Georgia enjoys a laugher and tries not to wonder, ‘What if?’

Celebration time: Carlton Thomas is mobbed after a first-quarter touchdown, igniting a 43-0 rout. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Celebration time: Carlton Thomas is mobbed after a first-quarter touchdown, igniting a 43-0 rout. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – Since Georgia is way past concerns about where it ranks in the Harris Poll, there’s little in the way of buildup for the unveiling of the first BCS standings Sunday. Certainly, there’s no reason for fans to reflect and wonder: “Will Vanderbilt’s record hurt our strength of schedule?”

But that shouldn’t matter right now. There is a pulse.

One week after thumping Tennessee 41-14, the Bulldogs boat-raced Vanderbilt 43-0 on Saturday.

That’s two wins by a combined 70 points. The only lingering depression following consecutive dismemberings stems from the fact the schedule is now exhausted of teams from the Volunteer State.

Seven weeks into the season, a 3-4 record is not what anybody in Athens had aspired to. But aesthetically, it’s far more appealing than 1-4 was — or what 1-4 seemingly projected to.

The latest win even inspired two Capital One Bowl officials to sit in on coach Mark Richt’s postgame news conference. A tad premature, perhaps.

Consecutive wins over bad teams at home don’t reveal a lot about how good a team is. But it certainly makes everybody stop guessing where the bottom is. It also says something about character.

As Richt summarized neatly: “It looks like we’re getting better. It looks like we’re playing with more passion. We’re getting some momentum.”

Next week at Kentucky will be a slightly tougher test. (The Dogs are 0-3 on the road.) The following week against Florida will be significantly tougher. (No reason to revisit inglorious history right now.)

Win those two games, and suddenly two Capital One Bowl officials won’t look so out of place. Uga VIII would be elevated to deity status.

If Georgia manages to turn this season into something special, people are going to start showing up at Uga’s doghouse, asking him to lay paws on their forehead.

The Dogs weren’t without some minor flaws Saturday. Among other things, Richt and his team burned three timeouts in the first five minutes of the game. But what followed was  mostly a performance that gave them the look of a wrecking ball. Richt was even allowed to even joke about the early management issues. When asked about officials not checking replay when a seeming touchdown pass to A.J. Green was ruled incomplete, the coach cracked he couldn’t debate it because: “I didn’t have any timeouts left.”

"Big Bad Bruce" (Uga VIII) fell asleep during the game, apparently having concluded, "My work is done here."

"Big Bad Bruce" (Uga VIII) fell asleep during the game, apparently having concluded, "My work is done here." (AP photo)

But when a defense pitches a shutout and limits an opponent to 140 yards and an offense amasses 547 yards, there’s not a lot to pick on. The offensive line blocked. The running backs ran hard, broke tackles and didn’t fumble (Washaun Ealey: 123 yards, one touchdown). Aaron Murray threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and Green didn’t even account for most of that (he was the third-leading receiver after Kris Durham and Tavarres King).

The Dogs’ only challenge will be not looking back, not asking: What happened in Columbia? And Starkville? And Boulder?

“Obviously it hurts, especially when you look at the way we’re playing now,” tackle Clint Boling said. “Where was this two or three weeks ago? But we just have to move on from it. There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

“We just have to control what we can control,” Durham said. “Just get wins. That’s all we can do and hopefully get some help along the way.”

A two-game winning streak shouldn’t inspire parades. But it represents a breakthrough. Georgia hadn’t won consecutive games all season. They hadn’t won consecutive SEC games in 13 months — September of last season over South Carolina and Arkansas. Those were the same two opponents that started the spiral this year. Before the win over Tennessee, the Dogs were 2-7 in their previous nine SEC games. Now they will go to Kentucky with a chance to balance the season record.

Forget the BCS. Right now, it’s about cleansing, winning and landing somewhere north of Shreveport.

Durham again: “We were embarrassed the way we were playing before. We’re trying to get tougher as a football team.”

They are. We’ll soon find out where it gets them.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

540 comments Add your comment

Kevin

October 16th, 2010
6:17 pm

A good solid game….Miss State and Colorado games hurt more than the Ark/SC game for sure…

Kevin

October 16th, 2010
6:19 pm

……b/c we should of most certainly won those games…..

Bryan G.

October 16th, 2010
6:28 pm

Let’s see if they keep it going in Lexington before even pondering Jacksonville.

Mark

October 16th, 2010
6:34 pm

Jeff, Why doesn’t your blog show up in a timey manner for those of us that use the iPhone application? I just got home from the game and had to pull out the laptop to get to read your thoughts.

I am second Shultz... GO DAWGS !!

