Georgia shows signs of life (for those still paying attention)

Tavarres King's second touchdown catch made it 35-0 in second quarter, and rout was on.

Tavarres King's second touchdown catch made the score 35-0, and the rout was on. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – It’s best to not get lost in the blur of “what-ifs.”

What if the first opponent was 1-AA roadkill and not a ranked team? What if Georgia had a week to work out flaws before playing Boise State? Or an easy game to prep for South Carolina? Then would they be leading the SEC East today? What if Marcus Lattimore had suddenly declared before last week’s game, “On second thought, I’m going to save my legs for equestrian. Away with you, Mr. Spurrier”?

It’s just not worth it.

Georgia dug a deep hole, and it’s going to be a while before anybody will be able to see light again. The hole didn’t get any deeper Saturday. But otherwise, we saw what we already knew: The Bulldogs are physically superior to Coastal Carolina. They rule over all Chanticleers. Say it loud, say it proud. They led 21-0 after roughly 17 seconds and 38-0 one series into the second half, when all starters headed for Barcaloungers.

They won 59-0. If they can do this to Coastal Carolina, imagine what they could do to Liberty, and Presbyterian, and Stony Brook. Big South: You are the gum under the SEC’s shoe.

“All right. We got a victory,” coach Mark Richt said.

It was the first time Richt he could use those words in a postgame news conference in nine and a half months.

Georgia had not won a game since beating Georgia Tech on Nov. 27. Since then, Athens had witnessed various forms of suffering, anguish and humiliation: A lifeless defeat to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl. A body slam by Boise State in the season opener. A woulda-coulda-shoulda loss to South Carolina.

“This probably won’t turn a lot of people’s heads,” quarterback Aaron Murray admitted.

But a win was needed for some kind of cleansing. Or exorcism. The Dogs just aren’t feeling the love these days, and they know it will take a long series of victories — or at least one in Florida — before they feel it again.

Even one of the team’s cheerleaders could be overheard as the final seconds ticked down, “Yay! We’re 1-2!” the words dripping with sarcasm.

The good? There is a pulse after an 0-2 start. A 59-0 win takes a certain level of effort and pride, even if the marquee reads: Godzilla vs. Bambi. It was the Dogs’ most lopsided victory since a 70-6 win over Northeast Louisiana in 1994. Richt can only hope it’s a greater launching pad than it was for Ray Goff 17 years ago.

But some of the negative vibes around the program also were reaffirmed. There were about 10,000 empty seats in Sanford Stadium at kickoff. Attendance (tickets distributed) was announced as 91,946, which is the first non-sellout (by 800) in the Mark Richt era. Georgia had sold out 64 straight. The last non-sellout came in Jim Donnan’s final game against Georgia Tech in 200.

We can quibble about how close the number was to listed capacity. But bottom line: When the most popular sports property in the state fails to sell out for the first time in 11 years, it’s significant.

So it was a little surprising when Richt said, “I don’t think it’s a big deal. It was just about taking care of business.”

For players, that last part is true. But externally, confidence will build again only if Georgia can string together wins over the next four weeks: at Mississippi, Mississippi State, at Tennessee and Vanderbilt. It would create some momentum going into the Florida game.

“Our goal is to go 10-0, and that started today,” Murray said.

“I’m sure most people just view this as as somebody we should have beaten,” cornerback Brandon Boykin said. “But a game like this, just getting the shutout, gives us confidence.”

OK: What if? What if Georgia had played Coastal Carolina first?

“I wouldn’t have wanted that,” Boykin said. “I wanted to play a tough team at the beginning of the year. That game showed us what we needed to do to get ready for South Carolina. We played better last week because we had a rough time with Boise.”

In other words, this is your team. The schedule wasn’t going to change that. Now it’s about making the headache go away. We’ll know more over the next few weeks.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

556 comments Add your comment

@DanWeiner

September 17th, 2011
6:24 pm

“Georgia had lost won a game over Georgia Tech on Nov.27″

I liked hated this post.

