ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia coach Mark Richt has an exception to the no-beard rule for his players.
Each game the Bulldogs win the turnover margin, the players don’t have to shave that next week. If the margin is even, but the Bulldogs are plus for the season, they still don’t have to shave.
“We actually started that last year,” Richt said Tuesday, then smiled wryly, as media members laughed.
Last year, the Bulldogs had a minus-16 turnover ratio, which ranked 118th out of 120 teams in FBS.
This year, however, there are a lot of scruffy faces around the team, as the Bulldogs are at plus-four.
“It’s a big deal,” said linebacker Christian Robinson, who has let his hair grow a bit. “Everybody, when we used to go back on Monday, we would talk about how we had to shave this week. It’s motivation. When you start to see the younger guys on the sideline say, ‘Man, we don’t have to shave,’ it’s kind of funny.”
Praise from Spurrier
Georgia defeated two of the league’s worst teams, but the resurgence has been noticed by one old nemesis: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
“Yeah, Georgia played very well, ran the ball, threw the ball (against Vandy). They looked like the best team in the SEC probably last week and the week before against Tennessee. They got their act together,” Spurrier said. “They are still in the hunt in the East. Heck, everybody is in the hunt.
“Well, heck Vanderbilt is still in the hunt. I think in the conference they are 1-2, yep, they’ve only got two losses. That Eastern side, Tennessee is a little bit in a hole, I guess, at 0-3, but, anyway, most of us have just played four games, a few have played five. It’s pretty much wide open.”
On par with Dunn?
Tailback Carlton Thomas has done better off the bench, compared to the few times he has been a featured back. The sophomore had two touchdowns in just four carries last Saturday.
But Richt is resisting the designation of Thomas a change-of-pace back.
“He’s not a situational back,” Richt said. “We don’t say, ‘Hey, he’s in there third-and-medium, third-and-long.’ He’s in there first, second and third down. We substitute more by series than we do situation, or if a guy is just gassed.”
Richt compared the 5-foot-7 Thomas to Warrick Dunn, whom Richt coached at Florida State and went on to the NFL.
“Everyone was like, ‘You can’t feed the guy that many. He can’t run between the tackles.’ That wasn’t true,” Richt said. “He was getting probably 17-25 carries and at least 25 touches a game, sometimes receiving the ball. It never bothered him, and he did it in the NFL a good bit too. I think Carlton is probably as tough as Warrick Dunn was.”
Wide receiver A.J. Green said he texted with former teammate Mohammed Massaquoi after seeing Massaquoi get hit hard in an NFL game. Pittsburgh’s James Harrison was fined $75,000 by the league for the hit on Massaquoi, who might miss Cleveland’s next game.
Massaquoi told Green he is OK. Green, expected to join him in the NFL soon, was asked what he thought of the big hits, which have become a hot topic this week.
“I hope I don’t ever get to experience one of those, especially in the head like that,” Green said. “But, you know; it comes with the game; you’ve just got to be prepared.
“I’ll just try to cover up, whatever. I know I’ll get a couple licks; it’s the NFL. You’ve just got to get up from it.”