Georgia proves only it also can lose a close game to Florida

Aaron Murray led a comeback but had too many mistakes in his first Florida game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Aaron Murray led rally but had too many mistakes in his first Florida game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

JACKSONVILLE — It wasn’t humiliating. Is that better? After two mostly miserable decades in this rivalry and consecutive dismemberings of 49-10 and 41-17, should it feel better to know Georgia walked off the field and could have won?

“No — it’s a loss,” Akeem Dent said.

“An L is an L,” A.J. Green said.

“This kind of hurt more,” Washaun Ealey said.

Georgia came close Saturday. That shouldn’t be the objective.

Maybe comebacks say something about a team’s character. Maybe the Bulldogs grew up a little in the second half. Maybe the quarterback won’t have early-game jitters next time. Maybe one year again, they’ll actually beat Florida.

But this program should not be about gauging the degree of severity of losses.

They lost in overtime 34-31. They showed remarkable resolve by rallying from a 21-7 halftime deficit to tie it twice, the last time at 31-31 with 4:36 left in regulation. That’s certainly more resiliency and substance that the past two Georgia teams showed in Jacksonville.

A.J. Green's 15-yard touchdown catch with 4:36 left sent the game into overtime.

A.J. Green's 15-yard touchdown sent the game into overtime.

But here’s the reality check. This is not a great Florida team. It entered with its worst regular-season losing streak in 22 years. This is certainly the worst team Urban Meyer ever has fielded. It’s so bad that a 4-4 Georgia team on the wrong end of a lopsided rivalry was favored.

The Dogs lost anyway. That makes 18 in the past 21 years.

“I really don’t look at it like that,” said athletic director Greg McGarity. “College players have a two- or three-year window. They weren’t here the whole time.”

He is right about that. The real problem is that the one-year view is no better.

At 3-4 in the SEC, they are dead in the conference race.

At 4-5 overall, they are clinging only to mathematical possibilities for a lower-tier bowl.

The Liberty Bowl never should be the objective.

Green has been through three of these Florida games now. He probably won’t go through a fourth. The NFL calls. But it will take some time to forget this one.

“I swear I thought we were going to win this,” he said.

The loss dropped Georgia to 4-5 and Mark Richt to 2-8 against Florida.

The loss dropped Georgia to 4-5 and Mark Richt to 2-8 against Florida. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The comeback started with a field goal in the third quarter, making it 21-10. The Georgia scored touchdowns on its next three possessions. Murray, after completing only 5 of 14 passes with two interceptions in the first half, went 13-for-21 with two touchdowns in the second.

And we wondered: “Where did this team come from?”

“We were clicking on all cylinders,” Green said. “We had the momentum.”

Trailing 31-24, Murray drove the Dogs from midfield with under seven minutes left. On third-and-goal from the 15, he found Green in the middle of the end zone to tie the score. The teams went to overtime.

One more Murray mistake decided it. He tried to hit Green in the corner of the end zone, but the pass was tipped by linebacker Jelani Jones and intercepted at the 11 by safety Will Hill. (He nearly returned it for a touchdown but was pushed out of bounds at the 4-yard line by Tavarres King.)

Murray on the interception: “I’ve just got to learn from it. I wish I could take that throw back.”

The Gators got the ball back and ran three plays before Chas Henry’s game-winning 37-yard field goal.

Green, as a member of the field-goal block team, had a close-up view.

“I felt like I was going to block it,” he said. “It was real close.”

How close?

“I could feel the wind from the ball. Then I turned around and thought, ‘Dang.’ I was hoping a bird would fly down and knock it down.”

That just doesn’t happen in this rivalry. Things go wrong. Meyer justifiably gets torched for deciding to bring “Time To Die” guy, Chris Rainey back from suspension for this game.

What happens? Rainey scores the game’s first touchdown on a 20-yard run.

But this was less about Rainey than it was about Georgia. The Dogs are better than they were at 1-4. But not a lot.  Beating Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky doesn’t prove a lot. Nor does losing close. It just makes for a little more pain and a little less humiliation.

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

1,166 comments Add your comment

Fitten

October 30th, 2010
9:52 pm

EVERY YEAR we have stupid turnovers
EVERY YEAR we come out flat
EVERY YEAR we don’t look mentally ready to play

THE CONSTANT

EVERY YEAR we are stuck with Coach Mark Richt

please put him out our misery & fire him

Dr. Phil

October 30th, 2010
9:54 pm

Nobody should blame Murray. He is a tough kid and a competitor. Georgia needs to change direction, at the very top, with Adams, and with the kind of players the University recruits. Richt probably can’t do that. He is too much in the role of Bobby Bowden. There needs to be a major housecleaning and a change of focus.

tt

October 30th, 2010
9:54 pm

that hurt..bad

Musically Challeneged

October 30th, 2010
9:56 pm

Absolutely Fitten, I’m with you. Georgia ALWAYS beat Florida before Richt got to Athens.