JAWJeRDAWG

September 17th, 2011
6:27 pm

Jeff:

Enjoyed your Live-Blog this afternoon.

And yes, it WAS nice to be reminded of what a win feels like!

Today was a good confidence-builder for UGA and gave our reserves some much-needed playing time.

Good job, Georgia; players and coaches.

Go Dawgs!

Heath

September 17th, 2011
6:28 pm

Well, they showed they can still beat a high school under Richt. I was beginning to wonder. Next comes a junior college. Are they up to the task?!?

Cuz

September 17th, 2011
6:29 pm

Sorry I missed the live blog Jeff, new job kept me away.

dean

September 17th, 2011
6:33 pm

I don’t know what to say other than congrats for doing what they were expected to do.

Cuz

September 17th, 2011
6:33 pm

I agree Jeff, we will know in a few more weeks. After we crack a Nutt and win a Dawg fight, we can say we are coming down the track, again.

Bus driver

September 17th, 2011
6:33 pm

Nice to see Aaron taking it one game at a time. 10 – 0!

stendek

September 17th, 2011
6:36 pm

Hello Jeff. Here I am! A lopsided home blowout of Coastal Carolina Community College does not balance the scales for two embarrassing losses to Boise State and South Carolina. Sorry. It should be noted that the Yellow Jackets still scored more points than the Dawgs against a higher quality opponent. Just saying.

JAWJeRDAWG

September 17th, 2011
6:36 pm

Cuz

Hope all is going well with you and your family.

Whoop Tee Do

September 17th, 2011
6:38 pm

No points in the 4th by our scrubs is just darn right pathetic!

Heath

September 17th, 2011
6:39 pm

“It should be noted that the Yellow Jackets still scored more points than the Dawgs against a higher quality opponent. Just saying.”

It should also be noted that the classy coach took his foot off the gas in the 4th qtr. Just saying.

Whoop Tee Do

September 17th, 2011
6:39 pm

Looks like the dawgs can lose to Vandy too.

Gotta have those style points

September 17th, 2011
6:40 pm

Richt aint no Saban or a Meyer.

5150 UOAD

September 17th, 2011
6:40 pm

Navy is running pretty good on So Carolina & Paul Johnson learned the forward pass. the dawgs still have a long way to go.

richmondDawg

September 17th, 2011
6:43 pm

@stendek…your’e so proud of Tech’s resounding victory over a top five basketball program that you decided it was safe to leave your TideRoll persona at home today?

Rotten in Denmark

September 17th, 2011
6:53 pm

OldTimer

September 17th, 2011
6:54 pm

We beat the teams we had to beat, we beat them in the dust and heat. The would not be UGA.

UGA fan in UVA Country

September 17th, 2011
6:54 pm

A win is a win…..we needed a good confidence booster……and finally got one….now, build on it and move forward, cause it ain’t gettin’ any easier, gennelmen…..

oh robert

September 17th, 2011
6:57 pm

is this the game column?

oh robert

September 17th, 2011
6:58 pm

is chuck dowdle here?

5150 UOAD

September 17th, 2011
6:59 pm

Any DAWGS watching the So Carolina v Navy game?

Rotten in Denmark

September 17th, 2011
6:59 pm

If Pres. Adams and AD McGarity either one were President of the US back in 1941, they’d still be evaluating today whether we should retaliate for Pearl Harbor or not.

Thanks to their ostrich style of management, we missed the window of opportunity to get Muschamp as the next UGA HC. Anybody notice what a job his team is doing in his FIRST YEAR?

But no, we’d rather live in the state of denial, with McGarity as the governor, and continue to waste time waiting on hope and feel good to actually change things. News flash – HOPE has proven not to work for the Washington DC wingnuts, and it won’t work for the Red & Black either.

Sorry, but I don’t feel better because I just beat down a middle school. I expect a better class of football program from the State’s flagship university. Guess Adams does not agree.

oh robert

September 17th, 2011
6:59 pm

UGA fan, it COULDN’T get any easier, could it? we beat up on a women’s school.

stendek

September 17th, 2011
7:00 pm

Hi detractors. The Yellow Jackets also let up in fourth quarter! Fair is fair. I love Dawgs but see us going nowhere under Mark Wretch! Yellow Jackets are well coached. Not Dawgs! Did anybody ever wake up Russ? Just saying.

