ATHENS - Through a couple days of interviews, one thing is a bit striking about the mindset of Georgia players this week: They are not trying to downplay the magnitude of this game.
"This is definitely the biggest game of my career," senior defensive end Abry Jones said. "There's a lot riding on this game."
"It's the biggest one I've ever played in," senior inside linebacker Christian Robinson said. "I was a part of the Alabama game at home that we lost. And this is the biggest game I've ever played in at this point. That's what we've been talking about, preaching about, (that) if we win this one then the next one is even bigger."
"This is something you circle on your calendar in January," quarterback Aaron Murray said. "It's one that you see on the monitors throughout the Butts-Mehre, playing (replays) of last year's game, and getting you pumped up through the workouts in spring, through summer. So I know our guys are looking forward to it, our guys are excited."
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Oh, there have been some players issuing the usual cliche's, that this is the biggest game because it's the next one. But even after issuing those kinds of platitudes, tight end Arthur Lynch acknowledged the obvious.
"The magnitude, it's definitely higher. Because when you're both undefeated, you're both top 10, and you're both in the same division, there's no hiding it," Lynch said. "I think we're all approaching it (as) we need to win this game to reach our goals. But that being said, if we had an off week this week, or we had a non-conference game, we'd be approaching it the same way. Because where we want to go at the end of the year we've gotta win every single game. ... We all know the importance of this game, and I think because of that, and because I think we'll all remain level-headed, is why I think we have potential to have success this Saturday."
During Mark Richt's weekly press conference, the head coach was asked what he thinks of a top-10 matchup as a coach.
"It's fun, it's exciting. It's nice to be in the middle of the college football world," Richt said. "A couple years ago when we were 6-7 it wasn't very long into that season where no one really cared what Georgia did on any given Saturday. It's not a lot of fun, it's not where you want to be. Last year we kind of got enough rolling where we got a chance to play in some big games and we got to start playing sometime other than noon, and that was nice."
A few other notes from players and Richt's media availability on Tuesday:
- Malcolm Mitchell has basically moved back to offense now, with the defense at full-strength, although he will continue to work at least once a week at cornerback.
"There may be a couple of times when he may do some offense if the defense is working on base defense and he's not getting any reps at that moment," Richt said. "He's primarily an offensive player and he's in a state of readiness on defense."
- Richt read in South Carolina's game notes that Steve Spurrier is seeking his 250th win as a head coach.
"That's a lot of ballgames and a lot of victories. He's one of the best coaches in the country, and he has been for years," Richt siad. "I've got a lot of respect for coach Spurrier."
- The team is preparing for a loud atmosphere in Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night. Murray said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had Murray whispering in practice. And receiver Michael Bennett said he was looking forward to hearing the "Sandstorm" song that the Gamecocks play before the game.
"It's really cool. I actually like how they do it," Bennett said. "It got me pumped up. So I hope they do that again."
Oh, they will.
- Bennett also had a funny answer when asked if, while waiting at the team hotel on Saturday, it would be watching the picks made on ESPN's GameDay, which is originating from Columbia this Saturday.
"Not really," Bennett said, before adding: "I'm sure if Lee Corso picks against us it'll be a little motivator: 'Let's go out and show this old guy.'"