ATHENS, Ga. -- From a preparation standpoint, few weeks of practice are more important for Georgia than the days leading up to the Georgia Tech game.
So when the weather wouldn't cooperate on Tuesday, with a combination of rain and near-freezing temperatures creating a miserable environment, the Bulldogs' football staff had to scramble for a way to get in those valuable practice reps. The solution: packing up the entire team and busing 45 miles to Flowery Branch, where they worked out in the Atlanta Falcons' indoor practice facility.
“You do spend a lot of time on the logistics of it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “It's not like we just say, 'Let's go there' or 'Let's start practice and then if it gets bad, we'll go over there.' It's just not that way, so when you have days like this and you're trying to figure out what to do, you spend a lot of time trying to work out all of the details. It's not only me as a coach, but our director of football operations, our managers and trainers, everybody. It changes everybody's life.”
Because of their need to focus on defending Georgia Tech's option-based running game -- and the cut blocks that come with it -- the Bulldogs (7-4) are breaking from their normal practice routine this week and working out in full pads all week. That's why Richt was so appreciative that Falcons officials took his call and allowed him to work in a practice around the NFL club's Tuesday schedule: because the Bulldogs needed the work.
“It was real important because you've got to get good work in,” said Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, whose units have yielded 431 yards and 20.3 points per game in three wins against the Yellow Jackets (7-4). “You try to simulate it as best you can, but being able to go in there and basically go live and tackle and do live blocks -- because that's the only way you can play this stuff is you've got to get in there and experience it -- and we were able to do that today.”
Georgia has an indoor turf field adjacent to its football complex, but the modest facility isn't big enough to host a full-squad practice. Since getting in a full practice was important, and because the weather for Saturday's game in Atlanta should be more tolerable, Richt took the Bulldogs to Flowery Branch to practice for the first time in several seasons.
“When I looked at the weather forecast for the game, it's supposed to be mid-40s and sunny,” Richt said. “If it was going to be rainy and nasty on Saturday, I probably would have practiced here in the rain and the nasty, but I didn't feel like it was that important to do if we weren't going to play in it.”