By The Associated Press
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Mark Richt says he enjoys football “business trips.”
That’s good, because it’s time for his Georgia team to hit the road, where it hasn’t had recent success.
Georgia (1-2 overall, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) plays at Mississippi on Saturday to begin a stretch of five straight SEC games. Four of the five will be played away from Athens.
“I do enjoy road games,” Richt said Tuesday. “You get your 70 guys and you go on a business trip and there aren’t a lot of things you have to do other than go and play the ballgame.
“So it is nice just to gather up the team, gather up the troops and get busy.”
The Bulldogs’ only remaining home before November is next week against Mississippi State. After games at Tennessee and at Vanderbilt, Georgia has an open week before its neutral site game against Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 29.
Richt says Georgia, which lost its SEC opener to South Carolina, must beat Ole Miss to remain in the Eastern Division race.
“There’s a sense of urgency in that if we want to stay in this Eastern Division race, we’ve got to win, that’s just the way it is,” Richt said. “It’s a mathematical equation now.”
Senior punter Drew Butler said team leaders already have made sure all the players can’t be thinking about the difficult challenge of winning five straight conference games. He said the focus must remain on this week’s game in Oxford, Miss.
“I think that makes it almost easier for us to take it one game at a time, because we’re not going to win five games in a row if we don’t win the first one,” Butler said. “We all understand that and I think the leadership of this team has put that in front of the team and I think the team has accepted that.
“It all starts this week in Oxford and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re not thinking about what we did last week and we’re not worried about what’s ahead. Nothing can happen without a good start in Oxford.”
Richt’s 34-10 record in an opponent’s home stadium was better before last season, when Georgia’s only road win was at Kentucky.
Since beating Texas A&M in the 2009 Independence Bowl, Georgia is only 1-7 in games played away from Athens. That stretch includes a Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida last year and a loss to Boise State in the Georgia Dome to open this season.
Richt said Georgia had strong road success before last season because quarterbacks David Greene, D.J. Shockley and Eric Zeier “really handled the pressure of the communication in those loud stadiums.”
Richt said the quarterbacks also stayed calm “if some little thing goes wrong.”
“Our quarterbacks have always had nerves of steel,” Richt said. “They handled all that type of pressure really well.”
Richt said Georgia will practice in Sanford Stadium on Thursday, with simulated crowd noise blaring through speakers. The practice will be designed to help sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs practice the signals they will use in their first true road game of the season.
“Our guys have done a great job of learning the signals and communicating the signals, so I feel comfortable they’ll know what’s going on,” Murray said Tuesday.
“I don’t have to yell to them. It’s just going to be working on that more this week, especially with the younger guys who don’t know what it’s like to be in that kind of environment.”
The atmosphere at Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1) could be affected by the Rebels’ 30-7 loss at Vanderbilt last week. Like Richt, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is facing pressure from impatient fans.
Mississippi athletic director Pete Boone said Monday he met with Nutt on Sunday.
Richt managed a smile and said he wasn’t offended by the game being called the “Hot Seat Bowl.”
“I knew that would happen,” Richt said. “No. That was pretty easy to predict. You think they could have thought of something better than that. I think a couple of kindergarteners could have figured out that one.”
NOTES: S Jakar Hamilton, who played in all 13 games last season, announced on his Twitter account he is transferring for his final season. Hamilton will miss the rest of this season with a broken ankle. Georgia confirmed Hamilton’s decision to leave “for personal reasons.” He made five starts in 2010 and had one interception. … TE Aron White is one of 11 FBS players named to the Good Works Team, administered by the American Football Coaches Association. The honor recognizes players who work to make a difference in their communities.