Past UK games worry Georgia coach

November 19, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Georgia coach Mark Richt must not know that Kentucky has not beaten a top 10 team since 1977, which just happens to be the same year that the Wildcats last won at Georgia.

"We always struggle mightily with Kentucky," said Richt Monday. "Kentucky has always fared well against us. We struggle to stop (quarterback Jared) Lorenzen. We can't hardly tackle the son of a gun. He has a way of finding time to make plays.

"They've got (Derek) Abney who is just a tremendous return guy. He's also a tremendous threat as a receiver. He's burned us before."

Still, No. 6 Georgia (8-2) ranks as a big favorite going into Saturday's game against visiting Kentucky (4-6) and can clinch at least a tie for the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title by beating the Wildcats. If Georgia, Tennessee and Florida all remain tied for the division lead, the Bulldogs would have a chance to win the tiebreaker and play in the SEC championship game.


"The hardest thing to do is motivate, especially at this time of year," Richt said. "At this point, the motivation ought to be pretty easy because there's so much on the line."

Of course, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks thought the same thing last week. His Cats needed a win at Vanderbilt to keep their bowl hopes alive. However, Kentucky's uninspired effort resulted in a 28-17 loss that ended Vanderbilt's 23-game SEC losing streak.

"If we beat Georgia, we have a chance (to go to a bowl). If we don't, we're done, so that's one point," he said. "The other point is, as disappointing as that loss was to Vanderbilt to everybody connected with Kentucky, the elation (with a win) over a No. 6-ranked Georgia team would be just as great.

"There's a lot to play for if you like football and we've got a lot of players that like football. Those guys need to take charge this week and go out and get the rest of the guys excited."

Lorenzen has now thrown for 10,096 yards and is one of only four SEC quarterbacks ever to surpass the 10,000-yard mark. His 78 touchdown passes rank third on the all-time SEC list.

Lorenzen has thrown for 1,113 yards against Georgia

Against Georgia, he's thrown for 1,113 yards and seven touchdowns in three losses. He was 39-for-58 passing for a school-record 528 yards in a 34-30 loss in 2000. the next year he was 32-for-54 for 377 yards in a 43-29 defeat. Last season he was 13-for-27 for 208 yards and led UK to a 24-21 halftime lead before Georgia won 52-24.

"We've never ever felt good going into a Kentucky game," Richt, who is 3-0 against UK, said. "We've got to disguise things and not just let Lorenzen sit back there and pick us apart."

Georgia certainly stifled Auburn's offense last week in a 26-7 win that left Brooks raving about the Bulldogs' talent.

"Georgia is a great football team," he said. "You want to talk about talent, speed, guys that execute (and) fly around and get excited about making plays, this is Georgia. If we play as lethargic as we did (against Vanderbilt) last week against Georgia, they'll run us out of the stadium. It will be ugly - ugly ugly. But we were leading a team (Florida), and probably should have beat a team (Florida) that did beat Georgia."

Brooks noted that Alabama-Birmingham moved the ball well in a 16-13 loss to Georgia and that others have had some success against the Bulldogs.

"They are not invincible," Brooks said. "Sometimes we've had a tendency to play up, or down, to the level of our opponents."

Georgia should be as healthy for the Kentucky game as it has been in several weeks. The Bulldogs have lost seven players to season-ending injuries and several others to less-serious ailments.

Rover Sean Jones and offensive guard Bartley Miller didn't play against Auburn because of shoulder injuries. Jones is coming along better than Miller, but Richt isn't sure if either will be able to play Saturday.

Brooks said Abney (shoulder), offensive tackle Antonio Hall (hip) and center Nick Seitze (hip) should all be fine by Saturday. Special teams player Andrew Hopewell (ankle) is doubtful while backup quarterback Shane Boyd (ankle) and linebacker Raymond Fontaine (ankle) are questionable.

Sophomore running back Arliss Beach ran for a career-high 109 yards at Vanderbilt despite being questionable for the game because of a knee injury that will eventually need surgery.

"When he got his chance to play, he took advantage of it," Brooks said. "He ran as hard as we've had someone run since we've been here. He broke tackles."

Now Brooks is hoping his team can prove that last week's play was a one-game collapse.

"We just didn't get started," he said. "We never got the car out of park. The motor was running, but it wasn't moving."

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