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November 28, 2012

Jones focused on Tide

You'll hear Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's name mentioned as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate, but what about Georgia's Jarvis Jones?

Jones has some impressive numbers - 71 tackles, including 19.5 tackles for losses of 107 yards and 10.5 sacks, one interception, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in only 10 games this season.

But because he's missed two games, Jones' name has slid down the list of individuals expected to be invited to New York City, although Wednesday he didn't seem too concerned.

"I don't know. I really haven't been thinking about it," Jones said after practice. "I just think about things I can control right now and that's Alabama."

Jones said he couldn't be more excited about Saturday's SEC title game against the second-ranked Crimson Tide.

"I'm very excited to play those guys; they're big-time football," Jones said. "It's going to be a battle."

Jones has played his best in some of Georgia's bigger games this year.

In the Bulldogs' SEC opener at Missouri, Jones made eight tackles, picked off a pass and recorded a sack to help lead Georgia to its 41-20 win.

He was even more impressive against Florida.

Against the Gators, he was simply dominant, recording a career-high 13 tackles with three sacks, recovered two fumbles and forced two more as Georgia defeated its arch-rival, 17-9.

His numbers haven't been quite so impressive the last few weeks, but that's been no fault of his own.

"Playing two options teams (Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech) back-to-back made it difficult for him to get a sack and really at his position you're not going to get a lot of tackles unless you're a middle linebacker against that kind of scheme and team," head coach Mark Richt said. "But he's had a good year and a great career so far."

Jones - who Wednesday was tabbed to the American Football Coaches Association All-American Team - laughed that he's actually looking forward to facing Alabama because the Crimson Tide won't be coming to Atlanta looking to play any games.

"I like games like this, there's no trickery; nobody's trying to hide the ball from you. It's going to be grown-man football. I like that," Jones said. "You take teams like Georgia Tech and some of these other teams, they try to hide the ball and you've got to try and find it. Here, you line up and play football. Men play football and that's what we're going to do."

Jones knows dealing with Alabama's big, physical front seven won't be an easy chore.

"They're huge - huge. They're very physical, guys that are passionate about this game and guys who play as one unit," he said. "It's going to be a huge challenge for us - a battle. It's going to be something to see."

Bennett healing on schedule

Injured wide receiver Michael Bennett spoke to the media for the first time since tearing an ACL and reported that his injury is healing right on schedule.

"I feel like I'm really far along," Bennett said. "Actually, the doctor who did my surgery says I'm his poster child, so that was pretty cool. He said my knee looks really great right now, so that was encouraging."

Bennett will begin running in a pool next week before being cleared to run on the ground later next month.

He expects to be allowed to run non-contact drills in March when spring practice begins and by June be ready to resume full football activities.

"By June, I should have the leash off me and do what I used to do," added Bennett, who said he's received countless get-well wishes, including one from South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore.

• In other injury news, Richt said that wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (shoulder contusion) and cornerback Damian Swann (neck) will both play in Saturday's championship game despite being limited in practice again on Wednesday.

"They're both fine. I just didn't want to stir up what's been bothering them," Richt said. "If we had played today, both would have played. We just didn't want them to light it up."

• Bennett said defensive end Abry Jones (ankle) still hopes to able to play in the Bulldogs' bowl game.

Chick-fil-A Bowl announces final list of teams

The Chick-fil-A Bowl announced Wednesday that the bowl's executive committee has focused its attention on eight teams. The Georgia Bulldogs were not one.

There has been speculation that if Georgia loses Saturday's SEC title game to Alabama that the Chick-fil-A Bowl could be a likely spot for the team to fall.

But according to bowl selection chairman Leeman Bennett that now does not appear likely.

According to a blog released Tuesday by Bennett, the Chick-fil-Bowl will decide between three teams from the ACC - Clemson, North Carolina State and Florida State which it will match up against the representative from the SEC - LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

Bennett's blog did, however include a special note which stated that the "final thing to consider would be our role to protect the runner-up in the SEC Championship Game that could see either Georgia or Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Bowl this year. Again, not very likely, but something to consider."

This and that

Although the Bulldogs will not hold a workout Friday at the Georgia Dome, Richt said he hasn't ruled out letting his special teams players get in a workout, particularly kicker Marshall Morgan. … Aaron Murray has been named a finalist for the Peyton Manning Award. … Georgia held a two-hour practice in jerseys, shorts and helmets Wednesday as the team finalizes preparations for its game against Alabama. "I thought the energy level was good, and the scouts did a good job and we competed well during 11-on-11 at the end," said Richt. When asked if the excitement of the upcoming championship game was evident in the players as Saturday approaches, Richt said he saw it a bit today and reminded the team to stay in the moment and focus on the process, and their job. "I've been practicing what I've been telling the players, and for me it's to think about my job and certain situations that may come up during the game," Richt added. "It was called the 'iffy' meeting that Coach (Bobby) Bowden had. If this comes up…if this happens… you have to have a plan now of what you're going to do and not try to deal with it for the first time during a game with the emotion. It's all about preparation."



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