ORLANDO, Fla. — Among the numerous storylines surrounding Georgia’s season finale in the Capital One Bowl is the potential for the Bulldogs’ 1,000-yard receiver club to expand by 200 percent.
For his part, Massaquoi isn’t as concerned about hitting the magic number as he is getting his team to its 10th win of the season.
Both A.J. Green and Mohamed Massaquoi could reach the 1,000-yard mark against Michigan State on Thursday, with Green needing just 49 yards and Massaquoi 90 yards shy.
“It’d be awesome,” said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who hopes to air it out enough against the Spartans that both receivers hit their goal. “It’s only happened one time in Georgia history that anybody’s had 1,000, so to have two guys do it in the same year would be fun.”
“Most importantly we want to win the game,” Massaquoi said, “but long term, looking back on it, it would be something nice to have.”
That doesn’t mean Stafford is anticipating a nice reward for getting the ball to his top two targets so often should Massaquoi and Green finish with 1,000 yards apiece.
“I’m expecting something,” he said, “but I don’t think I’ll get it.”
Injury bug bites
Nearly a dozen players who spent most of December in green non-contact jerseys are hopeful to be ready to play by game time against Michigan State.
Coach Mark Richt said Brannan Southerland, John Knox, Rod Battle and Kris Durham were all able to return to full practices Friday and several other players are getting closer to being ready.
Still, when an Orlando-area television reporter asked Richt if he felt like his team was healthy and 100 percent, it was inquiry the coach quickly shot down.
“No, we’re really not,” Richt said. “We have 22 season-ending injuries, and of those 22, 16 would be participating in the game.
But we’ve still got a bunch of guys out there that are ready to go.”
Tripp Chandler, Andrew Williams and Deangelo Tyson were among the battered Bulldogs still in green Saturday, but Richt was hopeful all would be ready in time for Thursday’s kickoff.
Green back at practice
Among the bevy of Bulldogs returning to full practice was Green, who had sat out most of Georgia’s early bowl preparations with a groin injury he has battled all season.
“He still feels it,” Richt said. “It’s not like he’s 100 percent, but he says it feels better now than it has most of the season.”
Of course, Green, who leads the SEC in receiving, hasn’t let the injury slow him down much this season.
That, however, doesn’t mean Richt isn’t hoping a few months of rest and rehab won’t make the talented freshman an even better receiver next season.
“I’d like to think it held him back a little bit and if he gets healthy, next year he might do even greater things,” Richt said.
“But my guess is once he got warmed up real good, it probably didn’t affect him much.”
Having some fun now
Richt is making sure his players are taking the task of beating Michigan State seriously, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want them to enjoy their time in Orlando, too. In his address to the team Friday, he made sure they knew were excited about the opportunities to be tourists in addition to football players.
“We are probably in the greatest city for those types of things in the world,” Richt said. “I said, ‘You guys enjoy it.’ A lot of guys maybe went when they were kids, and there’s no shame in acting like a kid when you’re here.”
So what might Richt be most looking forward to doing with his downtime in Orlando? “Taking a couple naps maybe,” he said.
A trio of Bulldogs didn’t make the team’s first practice in Orlando due to travel dilemmas in Atlanta, but Asher Allen, Johnathan Owens and John DeLaureal were all back at work Saturday morning.
“They’re all here,” Richt said. “Not long after we got back to the hotel, they were there.”
Georgia may have had higher hopes than a trip to the Capital One Bowl when the season started, but now that the Bulldogs are in Orlando and practicing for Michigan State, the disappointment of missing out on a BCS bowl is long gone.
“We’ve been through all that kind of talk once the regular season ended, and a lot of things were said and felt,” Richt said. “But right now, I hope they’re really enjoying this experience and I hope they take seriously the moments we are working.”
Going to Disney World
Georgia’s players visited Disney World on Saturday, something Allen said he hadn’t done since he was 8 or 9 years old. The cornerback said he had good memories from his last trip, however, and was hoping to relive a few.
“I’ll talk to Minnie Mouse,” he said, “and rekindle some flames.”