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No. 23 UGA looks to catch a win vs. Catamounts

ATHENS - A dropped pass can affect a receiver much the same way a loss hurts a team.

'It definitely brings your confidence down, but the only thing that can bring it back up is to get another ball thrown to you,' said Georgia tight end Tripp Chandler.

'As soon as you catch the next ball you're like 'OK, I've got it back again. I'm ready to go.'

Consider No. 23 Georgia extremely eager to catch its next winning pass today against Western Carolina.

Georgia's 16-12 loss to South Carolina last week has not been easy to forget, and even a win over Western Carolina would not wipe away all the hurt.

Western Carolina, from the Championship Subdivision, formerly known as I-AA, is 0-2, has been outscored 97-27 and isn't expected to test the Bulldogs, who have to wait to next week's visit to Alabama for another chance for a Southeastern Conference win.

Georgia coach Mark Richt doesn't think lack of confidence is an issue for his team. Even so, a get-well visit from Western Carolina can't hurt, especially for quarterback Matthew Stafford and an offense that was held without a touchdown in the loss to Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.

'For our defense to hold a coach like Coach Spurrier to 16 points, that's huge,' Chandler said. 'For us to kick field goals when we needed to be putting the ball in the end zone, I think our offense could have put in a little bit more than they did.'

There has been criticism this week for Stafford, who was only 19-for-44 passing for 213 yards and an interception, for offensive coordinator Mike Bobo's play-calling, and for drops by receivers Michael Moore - in the end zone - and Tony Wilson.

Even Spurrier took a parting shot when he said of Georgia: 'It wasn't like they were some big, powerful team.'

Spurrier pointed out Georgia (1-1) has lost five straight games against teams from the SEC's Eastern Division, a streak that began after the Bulldogs' win at South Carolina last season.

'Coach Spurrier and South Carolina, they beat us,' Chandler said. 'So I guess Coach Spurrier can say what he wants.'

The Catamounts (0-2) will bring an 11-game losing streak to Athens. The streak includes a 62-0 loss at Florida to end last season and a 52-6 loss to Alabama to open this season.

Western Carolina coach Kent Briggs said the loss to Alabama should have his players prepared for the setting at Sanford Stadium.

'I think it helps a lot,' Briggs said. 'Just about every player that is going to play at Georgia played at Alabama. And, many of our players that played in Tuscaloosa played last year at Florida. The environment at those places will help us this weekend.'

Briggs said he worries about his team wearing down early in the season, especially by playing Georgia.

'The physical aspect of the game can take a toll on your team,' Briggs said.

'I feel that Georgia will be the most physical team we have faced since I've been here at Western. They appear more physical on film than was Alabama.'

Richt said the Catamounts, who lost 45-21 at Eastern Kentucky last week, 'have struggled to this point. I think it's obvious to everyone that's the case.'

Even so, Richt said Georgia must 'absolutely respect everyone we play. We need to. We have to.'

Richt said he hopes to give backups significant playing time. He named offensive linemen Vince Vance, Clint Boling and Kiante Tripp and tight ends Bruce Figgins and NaDerris Ward as candidates to play. Figgins started the season-opener and caught a touchdown pass against Oklahoma State when Chandler was out.

Richt may start redshirt freshman safety Reshad Jones if Kelin Johnson is limited by sore ribs.

There could be one or more changes at linebacker, where redshirt freshmen Akeem Dent and Darryle Gamble are competing for more playing time and true freshman Rennie Curran already is playing.

Georgia has started Dannell Ellerbe at middle linebacker and Brandon Miller and Darius Dewberry as the outside linebackers. Ellerbe leads the team with 14 tackles.

Miller moved from the middle during preseason drills and has seven stops in two games.

SideBar: WESTERN CAROLINA AT GEORGIA

When: Today, 1 p.m.

Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens

Radio: 750-AM