ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia football team kicked off preparations for Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Alabama with a 60-minute workout on the Woodruff Practice Fields on Monday.
The No. 3 Bulldogs and the No. 2 Crimson Tide will square off Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Each school went 11-1 in winning its respective league division title. The game will be televised nationally by CBS.
"It's a blessing for our program that we have that opportunity to be practicing this week," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "There are only two teams in our league practicing to get ready for the championship game, so we look at it as a privilege to be out here. Everyone is in good spirits, and I thought the energy and tempo tonight were good. We need to do all the right things this week to be ready for the opportunity and for the challenge that we have on Saturday."
Before Monday's practice, three Bulldogs took part in a teleconference with the media to help promote the SEC Championship Game.
"It's just a wonderful opportunity for us," linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "(For) Bulldog Nation to get a chance to play in this game means so much to us. We're just looking forward to it. Very happy. Had a great season thus far. Lot of guys sacrificed a lot, many hours, practices, fighting through injuries and all that stuff just to get to the point where we are today. We're just grateful for this opportunity. … We understand the weight that this game holds. It's a big challenge for us. It's a great opportunity, so we really want to make the best of it. We're glad to get to this point. We've worked tremendously hard all season and offseason, and our focus is to go in here and give it everything we've got."
"We're very excited about the opportunity that we have playing such a great Alabama team," receiver Tavarres King said. "The SEC Championship is going to be a high energy game. I think our focus this week is going to be getting after it like we have week in and week out this season, in practice, and hopefully that correlates over to the game on Saturday. … If we win this game, we're SEC champions. That alone is enough motivation for us to get after it this Saturday. Our main focus and objective is winning this game and winning the SEC Championship. Our focus is all on the Crimson Tide right now. … Week in and week out (in the SEC), it's a fight, it's a battle. Every Saturday, you've got to put the pads on and go to work because it's a tough league. Anybody can slip up and beat anybody. So I think it's so rewarding to get to the SEC Championship because it's a hard road. It really is."
"I think our coaching staff has done a great job every week just getting us prepared for what we face," linebacker Christian Robinson said. "And we did happen to play two option teams back‑to‑back, but we also went against our offense every day in practice for at least four periods of just getting back to normal football for us. It was intense. We did well. … I know that we'll just take what we've done up to this point and continue to be disciplined and work hard. Our practices haven't slowed up. We've intensified in the past two weeks. I think we're in better shape than we were prior. That would just help us getting ready for this game. We've played two physical teams, cut‑blocking teams, and we have our hands full this week with a big offensive line and some great skill position players. … They have great athletes and great coaching. When those two things are as well done as Alabama does, you're going to have some problems. We're just going to do everything we can this week to get prepared for it. They're the best team we'll face up to this point."
Richt announced the captains will be Jones, guard Chris Burnette, safety Bacarri Rambo and nose John Jenkins.
Monday's injury report included nose Mike Thornton, who missed practice with a right ankle sprain sustained against Georgia Tech.
In other news on Monday:
• Rambo was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week following the Bulldogs’ win over Georgia Tech. Rambo shared the award with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Rambo also was named the National Defensive Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. Rambo matched Jake Scott’s Georgia mark for career interceptions with his 16th, which is tied for seventh all-time in SEC history. Rambo added eight tackles, two forced fumbles and a 49-yard fumble return against Georgia Tech. Rambo also stands third in school history with 293 interception return yards, 22 behind Scott’s 315.
• Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has been chosen as one of the five finalists for the Broyles Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top assistant coach. The Bulldogs are averaging 38.0 points (with a school-record 456 points) and 463.7 total yards per game. Quarterback Aaron Murray has passed for more than 3,200 yards and 30 touchdowns, while tailback Todd Gurley has rushed for 1,138 yards. Murray is the first quarterback in SEC history to pass for 3,000 yards in three straight seasons.
• The SEC reminds fans to take precaution when purchasing SEC Football Championship tickets on the secondary market. Georgia, Alabama and the SEC advise buyers to be aware of possible counterfeit or stolen tickets. Any individual in possession of a counterfeit or stolen ticket will be denied access into the game. The SEC and the Georgia Dome will be offering a “Ticket Validation Window” at the main box office of the Georgia Dome beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and the authenticity of the ticket can be confirmed by a box office representative on site. When purchasing tickets on the secondary market, fans are advised to look for the authentic SEC holographic foil on several locations of the tickets. Two strips of the foil are located at the top of the ticket. The championship game logo in the middle of the ticket also contains the foil. Within the foil, the SEC circle logo and the words “Southeastern Conference” should be visible when rotating the ticket back and forth.