After completing the regular season with 10 straight wins, the 12th-ranked Georgia football team began preparations on Monday for Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta against LSU.
In a steady rain and with temperatures dipping into the 40s, the Dawgs worked out for just over an hour under the lights on the Woodruff Practice Fields.
“I think you have more energy when it’s cold,” coach Mark Richt said with a laugh. “When it’s cold and rainy, everybody wants to move around and get it done quickly. Everybody’s in good spirits. We’re excited. There’s only two teams in the league right now practicing and getting ready for the championship game, and we know we’re in a very privileged spot and hopefully we’ll take advantage of it.”
The Dawgs pushed their win streak to 10 straight with last week’s regular-season-finale victory over Georgia Tech. After an 0-2 start, the Dawgs wound up at 10-2 overall. LSU is ranked No. 1 with a 12-0 mark.
“It’s a great feeling, especially coming up from starting off 0‑2 to really turn the season around,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “This is a very young team, and I think we definitely have matured during the season. And just taking each week individually, we have gotten better week by week. We feel good with the progress we’ve made and the direction we’re heading right now.”
Saturday’s game at the Georgia Dome will kick off at 4 p.m. and will be televised by CBS. Georgia is making its fourth appearance in the SEC Championship Game as the SEC Eastern Division representative, winning the league title in 2002 and 2005.
Richt said the captains for Saturday’s game will be offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, tight end Orson Charles, cornerback Brandon Boykin and linebacker Jarvis Jones.
“It’s been a great run,” Jones said. “We started at the bottom of the polls. Everybody was counting us out early with the two losses to Boise State and South Carolina. But we kept our composure. We stayed together as a unit. We locked in, and we believed in each other. We’ve had some great things happen for us. We had a lot of players step up, coaches step up, and everybody kept the faith. Things have been going great.”
One of Georgia’s losses — the season opener against Boise State — came in the Georgia Dome, the site of Saturday’s game. But Boykin said much has changed since the first week.
“We’re a totally different team from the first game in the Dome,” Boykin said. “Everybody has a lot more experience, and they’ll be able to play in that environment and know what it’s like to play in a big game. We had a lot of freshmen, a lot of young guys, that had to play that first game against a very experienced Boise team. Now that the season’s progressed, they aren’t freshmen anymore. They know how to play in those types of games. We’ll definitely be ready.”
“We were trying to get back to the Dome for a second time, we accomplished that goal and now we want to take advantage of our situation,” Richt said. “We want to be prepared. Not only were we trying to get back to the Dome on a weekly basis, but we were trying to improve to the point where if we did get back to the Dome, we’d be ready. And hopefully we will be.”