5150 UOAD

September 17th, 2011
7:01 pm

FLORIDA looks like the TEAM in the EAST. UGA has an EZ schedule to take the EAST. Beat Florida and the Gators beat So Carolina UGA has a shot.

oh robert

September 17th, 2011
7:02 pm

Navy staying with SC doesn’t show how bad they are, it shows how bad we are. and please stop with the “if we had this guy or that guy”. we don’t. we have a mediocre team and mid pack coaching and a fan base that buys the local media’s hype.

Columbus

September 17th, 2011
7:03 pm

The ONLY people not showing any LOVE to UGA can just keep quiet the rest of the year as we have a winning season. Dont listen to Dooley, he only knows more than all of you put together. Dont listen to Adams, keep putting them down. It dont matter what NEGATIVE articles Schultz or Bradley or Bleacher Report write based on the YOUNG VOCAL INTERNET HAPPY MINORITY, who do not represent the MAJORITY of UGA fans. Richt will be at UGA for MANY YEARS to come just as Dooley told all of you this week.

The MAJORITY of UGA fans are being neglected by the media as they cater to young and dumb on the internet 24-7 and under 30 segment. HMMMM. There you have it, AJC WANTS younger readers at the expense of the truth.

Wretched is as Wretched does

September 17th, 2011
7:04 pm

Get used to the empty seats as Mark Wretched plays out his swansong season.

Bye, bye, Coach Wretched. Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.

Tom G

September 17th, 2011
7:05 pm

Stendek – great observation by you about GT and UGA opponents! Now let’s see, GT’s two games were those tremendous football powers – Western Carolina and Middle Tenn State. How does that compare with Boise and South Carolina? Also Coach Richt does not care to run up scores on teams, I agree with that. Put the game away and allow other players that normally do not play to see some game action. Those players will remember that for the rest of their lives when they have to enter the real world of making a living!

peacock

September 17th, 2011
7:07 pm

Tom G, he doesn’t care to run up scores? why not just kick a fg and call it a day today?

peacock

September 17th, 2011
7:08 pm

Columbus

September 17th, 2011
7:08 pm

We WILL know more in a few weeks. What we will know is how WRONG the cry-babies who DONR KNOW JACK have been and how they media is clueless for jumping on the bandwagon they young and dumb are driving!

Just keep beating the dead horse in the mean time. Instead of listening to ANYTHING Dooley or Adams said. You all know so much more. Media keep kissing th baby butts.

Idiots ALL……

Planetary Orbits

September 17th, 2011
7:10 pm

Who won the halftime peeing contest between Russ and Israel Troupe?

5150 UOAD

September 17th, 2011
7:10 pm

Tom G
Is So Carolina all that? That is still to be seen.
The teams and Rankings will mean something after week 5 after most of the Cupcake games are over.

peacock

September 17th, 2011
7:10 pm

Tom G, he doesn’t like to run up the score?
why not kick a fg today and pack it in?
nice

Columbus

September 17th, 2011
7:13 pm

Yall listen to Schultz?

I bet I have more wins in the pickem contest than he does. I will let you know after the weekend. We were tied after 2 weeks and I basically just picked on instinct week one without much thought.

Bradley too. Unless his ego is too big or he is too afraid to show how out of touch and incompetent he actually is by actually playing….I dunno if he is playing or not. Is he?

Athens Dawg

September 17th, 2011
7:13 pm

The haters never stop do they? Can’t stand to see UGA fans happy for a little bit. Raise your hand or reply if you DON’T think UGA will able to beat Ole Miss next week. Your lying if you think we have no shot.

