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Meyer, Florida Gators want to move past Georgia's end zone celebration

Georgia’s exuberant celebration angered Urban Meyer, but he says it has “no bearing whatsoever’’ on Saturday’s game.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Georgia’s exuberant celebration angered Urban Meyer, but he says it has “no bearing whatsoever’’ on Saturday’s game.

GAINESVILLE — Upon further review, Urban Meyer and Georgia coach Mark Richt have decided to downplay Georgia's team end zone celebration in the 2007 game, instead focusing on this week's showdown between the two perennial SEC powers.

Good luck with that.

The fact that the subject won't die — and will rise over and over this week — can be directly attributed to Meyer. In his biography, written by Buddy Martin, Meyer is quoted as saying: "That wasn't right. It was a bad deal. It will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team. We'll handle it, and it's going to be a big deal."

Sunday, the day after Florida's 63-5 victory over Kentucky, Meyer said the past should remain there, and his players echoed that sentiment with "no comment" answers about Georgia after Saturday's game.

"I think it's old news," Meyer said. "I'm sure that old guy (Meyer) warned our players about it. It has nothing, no bearing whatsoever on this year's game. It's two teams battling for the SEC East and it has no bearing whatsoever."

Richt, who spoke extensively on the subject at SEC Media Days in July, told reporters Sunday afternoon he won't allow his players to address the issue and neither will he. He directed questions about the celebration to his sports information director.

No. 5 Florida (6-1, 4-1) meets No. 8 Georgia (7-1, 4-1) Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville with, very possibly, an East championship title on the line. The winner puts itself in the driver's seat on the road to Atlanta.

Aside from the end zone celebration — the Bulldogs emptied the sideline and poured into the end zone after their first touchdown — the 42-30 loss kept the Gators out of the SEC championship Game. That, players said, is what they remember most.

"We're looking to get to Atlanta and Georgia is in the way," WR/RB Percy Harvin said. "We remember the loss last year and we're going to prepare for them real good this year."

Meyer said there will be some motivational tactics this week, but no more than any other big-game, rivalry week. If it includes anything to do with last season, apparently nobody will know but the coaches and players.

"This game will be a big deal," Meyer said. "The stomp? Let's move on."

PATCHAN EARNING PRAISE: Former Armwood High standout Matt Patchan earned his first start Saturday, the first time a true freshman has started at defensive tackle since records began being kept in 1983. Patchan was listed with just one tackle, but he and teammate Justin Trattou earned rave reviews for special-teams play.

"They are the two best players on our team as far as get-off explosiveness," Meyer said. "The first blocked punt was a direct result of what Patchan and Trattou did."

DID YOU KNOW? Florida and Georgia have the best winning records in the SEC since 1998. Georgia is 104-31 (.770) during that span; Florida is second at 99-35 (.739).

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

Meyer, Florida Gators want to move past Georgia's end zone celebration 10/26/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 26, 2008 9:17pm]
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