Mark Richt uses the A-word to describe his team’s mindset in the wake of the Liberty Bowl loss:
In the long run, the 10-6 loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl may have served a positive purpose. It spurred some personnel changes, as head coach Mark Richt alluded earlier this week.
“It was certainly something that jump-started our offseason,” Richt said. “A bunch of guys I think believed that at that point, and I believed as the head coach, we’re gonna find out who’s all-in and who’s not. You know, you’re either in or you’re out. You decide. And I’m not gonna be mad if you’re out, just get out. You know. If you’re in, good, then you do it the way we say. I think the guys understood that’s the way it’s gotta be, and I think it helped us in that way more than anybody else.”
Interestingly, Richt sounds like a man who thinks his work on that front is finished.
He said Sunday that he felt there was positive momentum in the program, and that likely wouldn’t be derailed by a loss. But considering last year, the hope is to avoid finding out.
“I think our players understand why (Central Florida) won. And why we didn’t. And I think that really, it was probably more valuable in our offseason than maybe it is this week,” Richt said. “I don’t think we’re thinking about it right now. But we thought about it a lot when we started our offseason and how we didn’t want to go through that again.”
So what are they thinking about now? Next season.
“Coach has been telling us that this game is like the beginning of next year as far as rankings and stuff like that,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “If we’re able to win this game, it will help out rankings going into the next year.”
Even before the new year, Georgia landed at No. 5 in the early 2012 rankings at NationalChamps.net behind LSU, Alabama, Southern California and Oregon. South Carolina was No. 6. The Bulldogs again have a favorable SEC schedule.
“Expecations will probably be off the chart,” Geoirgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. “I’m sure we’ll be highly ranked going into next year. How do we handle that? Are we just as hungry as we were last year? Are we hungrier? Are we doing everything we can to avoid complanceny?”
There’s the challenge. I suspect we’ll find something out about that today.