5150 UOAD

September 17th, 2011
7:14 pm

TOM G
tech has played almost every player on the Team unless they are intended redshirts. He didn’t RUN UP the score. They just ran plays and some were scores.

stendek

September 17th, 2011
7:15 pm

I did not like the way the Dawgs lost to Boise State but the defeat was not totally unexpected. The loss to South Carolina at home with so much on the line was totally unacceptable. What does it mean? That even a miracle run plus the SEC title STILL leaves Dawgs with two defeats. Means SEC champion would not be invited to BCS title tilt. Comprehend? The SC debacle ended the Dawg season. PERIOD!

david

September 17th, 2011
7:15 pm

We run the table the rest of the season and win SEC East and whip LSU in SEC championship game and destroy Oaklahoma in national title game! Just wait and see. The loss to South Carolina was a fluke!

stendek

September 17th, 2011
7:17 pm

Thanks 6150. I try to be fair. Tech is 3-0 while the Dawgs of Saint Mark Wretch are 1-2. Breath of reason on here is refreshing. Best.

Columbus

September 17th, 2011
7:17 pm

The Swan song to the end of losing. I hate to tell all of you young ignorant fans but Richt will be at UGA this time next year and the next year and the next year and the next year and the next and the next and the NEXT 10! HAHA HAHA

GO RICHT! THE MAJORITY OF FANS HAVE GOT YOUR BACK! POLLS HAVE PROVEN THAT BUT THE MEDIA JUST KEEP ON TURNING THE KNIFE WITH NEGATIVITY. BEATIN THAT HORSE TO DEATH!

GO DAWGS!

Paddy

September 17th, 2011
7:19 pm

Whoope tee do…..thats why they call them scrubs!!!!!

Congrats on the win! Any win is great at this time. Now can we win the next 9? I saw maybe!!

Hillbilly D

September 17th, 2011
7:19 pm

Playing Coastal Carolina is like fighting a 10 year old kid. You know you’re going to win but you ought to feel pretty bad about it.

stendek

September 17th, 2011
7:19 pm

With two losses the SEC will not be in the title game David! Too many exceptional teams still out there still undefeated!

Columbus

September 17th, 2011
7:20 pm

GT….enjoy your wins, and you should. But….. Just like Auburn, its only a matter of time.

Rotten in Denmark

September 17th, 2011
7:22 pm

What you apparent Richt-family members fail to understand with your, “We love you, CMR, no matter how lousy a job you do” mentality is that you are helping perpetuate our problems.

We bashers are not haters. Just the opposite, we are fans who happen to care enough TO OBJECT (!!!) when we see the program being systematically destroyed over the last several years.

Do we expect a perfect season every year? Of course not, we’re rational people. But when those running the program continue to act, talk, and walk like there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way we presently are, and that the biggest thing we have to worry about is whether or not we win the ESPN fashion show review, then it becomes obvious to anyone with enough intellect to tie their own shoes that this program is under the control of people who either don’t see it, or don’t care, and either is unforgivable.

If your child is seriously ill, do you just sit there and watch them deteriorate? If the Dr. says “I don’t see anything that needs to be worked on” while the child’s vital signs are plummeting, wouldn’t you take that as a hint that maybe your Dr. is incompetent?

How more clearer do we have to draw the picture to get your attention? Would it help if we drew it in crayon?

Columbus

September 17th, 2011
7:24 pm

Go Georgia Bullsdogs. Win or lose. Im with you through thick and thin and behind Richt. Thanks for the Q & A with Dooley this week. FINALLY some fairness and from a GREAT SOURCE with all his knowledge and wisdom, which in turn creates a MUCH BETTER PERSPECTIVE ON THE STATE OF THE UGA FOOTBALL PROGRAM. You igmos think you are so smart. LOL. Richt will be our coach this time 5 years from now and we will have won the SEC again by then. Thats a fact jack. How do I know? Because I have been watching UGA and football longer than most of have been ALIVE. You younguns dont know jack squat!

5150 UOAD

September 17th, 2011
7:25 pm

Just like Auburn, its only a matter of time.

Are you a MORON?
Auburn lost for the first time since 2009…and until today Uga hadn’t beat a team with a wining record since 2009……….

Delbert D.

September 17th, 2011
7:30 pm

S. Carolina – 17 Navy 14 at the half