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UGA NOTEBOOK: Bulldogs tuning up for Georgia Southern's challenging offense

Georgia tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith (80) celebrates with tailback Ken Malcome (24), fullback Alexander Ogletree (46) and other teammates after Georgia defeated Auburn 38-0 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Auburn, Ala.  (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Georgia tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith (80) celebrates with tailback Ken Malcome (24), fullback Alexander Ogletree (46) and other teammates after Georgia defeated Auburn 38-0 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Georgia has already wrapped up its second straight SEC East division championship.

But the Bulldogs (9-1, 7-1 in the SEC) have bigger goals, including a potential trip to the BCS title game. To do that, Georgia must first get by Georgia Southern in the first of back-to-back home non-conference games.

Georgia will need to deal with Georgia's Southern's unique triple-option offense, which is capable of generating big plays on the ground. Georgia Southern (8-2) comes into the game Georgia averaging 401.2 yards rushing and 37.6 points per game.

"We normally play them about every four years," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "That's been the routine. Every time they show up, I kind of wish we didn't set it up.

"They're just a very good football team, one that causes all kinds of problems for us, especially defensively to try to defend their running game and their offensive team."

Georgia will spend the week in practice trying to stay disciplined in its gap assignments in an effort to prepare for the unorthodox run-first offense.

It also will serve as a good first exam of Georgia's defense before its season finale against rival Georgia Tech. Like Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech runs a triple-option offense.

"It's a good thing the way this works out," Georgia linebacker and Greater Atlanta Christian product Christian Robinson said. "It gives us an opportunity to work on the same thing for two weeks in a row. A big thing for this week is that we're going to have to knock them back and then stay on your feet and make plays."

Notes and quotes

-- Georgia coach Mark Richt said he thinks freshman kicker Marshall Morgan and freshman punter Collin Barber are beginning to feel more comfortable. Barber is averaging 41 yards per punt, with 14 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Morgan is 7-for-10 on field goals and 42-46 on extra points. "It's not easy to be true freshmen and get thrown into those roles," Richt said.

-- In a change from routine, coach Mark Richt had his team practiced in full pads on Monday to prepare for Georgia Southern's triple-option offense. "I heard rumors throughout the day from the guys that we might be doing that, just because of teams like (Georgia) Tech that run this kind of offense," freshman OL John Theus said. "So I was hoping it wasn't true, but it was true." Georgia Southern rushed for 302 yards earlier in the season in its 45-21 loss to Alabama.

Scouting the offense

Georgia's offensive line has gone from a projected weakness heading into the season to a strength. The line is opening holes in the running game and adequately protecting starting QB Aaron Murray. The result has been excellent balance on offense. Georgia is averaging 199.7 yards rushing per game on 5.1 yards per carry. In the passing game, Georgia is averaging 271.4 yards per game on 14.8 yards per completion.

Scouting the defense

Georgia's defense has come around since its lackluster effort in a 29-24 win over Kentucky. In Georgia's last three games, the Bulldogs have allowed only 19 points. Georgia ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring defense at 18.8 points per game and sixth in total defense at 331 yards per game. Georgia has been able to maintain a steady pass rush this season with 24 sacks.

Keys to the game

Georgia will need sound tackling and disciplined play against a Georgia Southern team capable of scoring in bunches. Fortunately, Georgia has strength inside at linebacker inside with Alec Ogletree, Amarlo Herrera, Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard rotating at two spots. S Shawn Williams and S Bacarri Rambo also will need to creep up in run support. Offensively, Georgia should be able to take some shots downfield against a Georgia Southern defense that ranks fifth in the Southern Conference in pass defense at 182.4 yards per game.

Roster report

-- RG Chris Burnette is questionable for Georgia Southern because of a left shoulder injury.

-- LB Chase Vasser is questionable for Georgia Southern because of a left shoulder injury.