Don't get Mark Richt wrong.
He's looking forward to taking his 1-3 Bulldogs to Boulder, Colo. for Saturday night's game at Colorado. Just the same, he's glad he won't be taking a similar trip anytime soon.
When Georgia and Oregon agreed to cancel their two-game series, it set the stage for the Bulldogs to have seven home games, a plan athletic director Greg McGarity told UGASports Monday that he wants to be the model starting fulltime with the 2015 campaign. Georgia was scheduled to travel to Oregon in 2015 with the Ducks returning the trip to Athens in 2016.
"It doesn't hurt my feelings, if that's what you're asking," Richt said during Tuesday's weekly press conference at Stegeman Coliseum. "It sounds like a good idea, and it's even kind of romantic I guess, and I guess some fans enjoy taking those kinds of trips but it is tough on your team, your players and coaches."
Richt pointed to the long flight back and the effect it had on the next week's preparations as the biggest reasons why.
"We're scheduled to get in about 6 a.m. after the game so it's tough; it's tough to really be able to get some sleep between a plane, the bus and different time zones, so then we roll into the next game (Tennessee) with that kind of night, which is tough," Richt said. "We've already adjusted Sunday, what we'll do different at least as a staff, to try to get some sleep for our sanity, try to give respect to the game that was just played, but also to move forward."
According to Richt, the idea to travel west to play came from good intentions.
But the Bulldogs soon learned after their trip to Arizona State two seasons ago, that the bad far outweighed any positive.
It didn't help Richt's feelings that the following week his Bulldogs were bludgeoned by Alabama, which jumped out to a 31-0 halftime lead and never looked back, winning 41-30.
Richt said he agreed with the original idea of playing non-conference games against teams from outside the southeast.
"I agreed to it. It was a decision made really by our administration, myself and I'm sure our president had a say in it also. But with the 12th game, as you all will remember, everybody was trying to figure out what to do with that 12th game and the thought came up to play a non-conference team out of our region because we hadn't done it much in the history of Georgia football," Richt said. "It was something we thought a lot of fans would enjoy and we thought it would be a good thing from a media point of view. But after that first trip to Arizona State, it was very similar to the travel time and what it did to everybody, it just wore them out."
Georgia is scheduled to begin a home-and-home with Louisville next season and in 2013 with Clemson. The Bulldogs will play a seven-game home schedule in 2011 but it won't likely be until 2015 before Georgia will begin having a seven-game home slate full time.
Richt likes that idea.
"I think the city of Athens would probably enjoy another home game. I know the revenue that's brought into the city every time we have a home game; there's revenue brought into the program whenever you have a home game," Richt said. "I think it's more of a hindsight comment that I'm making, but I think it's probably a better idea to do it that way."
Ealey to lose snaps
Turnovers are apparently going to cost running back Washaun Ealey some playing time.
Tuesday, both offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and running backs coach Bryan McClendon said that both Carlton Thomas and Caleb King will get their respective chances to prove that they should start Saturday night's game at Colorado.
Ealey will still play but both coaches say he will not receive as many snaps as he has in the past three games.
"I think guys have to rewarded for doing the right things and guys have to be punished for some things that are going to hurt our team, and hurt our chances for being successful on the field," McClendon said. "It's not taking anything away from Washaun, but Carlton and Caleb, they've earned it. They've done a good time of securing the ball and not missing many assignments, either."
Ealey has only turned the football over twice, but both have been costly as both have come inside the 5-yard line (against South Carolina and Mississippi State) likely costing Georgia touchdowns.
"There's a thing in your thought process of what you should do when you know it's (a hit) about to go down," McClendon said. "All those things compound it. It was a hard hit and people will look and see that he took a good shot. But it (the game) could have had a whole different outcome if he had held onto the ball."
No big changes forthcoming
During Sunday's teleconference, Richt indicated he would talk further with his coaches to determine if any personnel changes needed to be made in light of the Bulldogs' 1-3 start.
Apparently, the changes will be few.
"There nothing drastic. I guess the most drastic personnel change would be A.J. getting in the game. We hope (Kris) Durham will be ready to play. He's still suffering a little bit from a stinger, but I don't see a major overhaul," Richt said. "There might be one kid starting over another here or there, but I don't think we're going to just not play a certain guy. If a starter ends up being second team, we still plan on playing that guy. We just have to get better."
Richt did say that Tanner Strickland will continue to start for Chris Davis at right guard. Davis has been bothered by hip and knee injuries, and although Richt said the former Jefferson standout is healthy, Strickland will continue to start.
This and that
Durham (pinched nerve) is listed as probable for Saturday.
Backup offensive lineman Ben Harden (foot) and backup cornerback Jordan Love (unspecified injury) did not practice Tuesday.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham scoffed at the notion that the high altitude in Boulder will have any effect on his players or the way he plans on rotating them in the game. "Nothing to it," said Grantham, who coached games in Denver three times during his career as an NFL assistant.
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