Spring practice for defending champs

Published: Saturday, March 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 28, 2003 at 11:00 p.m.

ATHENS, Ga. - Party's over.

After winning its first Southeastern Conference championship in 20 years, Georgia gets back to work today with the start of spring practice.

The Bulldogs sustained some key losses, including all five starting offensive linemen, all three first-string linebackers and 1,000-yard rusher Musa Smith.

``The celebration part, that's over,'' coach Mark Richt said. ``It's the beginning of next season. We're all concentrating on the task at hand right now.''

He already has talked with the up-and-coming seniors, reminding them of the task at hand.

``They've got quite a challenge in front of them trying to follow the success of last year's seniors,'' Richt said. ``The expectations are a little higher.''

Georgia went 13-1 last season, winning its first SEC championship since 1982 and defeating Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.

The Bulldogs knew they would have a rebuilding job on the offensive line, where all five starters - including All-SEC tackle Jon Stinchcomb - were seniors.

The losses mounted shortly after the Bulldogs got back from New Orleans. Smith, defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan and linebacker Chris Clemons gave up their final season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

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