‘Unfinished Business’ to Return to SEC Championship Game and Win Championship

ATHENS — Georgia offensive lineman Warren Ericson and his Bulldog teammates didn’t need reminders about what happened in the SEC championship game last December.

It turns out the national champions CFP were already using the 41-24 loss to Alabama as motivation.

“We want to win the SEC, because we didn’t get there,” Ericson said last week as the Bulldogs opened spring training. “We have unfinished business with regards to the return.”

2018: Alabama 35, Georgia 28

2019: LSU 37, Georgia 10

2020: Alabama 52, Florida 46

2021: Alabama 41, Georgia 24

The Bulldogs are using their losses from the SEC Championship Game as fuel to keep a solid edge even as fans celebrate the CFP Championship and signage is all over campus and at football facilities.

Seventh-year UGA coach Kirby Smart, meanwhile, has made it clear to the media — and surely his players — that the team mentality cannot and does not include any sort of ‘defender’ element. .

The 2022 squad does indeed feature many new faces, with half of Georgia’s 33-18 CFP Championship Game roster incumbents no longer on the schedule.

WATCH: Kirby Smart emphasizes competitor, not defender, mindset

Smart likley relished Alabama defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis, reminding everyone at the Senior Bowl that the Crimson Tide — not the national champion Georgia Bulldogs — won the SEC championship game.

“I have a lot of respect for those [Georgia] guys, we failed,” Mathis said at the annual All-Star Game in Mobile, Ala. “But we will remind you all that we still run the SEC, just to let it be known.

RELATED: Alabama Defenseman Earns Tide’s 41-24 Win Over Georgia in SEC Title Game

Coaches are still looking for motivation, as the former Georgia offensive line coach and current Arkansas head coach joked about generating bulletin board material.

“If no one speaks ill of us,” Pittman said, “we’ll just make it up.”

While no one necessarily speaks ill of Georgia football, the team is focused on improving their game after losing what will be a record number of players in the NFL Draft – 15 outgoing UGA players have grades NFL Draft.

Ericson, one of three returning starters on the offensive line along with Warren McClendon and Sedrick Van Pran, said focus hasn’t been an issue.

“Once our winter workouts started, we had to flip a switch,” Ericson said, giving credit to Scott Sinclair’s strength and conditioning staff. “I think everyone did a really good job buying.

“The advantage of being in Georgia is that you have high level individual players who constantly want to win and get back to the top.”

There are so many of these great players that Ericson is among those who will fight to keep his starting position at offensive guard.

That won’t bother the red-shirted senior from North Gwinnett High School, though.

“It comes every spring,” said Ericson, a 6-foot-4, 305-pounder who can also play center. “Spring is about competing and improving, especially with a new (position) coach.”

Ericson said new offensive line coach Stacy Searels has emphasized the more physical elements of the game up front, and there are new voices of leadership holding each other accountable with team captain Jamaree Salyer leading the way. to the NFL.

“I would say Warren McClendon has also come forward, he’ll always say something if he sees something he doesn’t like,” Ericson said. “Sedrick really played that role as well.

“Everyone has locked themselves into the mentality that we have to get back to work to get back to where we were. We have to do everything we did before and more.”

The Bulldogs completed their third spring training on Saturday and will return to practice next Tuesday.

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