October 16th, 2010
6:35 pm

Great win. hopefully we can keep it rolling !!

THE CATHOLIC HAMMER

October 16th, 2010
6:38 pm

How down is the SEC this year when the probable #8 team in the conference lost to Colorado?

BjohnDawg

October 16th, 2010
6:42 pm

Good Win. but I think this staff went to the Les Miles School of Clock MisManagement and Time Outs.

And what the heck is up with Bad Bruce. Sleeping all the time. Russ was on the job. Not catching ZZZs in the DAWGHouse.

Hey need to complain about something. On the field things were going pretty good. Of course it was Vandy.

THE CATHOLIC HAMMER

October 16th, 2010
6:43 pm

Not only did the probable #8 team in the SEC lose to Colorado, the probable #4 team was tied by Clemson!

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The Grinch

October 16th, 2010
6:46 pm

As mad at A.J Green as I am right now for torpedoing our season, I think his absence might have helped Murray develop in the long run. Forcing him to look hard for whoever’s open instead of locking down on Green has made him a better QB. I think we’ll get it together and be the team nobody wants to play in a bowl game. Unfortunately, it won’t be on New Year’s Day. Even more unfortunately, it won’t be a playoff game.

GTMustang

October 16th, 2010
6:49 pm

LOL, it was Vandy. UGA should have won this one. They should have won against Colorado and Miss St.

Please Jeff, UGA will likely lose to Auburn, Florida, and Kentucky still. Post a “what if” blog after UGA beats someone they aren’t supposed to.

Dawg H8R

October 16th, 2010
6:49 pm

What if every team was Vandy,La Lafayette,Tenn. Dawgs still stink.

Asheville Class of '72 Dawg

October 16th, 2010
6:57 pm

Jeff, I think you mean, “somewhere south of Shreveport.”

Technophobia

October 16th, 2010
6:59 pm

Wow, with 9:44 left in the 4th quarter it’s Auburn 51 – Arkansas 43. Usually don’t see that many points without OT.

kyle

October 16th, 2010
7:00 pm

Kentucky is nothing special, Florida has no offense, Auburn has no defense

paint

October 16th, 2010
7:02 pm

true, what grinch said…but vandy gave it away early. tired of having to WAIT for mid-season adjustments.

Greg

October 16th, 2010
7:05 pm

UGA will beat Tech by at least 2 touchdowns and will beat at least one of UF and Auburn. 7-5 isn’t anything to write home about…unless you start the year 1-4.

JP

October 16th, 2010
7:08 pm

Who cares…UGAY still sucks!!!

E-Bay Green

October 16th, 2010
7:09 pm

Thug Dawg fans, I am pleased to offer my Vandy game jersey as the item of the day on my website – highest bid wins!! You want it autographed? Well, subject to approval by my agent, that will cost extra!

I am also offering action on the following bet – the over/under for Ga Wins vs. Ga Arrests for the rest of the season. Check out my site.

DuluthDawg

October 16th, 2010
7:12 pm

Great game for the Dawgs today. Two back-to-back games that are encouraging. Unfortunately, the schedule gets tougher now. Kentucky will be a lot tougher than Vandy. Let’s hope we continue to improve. I think we can get Florida this year but I think Auburn is an L. HBTD!!!

Russ the Unloved Mascot

October 16th, 2010
7:12 pm

Okay, fine, force me into early retirement. Hide me away. Shun me. Just….please don’t send me to the Mike Vick Home for Dawgs.

We Drink This State

October 16th, 2010
7:13 pm

Here’s a big sip to the best 3-4 team in the land!

Ted Striker

October 16th, 2010
7:14 pm

RJ DAWG

October 16th, 2010
7:16 pm

GT Mustang,
Before you make a comment on who the Dawgs beat this season you Tech team has not beat any teams that are great.Tech played NC State and lost.

Bull

October 16th, 2010
7:17 pm

Schultz I think we all laugh at you and wonder what if you were not a sports writer

Army Vet

October 16th, 2010
7:18 pm

Good grief…UGA beat Vandy. Let the trash talking begin!

JSS

October 16th, 2010
7:29 pm

Any team that uses this and last week as a barometer is kind of crazy! Play the game as they come. Nevertheless, good teams are going to punish anyone who throws into triple coverage, uses all of their timeouts before midway point of the 2nd quarter and settles for field goals in the Red Zone… Seriously…

1eyedJack

October 16th, 2010
7:30 pm

Good win. Get ‘em next week too!

1eyedJack

October 16th, 2010
7:32 pm

My teeth hurt everytime somebody mentions Penn Wager’s name.

