Georgia Game Means a lot to Pouncey

Michael Pouncey

Mike Pouncey didn't think this day was coming. His final game against Georgia will come this Saturday, and he will experience the game day traditions one last time. From the moment the team bus reaches the top of the bridge and looks down on the stadium to the traffic the team sits in while fighting to get to the stadium, it's the little things that make the rivalry one of his favorites.

But mention losing to Georgia, and the feel good moments are over.

Michael Pouncey can only shake his head and think back to the feeling he experienced in 2007 after Georgia danced in the end zones to celebrate and then beat the Gators on the field.

"When we lost to them the first time, it was embarrassing," Pouncey said. "This is one of our biggest rivals of the year. We take this game very seriously. It's a great game with the atmosphere. We don't need any more motivation to play Georgia."

That doesn't mean they won't see the replays of the Georgia celebration more than they care to this week. It will be up on monitors of the weight room and the football facility, just as it has been in recent years.

"We haven't yet, but we watch it every year," Pouncey said. "It's motivation to the team. We've got to go out and play Saturday. Them running on the field (in 2007) isn't going to help us win."

The offense will be facing a Georgia defense that boasts a new look. First-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham brought a 3-4 defense from the Dallas Cowboys to Athens, and the unit has come a long way in the last three games.

"They have a good defense, and they've been playing better," Pouncey said. "They struggled like we are, but they're getting better as a team."

There's an optimism surrounding Pouncey. He saw the mindset of the team at practice last week and likes where they're at.

"I've seen a bunch of guys that want to win," Pouncey said. "We practiced hard during the bye week. Most teams don't do that, but we did. We practiced like we had a game on Saturday."

Head coach Urban Meyer signaled a frustration in the productivity in Florida's practices. Pouncey pointed to how many players the Gators lost from last season, and the time it takes for new players to learn how Florida practices.

The bye week was important to give the coaches a chance to go back to teaching fundamentals and work with the team.

"You practice like you play," Pouncey said. "If you practice half speed, that's how you're going to play. You don't get the same look in practice as you do in a game because you're going against scout team guys. That's something we've been trying to key on this week. We're executing a lot better than we have, and we're finishing."

Regaining Chris Rainey should help the offense against Georgia, but it's special for Pouncey. The high school teammates at Lakeland have a friendship that goes long before that, so they are happy just to be reunited on the field.

"He's one of those guys who can take it to the house on any play," Pouncey said. "Like I've been saying all year, he's our best player."

The enthusiasm around an improved offense and Rainey's return will still be meaningless if the team loses to Georgia. The potential of a four-game losing streak is almost unheard of in the lifetime of the Florida players, and they are looking towards Saturday to start a winning streak.

"If we don't win this game, then we're going to have a lot of disappointed faces," Pouncey said.
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