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September 14, 2007
Western Carolina at Georgia Preview
After Georgia suffered yet another loss to its coaching nemesis, Western Carolina could find itself facing a Bulldogs team looking to take out its frustrations Saturday.
The No. 23 Bulldogs (1-1) try to put yet another defeat to
Steve Spurrier out of their minds when they face the lowly Catamounts (0-2) at Sanford Stadium.
Georgia continued to be dominated by Spurrier last week, as South Carolina upset the Bulldogs 16-12 in Athens. The defeat to the Gamecocks and Spurrier, who guided Florida to victories over Georgia in 11 of his 12 years as coach there, dropped the Bulldogs 11 spots in the Top 25 this week.
Mark Richt looked to put the emotionally charged matchup with Spurrier in the past this week and have his young team concentrating only on Western Carolina.
"We've got to be focused on getting better each week," Richt said. "We've got to keep working hard on the little things. There's still plenty of football left to be played. Our goal is to get better and play the best game we can on Saturday."
Richt's team has plenty of areas to work on - the biggest being the passing game. Quarterback
Matthew Stafford was efficient and effective in the Bulldogs' 35-14 season-opening win over Oklahoma State, but he had a rough afternoon against South Carolina.
The sophomore was 19-of-44 for 213 yards and one interception, was sacked three times and couldn't get Georgia into the end zone - the first time the Bulldogs have failed to score a touchdown since a 14-9 home loss to South Carolina in 2001.
"We just have to make plays; that's what it boils down to," Stafford said. "We have to keep working hard and move on."
Georgia's youth and inexperience appeared to be a factor for the first time last week, but at least one of those young players came through, as freshman tailback
Knowshon Moreno ran 14 times for 104 yards and had a 50-yard scamper in the third quarter.
Thomas Brown added 49 yards on 12 carries, although that was the extent of the Bulldogs' ground game, as they were held to 128 yards rushing by the Gamecocks.
"We have a lot of character," Moreno said. "We are not going to keep our heads down. We are going to fix our mistakes and get ready for the next opponent. They did a good job offensively and defensively. We had some success running the ball, but they did a good job on defense and we just came up short."
Georgia doesn't want that to happen again this week against a Western Carolina team that lost 45-21 to Eastern Kentucky on Saturday - the Catamounts' 11th straight defeat. The Catamounts gave up 326 yards rushing, and Mike Malone's touchdown catch in the second period was Western Carolina's first in nine quarters, dating to last season.
Malone is one player Georgia will need to keep an eye on after his performance last week. The senior piled up 322 all-purpose yards against Eastern Kentucky, including 161 on kickoff returns.
It wasn't enough, however, to help the Catamounts to their first victory since last Sept. 16, when they defeated Eastern Kentucky.
"We are going to focus on what we are doing and what makes us better and building our football program for the future," coach
Kent Briggs said. "The (losing) streak is going to end. But, we have a tremendous challenge with Georgia this weekend."
Georgia won the only meeting between the schools in Athens in 1991.