ATHENS, Ga. — Though no longer regarded as the premier road warrior in college football, Georgia coach Mark Richt still enjoys taking his team on trips.
The Bulldogs, who opened this season against Boise State in Atlanta before playing the past two weeks in Sanford Stadium, will travel to Ole Miss this Saturday. Richt won 30 of his first 34 road games -- an astounding 88.2 percent rate -- but is 4-6 in his last 10 and went 1-4 last season.
Georgia is 11-13 in neutral-site games under Richt, a 2-8 mark against Florida in Jacksonville being the main negative in that tally.
"I do enjoy road games," Richt said Tuesday. "You get your 70 guys and you go on a business trip. There are not a lot of things that you have to do other than go and play the ballgame. There aren't any other responsibilities I have personally or that the players have or that the assistant coaches might have, so it is nice just to gather up the team, gather up the troops and get busy."
The Bulldogs lost their first three road games a year ago -- at South Carolina, Mississippi State and Colorado -- but are expected to start strong this year against the struggling Rebels. Richt is 4-0 against Ole Miss, the only SEC school yet to defeat one of his teams.
Georgia practiced on its field turf Tuesday and will again today in preparation for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and the Bulldogs are scheduled to practice Thursday inside Sanford with crowd noise pumped in. Vaught-Hemingway is among the three smallest SEC on-campus venues with a capacity of 60,580, and it may not be full Saturday after the Rebels lost 30-7 last week at Vanderbilt.
Richt won his first nine road games before losing in 2003 at LSU, which won that season's BCS championship. He then reeled off six more road victories before losing in 2004 at Auburn, which went 13-0 that season.
"Our quarterbacks historically really handled the pressure of the communication in those loud stadiums," Richt said. "If some little thing goes wrong for Georgia, it gets accentuated by the crowd reaction, but our quarterbacks have always had nerves of steel and handled that kind of pressure really well."
David Greene, D.J. Shockley and Matthew Stafford were involved in 30 of Richt's 34 career road wins, but current quarterback Aaron Murray is in his second season and seeks his second road victory.
"We just need to play the way we've been playing the last two weeks," Murray said. "We've been playing aggressively, and we just need to execute, which is what we didn't do in that first game."
Bulldogs players prefer to play at home, though they have lost at least once annually in Sanford since stumbling 19-14 against Tennessee in 2004. There is some travel involved when Georgia plays at home, because the team buses to Helen the night before.
The focus can be better on the road, players admitted, and there is often more room to roam on the sideline.
"When it's a nonconference game at home, you can have 110 guys dressed on the field or something like that," inside linebacker Michael Gilliard said. "There are only 11 guys on the field, so it's hard to control the rest of those guys."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...