Goodman looks for breakout game

ATHENS – Georgia, the general consensus goes, needs a few crazy things to happen to beat Florida today.

Demiko Goodman, by his reckoning, is exactly the type of player who can do those things.

"Definitely," the redshirst freshman wide receiver said. "I'm very confident in my ability."

Goodman, who is third on the team with 12 catches for 158 yards, is expected to replace sophomore Mohamed Massaquoi in the starting lineup today against No. 9 Florida (6-1, 4-1). Georgia (6-2, 3-2) takes on the Gators at 3:30 p.m. in Jacksonville, Fla., in a game that will be televised by CBS.

The Bulldogs are a 13.5-point underdog.

"It's a tall order for us, especially the way we've been playing of late," Bulldog coach Mark Richt said.

Goodman can fill a tall order as well as any Georgia player. At 6-foot-2, he's the third-tallest Georgia receiver, but he looks even taller because, at 190 pounds, he's pencil thin.

"We're hoping we can put some muscle on him," Richt said.

If the Bulldogs continue the wide-open style they used against Mississippi State, Goodman and his track speed could be their biggest weapon today. He caught three passes for 24 yards last week and impressed his head coach.

"I could see that they weren't the easiest catches, but he made them look easy," Richt said. "He looked like a natural out there."

In the last four games, Goodman has caught more passes (10) than any Bulldog other than Massaquoi, who also has 10 catches in that span.

"The effort has always been there," wide receivers coach John Eason said. "I think he just needed to develop some confidence in himself, and he's starting to do that now. I think we have to remember that this is the first time he's had any significant playing time."

The more Goodman plays, Eason said, the more he'll be able to transfer his track speed to the football field. Goodman was one of the top amateur track athletes in the nation when he signed to play football with the Bulldogs, and he's now one of the top 400-meter runners in the Southeastern Conference. On the track, though, no one is standing in his way.

"Track you just run, but football you have to look at the DBs, look at the coverage, at the linebackers," he said. "Once you learn what to do, all the other stuff is second nature."

Eason describes Goodman as "a slow starter" and everyone from Georgia's coaches to its strength staff has worked on improving his initial takeoff.

"I think Demiko is a guy who needs a little bit of time to get up to full sped," Richt said.

"He's got some quickness. He can stride out pretty good once he gets it going. Like a lot of track guys, once they get into their stride, it's a pretty thing to watch."

One day, Goodman will get a chance to really stretch his legs on a long pass, and he'd love for it to happen today on national television, he said.

"I'm waiting for that moment when I catch the ball and can stride out," he said. "I'm ready to break out."

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