Vain Jangling

October 16th, 2010
7:34 pm

Kentucky should be a win, although night games there are always tough. Florida, at best, is a toss up. I was shocked to learn that Idaho State even has a football team. We play Auburn at Auburn and they just hung 65 on Arkansas, a team that beat us at home. Tech sucks in oh so many ways, as always, but that’s likely to be a toss us also. In sum, UGA wins 6, maybe 7, this year. Respectfully, that ain’t no moral victory. Goodbye Capital One, hello Shreveport.

Bill

October 16th, 2010
7:37 pm

The SEC should fire Penn Wager. He is the most corrupt official in the sec. The sec is a joke if they continue to employ that disgusting jerk.

smart dawg

October 16th, 2010
7:37 pm

@ 1eyedjack:
Both of your teeth?

DuluthDawg

October 16th, 2010
7:40 pm

Vain Jangling – unfortunately I think you are correct. With USC up at the half they are in control of the SECE, so our chances of going to the SECCG is diminished also. Of course, we can’t go to Shreveport this year; SEC is no longer affiliated with that bowl. At least it’s not the smurf turf like the techmites.

jimmymack

October 16th, 2010
7:40 pm

go dawg’s jeff i promise mever to place a bet on which side you’ll take on any sport’s issue again.

Time

October 16th, 2010
7:41 pm

Sure UGA is down this season. But only complete idiots (usually loser Tech people) thought that somehow the Dawgs were dead. Those opening losses to Ark and SC were just what I said they were at the time…losses to respectable good football teams. The next two were just by products of losing those first two and a team down on itself.

Make no mistake, the Dawgs are definitely in a down year, but it’s not like they’re as bad as Tech or something. And I’d bet my money that had the stupdity of the AJ Green saga not happened, UGA would be sitting pretty right now as a undefeated team despite it’s many current weaknesses.

todd grantham

October 16th, 2010
7:41 pm

Jeffrey, this team is still a great unknown. has the corner really been turned or were tennessee and vandy just horrible teams and another elfoldo is in the works?

poopdawg

October 16th, 2010
7:41 pm

I believe Urban Meyer’s esophagus is spasming right now.

Party school

October 16th, 2010
7:42 pm

So who got Bruce drunk last night? He slept through most of the game!

DuluthDawg

October 16th, 2010
7:44 pm

Time – let’s not get out the Kool-Aid just yet. Get through the next 3 games and we’ll see. Stating that we’d be undefeated is a bit of a stretch. AJ wasn’t as big a factor today as last week so who’s to say AJ being available in the early games would have turned those L’s to W’s. Let’s stay grounded and let the techmites look foolish.

poopdawg

October 16th, 2010
7:44 pm

Touchdown dawgs Miss st 10 UF 0.

Red Panties Rick

October 16th, 2010
7:47 pm

The best damn 3-4 team in the nation by far, it’s no accident UGA enjoys this lofty status. I have a feeling Kentucky, though, based on what I’m seeing tonight, are not going to be happy hosts for next week’s contest….

1eyedJack

October 16th, 2010
7:47 pm

@smart dawg

Yep, the upper ‘un an the lower ‘un.

Doofey!

WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!!!!!

October 16th, 2010
7:48 pm

Ok, so now will people admit that Cam Newton should be up for the Heisman?

DuluthDawg

October 16th, 2010
7:48 pm

grantham – we have yet to encounter a really good defense this year. Hopefully AM will continue to improve and be ready to lead the Dawgs against the better defenses that we will encounter. There are still some unknowns but AM continues to look great for the amount of game experience. The future looks bright!

poopdawg

October 16th, 2010
7:48 pm

Love watching a Manny Diaz coached defense.

poopdawg

October 16th, 2010
7:51 pm

Duluthdawg UF is the only team left with a good D , and yes we have faced some good D .

DawgByte

October 16th, 2010
7:51 pm

When we were at 1-4 the best we could hope for was to improve our play. We are seeing exactly that – IMPROVEMENT. Aaron Murray is playing lights out for a red shirt freshman and Grantham is doing an amazing job of taking Willie’s PUPPIES and turning them into football players.

There’s still a universe of room for improvement, but winning two in a row feels good.

(((30-24)))

uuugh....

October 16th, 2010
7:55 pm

I agree with Bill. Wagers has been horrendous for years now…he should be embarassed.

Corninmypooh

October 16th, 2010
7:55 pm

Duluth Dawg -

I understand where you’re coming from, but AJ would have made a hell of an impact during those four games.

DuluthDawg

October 16th, 2010
7:59 pm

Corninmypooh – Agreed that he would have made a difference, but I’m not sure it would have turned the L’s into W’s was my point.

poopdawg – what teams that we’ve already faced had good defense? I agree that UF will be the best D we face this year.