Bulldogs going full speed at Belk Bowl

Georgia coach Mark Right watches from the pit area at Charlotte Motor Speedway as players take high-speed rides with professional drivers. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Georgia coach Mark Right watches from the pit area at Charlotte Motor Speedway as players take high-speed rides with professional drivers. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It may not be a Big Six bowl or one that’s played in a warm, tropical clime, but the Belk Bowl has already given the Georgia Bulldogs some experiences they otherwise would not have had.

First of all, on Friday they got a shopping spree in a Belk store. Many of the players had never set foot in one of the North Carolina-based, retail department stores. They got $450 credit and were able to select from merchandise that had been knocked down 20 percent.

Saturday morning the Bulldogs went out to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Located 13 miles outside of Charlotte in Concord, where they were treated to 170 mph joy rides around the 1.5-mile “quad-oval” track. Players and coaches were given three-lap ride-alongs with professional drivers.

After that, it was back to business as the No. 13 Bulldogs had just two more practices — one Saturday and one Sunday — to complete their preparation for Tuesday’s matchup against No. 21 Louisville. And that whole enterprise became significantly more challenging with the departure of Mike Bobo earlier this week.

Today’s football work will be late in wrapping up. So following is some commentary and videos leftover from Friday’s activities. Check the UGA page here on AJC.com later for more stories and practice updates.

QUARTERBACK HUTSON MASON:

On Bobo leaving …

“Coach Bobo’s stock, as they say, has been kind of rising. The last four or five years, we’ve done a heckuva job statistically. We’ve been one of the best offenses in the country and this year was no different. So I think his goals and aspirations were to be a head coach one day and he took that step that was necessary.”

On any conversations he has had with Bobo …

“I called him the night it went down. I told him thanks for giving me an opportunity to play at Georgia. He said it’d been hectic. I asked him how his kids took it and we made a little small talk.”

On working with John Lilly as coordinator …

“It’s good. Lilly is a great coach. He’s quarterback friendly. His mentality and his attitude is awesome. He’s just a smart guy all the way around. As a tight ends coach, he understands protections for the run game and the pass game. I think that might be why he was the best fit. But all the coaches are kind of throwing in their opinions.”

CENTER DAVID ANDREWS:

On Georgia losing Bobo and Will Friend …

“I don’t have another season so, personally, I’m just trying to enjoy it, the whole experience. I know some guys are kind of wondering what’s going to happen. But Coach Richt’s going to get the best guy in there. As an offense, we’re running the same plays and we’re going to go out there and win this game.”

On how practices are different …

“Bobo’s voice hasn’t been heard at practice. That is different. But that’s what has made us such a good football team. We’ve been able to adjust and adapt and that’s what we’re having to do right now.”

On what Friend told the linemen when the team reconvened …

“He just explained how the whole situation happened with Coach Bobo and that he was going and the way how everything will work now. … He felt like it was the right thing to do. We understand it’s better from him and his family. It’s a business and that was the best decision for his family.”


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