David

October 30th, 2010
9:56 pm

Fitten -

You stupid SOB, this has been a problem long before Coach Mark Richt. Go back to your tree stand.

northgajacket

October 30th, 2010
9:56 pm

Florida is to UGA like UGA is to Tech. It stinks when you can’t seem to win consistently against them. Come on UGA, fire Richt and bring back Donnan.

J Clay

October 30th, 2010
9:57 pm

I’m honestly sick to my stomach after watching that….We also fall on either fumble from Florida and likelyh win…..but something always goes wrong….By the way, knowing they have a subpar kicker and that 3 is still greater than 0 – I really wish we would run on 3rd down and take the FG…oh well, smae story never ends….moral victories stink

archangeladidas

October 30th, 2010
9:57 pm

All week long, Urban Crier this, Urban Crier that. Now let me guess uga fans…all week long fire CMR. Losers! GO GATORS!!!

GR82BAG8R

October 30th, 2010
9:57 pm

Georgia will go 7 – 5 this year. After starting 1 – 4, that is not too bad.

J Clay

October 30th, 2010
9:58 pm

Don’t blame Murray? Are you kidding me? I’m sure he will bounce back but we saw Joe Cox reincarnate tonight

Good Game, Folks

October 30th, 2010
9:59 pm

Dawgs played their hearts out, just came up a bit short. Too many mistakes. Definitely the two weeks Flerda had to prepare made a difference, who woulda thunk to use the TE as a QB in the wildcat. Gameplan kept Georgia off balance all game.

Cedrick (Arlington, TX)

October 30th, 2010
10:00 pm

I am so sick and tired of losing to FLORIDA that I am almost ready to become a Gator (NOT!)……. I want to know why CMR decided to sit on the ball at the end of the 4th Qtr instead of keeping this hot offense hot??? Why were we not playing to win but to make it to overtime??? How long are we gonna have to put up with BOBO calling a draw play on 2nd or 3rd and long??

Fitten

October 30th, 2010
10:00 pm

We’ve looked prepared to play Florida exactly once under Richt– we won that one.

They are different players but making same mistakes & turnovers. That’s on Richt.

Stafford threw dumb picks… Murray throws dumb picks.
Moreno fumbled as does Ealey as does Caleb King.

Georgia defenders don’t fall on fumbles … Instead try to pick them up.

Richt apologists– when does the buck stop at the head coach?!?!

RAMBLE ON!!!

October 30th, 2010
10:00 pm

Lou Holtz aka the spitting cobra

October 30th, 2010
10:00 pm

Congrats to Florida for beating a team that turned the ball over 4 times and lost to Colorado. Guess what Gators- you still suck!

Josh Turnbull

October 30th, 2010
10:00 pm

3 times we have beaten this program, now going into the THIRD F-ing decade? This is miserable, deplorable, unacceptable! What an absolute embarrassment for what USED to be such a proud program! We are thugs, can’t play football (our only true sport), and can’t beat Florida, ever! Go look to Stanford University for a true, first-class INstitution! Georgia is in the gutter!

maybe next year

October 30th, 2010
10:00 pm

If UGA can’t beat the worst UF team in decades then I don’t know when it’ll happen. Face it, as long as Meyer is at UF, UGA won’t sniff the SECCG.

Get a Life, Y'all

October 30th, 2010
10:01 pm

Fitten — I don’t believe I saw you playing today. Adults shouldn’t be using “we” when it comes to college football games. It’s disappointing we lost, but it’s a game. If you saw the first quarter, it sure didn’t look like UGA came out flat. And I’m pretty sure the players don’t try to turn the ball over. How a fan can judge whether a team is mentally ready to play is beyond me — though maybe it’s time to replace Coach Richt with one of the know-it-all fans and see if that works.

Coach

October 30th, 2010
10:01 pm

We have some big decisions to make at the end of this season because we have to determine if we are content winning enough games to be considered a decent team or do we want to start competing for championships. I think Coach Richt is a good man and he has kept our football program respectful but we are no longer considered one of the better SEC Team, and not to mention a National Power. We must decide what type of Football Program we want at UGA.

Ree Roe

October 30th, 2010
10:01 pm

Well said Jeff. Tough tough loss. Heartbreaking to watch us lose in OT like that after we fought back in the second half. 7-5 here we come :-/

-REEd eyed Roe!

