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December 28, 2006

Dawgs practice in the Dome

With kickoff for the Chick-fil-A Bowl just two days away, the Georgia Bulldogs held their final practice of the week Thursday at the Georgia Dome.

The Bulldogs (8-4) worked out for two hours in jerseys, helmets, shorts and shoulder pads including the final 60 minutes with jet engine level crowd noise blaring through the Dome speakers. The team began the day with a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast at the Marriott Marquis. From there, it was off to practice and then a team visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic site. Then, the day was capped by an outing to the Georgia Aquarium.

After practice, Bulldog coordinators Willie Martinez and Neil Callaway along with freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford and senior rover Tra Battle, participated in a bowl press conference. The questions ranged from evaluating Saturday's opponent Virginia Tech to playing in the Georgia Dome and providing analysis on this season's performance.

Battle was asked if he thought the Hokies, who are 10-2, are the top team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and how Georgia would measure up to them.

"We'll see Saturday," Battle said. "They are the highest ranked ACC team so arguably they could be thought of as the best team in the ACC."

Battle said that the Bulldogs are used to being considered the underdog this season and hopes they can put up the same performance of the past two games when Georgia recorded wins over two nationally-ranked foes (Auburn and Georgia Tech). He also said he was reminded of how loud the Georgia Dome can get during the final part of practice when the crowd noise was added. Also, it will be important for Georgia to win, especially for the seniors legacy.

The Hokies feature the nation's top-rated scoring defense, allowing 9.3 points a game. Also, they have surrendered just 29 points during their current six-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs rank 17th nationally in scoring defense at 18.9 points a game.

"It all starts up front with your front seven on either side of the ball," said Martinez who coordinates the defense and coaches the secondary. "We have an athletic group on defense, the most in the six years that I've been here. We're not that big up front but we're athletic."

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he would be surprised if either team's offense would be able to run up and down the field on the defense.

"Both teams have good defenses that create touchdowns as well as special teams that do too," said Richt. "Momentum will play a huge part and perhaps the defense or special teams will help set up the offense for a score."

Richt along with Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer will have a joint press conference Friday morning. At noon, the teams will attend a scholarship luncheon. The Bulldogs will have a final walk-through in the afternoon.

FCA Breakfast The day began with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast at the Marriott Marquis, featuring keynote speakers Irvin Fryar and Jeff Francoeur.

Virginia Tech Hospital Visit Hokie players took time out during their busy bowl week schedule share in the spirit of the holiday season and continue Chick- fil-A's dedication to the community by visiting with Atlanta's youth at Egleston Children's Hospital.

Players Visit MLK Jr. Center Both teams explored Atlanta's history and culture on separate visits to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

Georgia Aquarium Visit Players, coaches and staff from University of Georgia toured the Georgia Aquarium.

ATLANTA (AP) -- No. 14 Virginia Tech looks to conclude its season on a seven-game winning streak Saturday when it hosts Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

The Hokies (10-2) had a streaky season, winning their first four games, then dropping back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference contests to Georgia Tech and Boston College before ending the campaign with six straight triumphs.

By blanking intrastate rival Virginia, 17-0, Virginia Tech joined Southern California as the only teams in the country to win at least 10 games the past three seasons. Texas also can accomplish the feat with an Alamo Bowl victory over Iowa on Saturday.

While Virginia Tech went 6-2 in the ACC to finish second in the Coastal Division, Georgia (8-4) went 4-4 in the rugged Southeastern Conference, coming in third in the East Division.

The Bulldogs started their season with five straight wins before dropping four of five. But they rebounded to win their last two games, stunning Auburn on the road, 37-15, before besting Georgia Tech at home, 15-12.

The teams split two meetings in 1931 and 1932. The squads were members of the Southern Conference for the first encounter before Georgia left to join the newly formed SEC.

The game formerly was known as the Peach Bowl.



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