Richt changes up routines

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ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's longest losing streak in 20 years has coach Mark Richt searching for answers.

Mark Richt: Georgia coach will lead his squad onto the field this Saturday vs. Tennessee in hopes of providing a spark.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Mark Richt: Georgia coach will lead his squad onto the field this Saturday vs. Tennessee in hopes of providing a spark.

The Bulldogs are scuffling to get their first Southeastern Conference victory -- and so is this week's opponent, Tennessee.

The Volunteers are in their first season under coach Derek Dooley, son of longtime Georgia coach Vince Dooley. Their football program is still trying to stabilize after the abrupt departure of coach Lane Kiffin nine months ago.

Georgia's program, in its 10th season under Richt, has hit the crossroads of mediocrity with a .500 record over its past 18 games. Even worse, the Bulldogs have dropped seven of nine in the SEC.

Time to change the routine.

For the first time in his 10 seasons at Georgia, Richt had the players in full pads on a Monday after a game. The Bulldogs blocked and tackled. First-team offense against first-team defense, just like in the spring.

"I've never done that," Richt said Tuesday. "Monday is usually a day in shorts, and we do a little running and lifting and meeting. We install a little bit just from a mental standpoint, almost a glorified walkthrough."

But not this week. Georgia (1-4, 0-3) is too soft in pass protection, too prone to fumble and too likely to give up big chunks of yardage in its new 3-4 defensive scheme.

"I'd say across the board we just haven't been good enough," Richt said. "There have been some bright spots, there have been some good things that have happened, but we just haven't done it good enough as a team."

Richt also is taking a more active role emotionally. When the Bulldogs are introduced to the Sanford Stadium crowd Saturday, he will be the first person to run onto the field.

Over the years, Richt has made similar moves. He dressed the team in black a few times, and the coach takes the team to the school's natatorium every summer practice for his customary reverse off the high-dive.

Occasionally, he has gathered players to the sideline during games to get their collective attention, as he did in last month's home loss to Arkansas.

Georgia linebacker Akeem Dent believes Richt's decision to have a "live" practice Monday was beneficial. He knows the Bulldogs need to try everything they can to snap the school's longest skid since 1990.

"Guys were upbeat and up-tempo and just ready to compete," Dent said. "It kind of sparked a little more fire and a little more energy throughout the guys in the locker room."

Saturday's games

- Tennessee at Georgia, noon (CBS-Ch. 12)

- Clemson at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m. (ABC-Ch. 6)

- Virginia at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

- Alabama at South Carolina, 3:30 p.m. (CBS-Ch. 12)

- Wofford at Georgia Southern, 6 p.m. (No TV)

Uga VIII to make debut against Vanderbilt

The Seiler family will introduce Uga VIII, the new University of Georgia bulldog mascot, on Oct. 16 at a pregame ceremony before the homecoming game against Vanderbilt.

Uga VIII will replace Russ, half-brother of the previous mascot, who stepped in when Uga VII died Nov. 19, 2009, said Swann Seiler, whose family has owned and bred the UGA bulldogs since 1956.

Russ knew his was only a temporary position. At 5, he is too old to become a permanent replacement, Swann's father, Sonny Seiler, said over the summer.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to take on the Commodores at 12:21 p.m. in Sanford Stadium.

-- Morris News Service


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