Lou Holtz aka the spitting cobra

October 30th, 2010
10:01 pm

Ramble On- yea, almost as bad as losing to Clemson.

private plane watching

October 30th, 2010
10:02 pm

4-5 (3-4)– U.G.L.Y

2 more wins and GA will be playing on Dec 17th!!!

Larvell SugarBear Blanks

October 30th, 2010
10:03 pm

Please, can anyone answer this for me??

How in the heck do you pass on Third Down in Overtime when you are looking at a straight on field goal with one of the best kickers in the country. Make the kick and you force Florida to either score a touchdown or kick a field goal to tie! If they kick the field goal and make it then you are guaranteed the ball back!!! You put the pressure on the kicker to tie the game instead of winning it! You are already ahead at this point!

I really like CMR. I don’t want to see him get fired as head coach but this stupidity has got to stop! Also, BooBoo was back at it again with some of his absolutely moronic play calling! Good grief…….

Will the bleeding every stop!!!

UGABugKiller

October 30th, 2010
10:03 pm

11 arrests THIS year.

Over 30 arrests in the last five years.

Can’t beat Florida’s worst teams (including the Zook years). Richt is 2-8 vs. Florida. UNACCEPTABLE!!!

There is NO chance this team finishes over .500 this year. We have a gimme left, then Auburn and Bugland.

Georgia is looking at 6-6 or 5-7.

EITHER one of those records combined with the stats above DEMAND that Richt be fired.

I am SICK of this s–t.

I am SICK of being embarrassed off the field because of Richt’s lack of discipline.

I am SICK of being embarrassed on the field for the same thing.

No discipline off the field = No discipline ON the field. Turnovers. Penalties. Playing out of position. Dropping passes. TRYING TO PICK UP FUMBLES INSTEAD OF JUST FALLING ON THEM!

That is ALL about a fundamental lack of discipline with this football program.

ENOUGH!!!

Mark Richt HAS to go!

10 years is enough.

Rainey

October 30th, 2010
10:04 pm

Why all the fuss about Rainey? Has Richt reacted any differently? I seem to recall that Ealey stole from another student this semester and is still on the team. I seem to recall that King hit someones vehicle, left the scene even after UGA officials told him to stay put…yet he is still on the team. Should I continue for another 11 times???? Fact is the whole SEC allows such treatment because we are all about winning. Richt certainly is up there with the worst of the coaches not one that is innocent enough to cast stones at others.

[...] Original post: Georgia proves only it also can lose a close game to Florida … [...]

Dragon

October 30th, 2010
10:06 pm

As long as Mark Richt talks about his personal relationship with Jesus – yet recruits a bunch of thugs who can’t stay out of Clarke County jail – the karma and hypocrisy out of Athens continues. If Richt was all he says, he would only coach quality kids. Alas, like bobby bowden, it’s all bluster.

Typical Mutt Fan

October 30th, 2010
10:06 pm

A GREAT GAME in the Greatest Conference Ever. Florida, with the win, now obviously better than the Pittsburgh Steelers, league officials probably trying to set the game up. Georgia must now face the fact they could probably only hang with Buffalo, although Bills would probably avoid scheduling such a tough game outside their division. It is an SEC team, after all.

the truth

October 30th, 2010
10:06 pm

UGA = UF’s little brother

Chip Kelly

October 30th, 2010
10:07 pm

If I had UGA’s playmakers I’d score 100 points a game. My best wide receiver is a slow white guy and look what I do. It’s about the coaching. Bobo sucks.

wtf?

October 30th, 2010
10:07 pm

GR82BAG8R- 7&5? You really think Georgia is going to beat Auburn? Tech?

Headley Lamar

October 30th, 2010
10:07 pm

Whats incredible is that we still have the lead all time.

Can you imagine how far we must have been ahead.

We were the better team but didnt win. Too many turnovers in the first half.

For some reason the ball always bounces wrong for us in this one.

How about two false starts on them when we had them stopped and then they end up scoring.

Top Dawg

October 30th, 2010
10:07 pm

With the recruits and everything, man we are gonna be great NEXT YEAR. We just have to get after it a little more. I can’t wait until NEXT YEAR. We are gonne be great NEXT YEAR…..

Truth is…. I don’t even recognize this program anymore.

Dennis

October 30th, 2010
10:08 pm

If that was Cox you would want him thrown out of the plane on the way home. Eleven starters back on offense and one new guy and he is the who you brag about? Murray is just an okay second stringer on most championship teams. Admit it. You were better with Cox.

