as a tune-up before Georgia’s game against Alabama, which already has been picked as the CBS SEC game of the week.
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As the buzz continues to build for next week’s game, Georgia knows it can’t overlook Saturday’s opponent.
“We hear it around campus, but in this building, we’re focused on Southern,” running back Keith Marshall said. “They offer a good challenge. Coaches will make sure that we stay focused, and the older guys will make sure we stay focused, so it won’t be a problem.”
Georgia outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins likened this week to last year’s Florida game. Heading into that contest, with the Gators in the midst of a down season, Jenkins said the Bulldogs didn’t approach that week like they should have. The Bulldogs took Florida too lightly and lost 38-20, with the Gators rolling up 418 rushing yards.
Of course, a down Florida squad still can’t be compared talent-wise to Southern. But the concept remains for Georgia, that no opponent will be overlooked this year.
“With the way last season happened with the Florida game and everything, I feel like that was a learning experience for us,” Jenkins said. “With the guys we have this year, I feel like that’s not going to be a problem. We’re going to make sure that we take this one game at a time and treat every opponent the same.”
Georgia has done a good job taking care of FCS opponents under head coach Mark Richt, as it has averaged a winning final score of 48-11 in those games. Richt said his team’s attention to Southern has been spot on, considering how easy it would be to look ahead to Alabama.
“I think we’ve had really good focus, I really do,” Richt said. “I think we’ve worked hard. I think our scout team did a really good job. We just talked about the fact that in football, and most things in life, you’re going to get better or you’re going to get worse. What’s it going to be today? We can’t afford to get worse. We gotta keep getting better.”
Richt said the point of emphasis this week has been on discipline, in relation to penalties and technique.
Through three games, the Bulldogs have committed 21 penalties for 196 yards compared to the 13 for 90 opponents have had.
“We just have to work on not having self-inflicted wounds with discipline and getting better technique-wise,” Richt said.
Southern is coming off back-to-back games in which it scored 50 points, indicating it can score in bunches for its level of play. But the Jaguars did lose their season-opener 62-15 to Louisiana Tech.
But don’t tell left tackle John Theus about any kind of talent discrepancy. Much like his teammates, he has taken a focused approach when it comes to Saturday’s game.
“If we don’t win that game, whatever we do the rest of the season doesn’t matter,” Theus said. “So we’re focused on it. Week by week, it’s the same. We’re not just saying it.”