December 20, 2011

Home for the holidays



Georgia wrapped up the Athens portion of its Outback Bowl preparations, before head coach Mark Richt sent his players home for the Christmas break until re-convening in Tampa on Dec. 26.

Richt said the six days on the practice field was time well spent.

"I thought we prepared well," Richt said." I thought we had just the right number of practices. I think we practiced for a good amount of time and everything we did was valuable as far as the fundamental work, the scheming and the scout team work and the special teams work."

Once in Tampa, the Bulldogs are scheduled to practice for the first time on Dec. 27, the first of five practices which will be held at the University of Tampa.

Kickoff against 12th-ranked Michigan State is slated for 1 p.m.

"We'll be there for eight days which is a little bit longer than normal, because the Jan. 1 date ended up on a Sunday and we're playing on the 2nd because of pro football," Richt said. "That's why I gave them an extra day of Christmas vacation because usually we'd be leaving tomorrow."

Bits and pieces

• Richt said his contract extension will be finalized upon the team's return from Tampa. "Oh yeah, it's not a major rush," Richt said. "Greg (athletic director Greg McGarity) and I trust each other and nothing is going to happen before the game, if that's the question."

• On backup quarterback Hutson Mason's possible transfer: "I can understand where he's coming from. I just don't want to get into it, but we have talked, I can say that and I'm trying to help him make a decision, make it a good one for all the right reasons," Richt said. "But we value him. We think he's a good player and we certainly want him to stay, I can tell you that."

Drew, Moore progressing

Both freshman outside linebacker Ray Drew and safety Corey Moore have played sparingly this year, but Richt said he's got big plans for both in the near future.

"Ray has played more in games than Corey has, and has had a chance to taste what it's like to be out there between the Hedges and in a few of the venues that we have gone," Richt said. "He played in the SEC Championship, so he got a lot of work and he's a guy we think will continue to grow, get stronger and become a force for us. We hope that's the case."

Drew played in eight games for the Bulldogs, collecting eight tackles with half a sack.

Moore played in 11 games, primarily on special teams where he made one tackle.

"Corey is a guy who was very valuable on special teams. He got a few scrimmage snaps and we think he's a very talented guy," Richt said. "He's just go to keep learning. Ray's got to keep learning, too, but the guys up front, if they make mistakes, it's not quite as obvious as when you're in the secondary and make a mistake so Corey has to continue to be diligent and continue to learn. But he's well on his way to doing that."

This and that

Defensive end DeAngelo Tyson (ankle) and linebacker Mike Gilliard (ankle) still have not participated in bowl practice for Georgia, but Richt remains hopeful that both will be ready for the Outback Bowl. Offensive guard Chris Burnette (sinus) did not practice Tuesday, but Richt said "he should be fine." Punter Drew Butler (ankle) is expected to be ready to play as well. … Junior linebacker Christian Robinson was voted the winner of the first-ever GATA (Gracious Attitude Toward Answering) Award as voted on by the Georgia beat corps. The award went to the player who always showed up for interviews and questions in an honest and friendly fashion.