Fitten

October 30th, 2010
10:08 pm

Georgia dominated in the 80s– Dooley was a much better coach than Florida’s Pell & Hall.

Florida dominates in 90s & ’00s, because Spurrier & Meyer are much better coaches than Ray Goof, Donnan & Richt.

I want our Bulldogs to have the better coach. How am I wrong?!?!?

UGA89

October 30th, 2010
10:08 pm

I’m bummed Georgia lost, but i don’t understand what the guys on the radio were saying about the team’s performance. They talked about how Georgia played well… had the better team… and outplayed Florida.

I give credit to a nice comeback and valiant effort only to fall short. But, i saw a UGA team with 3 turnovers in the first half, 4 overall… and undisciplined play in big moments. I thought CMR clock management was horrendous at the end of both half’s… and the better “t-e-a-m” won.

Football is not won on talent alone. or by the team that may make a few big plays. Games are generally won by the team that plays together, doesn’t make mistakes, capitalizes on the other teams mistakes and plays fundamentally sound. Florida did that…Georgia did not.

I found it disheartening to hear the boys on 750 misleading the listeners as to why the Dogs were trailing and ultimately lost.

Headley Lamar

October 30th, 2010
10:09 pm

A GREAT GAME in the Greatest Conference Ever. Florida, with the win, now obviously better than the Pittsburgh Steelers, league officials probably trying to set the game up. Georgia must now face the fact they could probably only hang with Buffalo, although Bills would probably avoid scheduling such a tough game outside their division. It is an SEC team, after all.

I think youve had enough.

Herndawg

October 30th, 2010
10:09 pm

I haven’t seen any comments about the big plays the defense gave up. Murray kept them in the game, give him a break, but it was the defense that didn’t make some big stops and gave up running TDs. Sure they are making hits and flying around but you gotta stop runs up the middle.

jellybeandawg

October 30th, 2010
10:09 pm

Guys come on… The team played hard this year and didn’t quit, which in itself is a MAJOR improvement over a typical Coach Valium i.e. Mark Richt led team. Normally we would get blown out by 40 points or something.

I think Coach Valium really coached em up this weak.

Little brother

October 30th, 2010
10:10 pm

the truth- UF is the flagship University for the most populous state in the SEC by a huge margin- the fact that they don’t win the SEC every year is a black eye to the Gators. Losing to Mississippi State is inexcusable for a University with the resources of Florida. Do you realize all the advantages they have over every school they play?

tc

October 30th, 2010
10:10 pm

horrible coaching! look at the play calling in over time, all we needed was a first down. Why can’t we run the ball. Mcgarity please fire Mark Richt NOW!!!

Gatorman

October 30th, 2010
10:10 pm

No gloating, as I take no solace with the Gators winning the game. Neither one of those teams are very good, so it looks like Meyer looks like he can’t recruit like Zook, and with Zook’s players gone, maybe he will be to eventually. Not good, not good at all.

Dog Island Gator

October 30th, 2010
10:11 pm

This realy feels good. With all the problems with Fl’s offence they find a way to win…again. This was always goning to be a difficult year for the Gators losing 11 players to the NFL. But next year is when all these freshmen and sophomores that are playing now are going to gel into a moster of a team. Watch out Nick, Gene and Less. Oh, we’will see you in Jax in another 365 days. Ta,ta.

Mikey

October 30th, 2010
10:11 pm

Sucks to lose to these guys again. That said, I will move on and continue to live my life. I will always love UGA football but come on guys, the sun will shine tomorrow.

Die Hard

October 30th, 2010
10:11 pm

Spurrier said it best a few years back: “Georgia will never, ever, beat Florida again”……
The SEC East is a joke.

nadlickerdawg

October 30th, 2010
10:11 pm

does this mean we cant win the national title now?

guess ill have to be ok with winning the recruiting national championship and the preseason national championship. we will get em next year.

lmaoooooooooooooo

4-5
4-5
4-5

toooooooo funny

even st simons dont want this sorry ass’ed team and their fans anywhere near their city.

Lonely Truth-teller

October 30th, 2010
10:11 pm

This game reminds me of two movies: The Longest Yard & Groundhog Day.

Headley Lamar

October 30th, 2010
10:12 pm

TRYING TO PICK UP FUMBLES INSTEAD OF JUST FALLING ON THEM!

You know eveybody says that. Right up until the guy picks it up and scores.

ID rather have my guy try and scoop snd score. Thats the way these guys are coached. And not just UGA

moorman

October 30th, 2010
10:12 pm

will georgia ever win another national championshp?

jtdawg

October 30th, 2010
10:13 pm

Rainy

Felony threat and intimidation is not evey close – stupid arguement