Win streak shows Dogs haven’t quit on season or Richt

Mark Richt is smiling a lot more since an 0-2 start this season. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Mark Richt is smiling a lot more since an 0-2 start this season. (Jason Getz/AJC)

ATHENS – Let’s put aside for a moment the acknowledged asterisk of a soft schedule, that even the head coach has been underwhelmed by some of the wins, and certainly that Steve Spurrier and Stephen Garcia have provided everybody outside of Columbia with some wonderful comic relief.

Georgia has won seven consecutive games. That’s impressive at any level.

It’s a monumental achievement for an SEC team – even in a season when the SEC East doesn’t project as SEC-like.

The first two games against Boise State and South Carolina had been projected by at least one player as “our season.” The Bulldogs lost them both. The fact those losses haven’t defined their season says something about this team.

It doesn’t mean the word “great” should be stamped on the team. Nor does it guarantee anything for the Auburn game Saturday or the final few weeks on the schedule. But when a team goes from 0-2 to 7-0,  it says something about maturity and resolve. It says the players did not quit on the season or on Mark Richt.

“The truth of the matter is, when you lose the first two games it reveals whether you have a close-knit team or not,” Richt said Tuesday. “It’s rare that you have a team that’s not unified, you lose two and then all of a sudden you get unified. When you hit adversity, then you find out what you have.”

When asked if that reaction is by chance or it’s something a coach can teach, Richt responded: “You try to build a team. You try to build togetherness. You try to build trust. But like you say, you never know for sure until it hits you in the mouth.”

The Dogs got hit. They got up. That’s improvement, even if the five SEC wins have come over teams with a combined conference record of 5-24 (Richt on the opponents: “We didn’t feel there was any team on our [remaining] schedule we couldn’t beat. There wasn’t a whole lot of ‘woe-is-me.’”)

Georgia can be SEC East champions as soon as Saturday with a win over Auburn and a South Carolina loss to Florida. They suddenly have been cast as the Great Destructors. They are 12½-point favorites over Auburn.

When is the last time the Dogs were double-digit favorites for a conference game? For that matter, how strange is it that Georgia be an overwhelming favorite to beat a ranked team — albeit Auburn is only No. 24 by the Associated Press — when it has lost five consecutive and 10 of 12 to ranked teams?

But the mood clearly has lightened in Athens. When somebody referenced the turnaround in his news conference, Richt responded: “Well, you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

He waxed philosophic about his career and his life.

“Quite frankly,  I love the game of football. I love my job. I love Georgia. But what I do is not who I am. I’ve said before that I think sometimes if we become what we do and then all of a things aren’t going just right, suddenly your world falls apart.”

He quoted scripture.

“God loves me and he’s going to take care of me. When all the games are done, and all the life is lived, I know where I’ll be for eternity. Not to say I don’t care about what happens in this world because that’s not true. Colossians 3:23 says, ‘Whatever you do, do your work heartily as unto the Lord.’ So that’s what I was doing on a daily basis.”

Most would view that as a healthy perspective. Others want him to appear more obsessed. They want smoke coming off the top of his head and sparks to fly off his words.

It doesn’t really matter which camp you’re in because it’s all about about winning. Everything else is window dressing.

Two months after that loss to South Carolina, Georgia leads the East. Richt was asked if he felt any sense of relief.

“Not really,” he said. “We’re in control of our own destiny now, so really all of this is on us.”

No, the pressure hasn’t gone away. But something is on the line this week, and things did not project that way after two games.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

230 comments Add your comment

Dr. Morpheus

November 8th, 2011
4:51 pm

Some of the fans haven’t quit, either. Go Dawgs!

Beelzebub

November 8th, 2011
4:59 pm

It was a gift. Enjoy it!

G

November 8th, 2011
5:01 pm

Good thing he didn’t read your articles killing him all year…

1eyedJack

November 8th, 2011
5:07 pm

“But something is on the line this week, and things did project that way after two games.”

Jeff, didn’t you mean didn’t?

1eyedJack

November 8th, 2011
5:08 pm

We’re gonna whup the tar outta Awbun.

tell me again

November 8th, 2011
5:08 pm

If – and it’s a big if – we win out….what will all of the naysayers have to say then?

Dawg Roll

November 8th, 2011
5:09 pm

The Dawgs are playing as good as any SEC team right now. Look for an easy win over auburn and a huge upset over lsu in the Ga Dome! Dawgs to the BCS!!!

Stephen

November 8th, 2011
5:09 pm

At 0-2, even I was saying the season was wasted. What a rare opportunity to be in contention after such a slow start.

GT Fan

November 8th, 2011
5:19 pm

Dawg Roll..

Put down the kool-aid. Quickly. Please.

UGA has taken advantage of not one ranked team. All UNRANKED. On top of that, they offenses they have played agaisnt combined for an average 100th in the nation. UGA should beat those teams, you should be concerned they haven’t beaten them more convincingly.

UGA does have the best offense, statistically, in the SEC East, albiet that’s best only the 60th best in the nation. UGA only has a pedistrian offense even with all of those weapons.

Don’t sleep on Auburn and please, LSU, even if UGA makes it, is going to blow UGA out of the water as they would any team from the SEC East.

still paying attention

November 8th, 2011
5:21 pm

glad you are still paying attention!!!!

Old Dawg

November 8th, 2011
5:22 pm

I had a feeling after the SC game that the best was around the corner for the Dawgs. The schedule was certainly set up for a run and the team has continued to improve.

Auburn is always difficult, so you never know. But this team has proven its detractors wrong more times than not. Let’s see what Grantham’s defense does with the Tigers whirly-gig offense!

headley lamar

November 8th, 2011
5:24 pm

We might lose to Auburn and we probably lose to LSU

But there is one game we wont lose.

To Georgia Tech the cupcake from the ACC.

leelee

November 8th, 2011
5:29 pm

GT FAN
Can you spell

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 8th, 2011
5:31 pm

I do so hope AU beats GA..sometimes winning to spite your opponent is better than winning for the sake of winning!

Hairy Dugless

November 8th, 2011
5:32 pm

Check out the hat of the photographer in the picture of Richt above. I’m gonna go ahead and give you credit for that one, Jeff.

dallasdawg

November 8th, 2011
5:42 pm

Oh GT fan, if only UGA could play in that high school region with your team. I am sorry, but no fan of GT should ever, I mean ever talk about who UGA has played. My lord son just look at who you play…enough said!!

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
5:42 pm

“They are 12½-point favorites over Auburn.”

USC was a 22 point favorite over Auburn. UF was a 7 point favorite to win.

Good luck, mutts.

Griff

November 8th, 2011
5:42 pm

The team is now 0-8 in last 8 games against ranked teams.

Shows team has quit on Richt, and Mark Richt has quit.

The “winning streak” was 7 wins against teams with 4-6 losses.

Nothing that would impress anyone but a UGA homer.

The “winning streak” has only proven that UGA can beat 4-6 loss teams.

We already knew that before the seaosn start.

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
5:42 pm

” we probably lose to LSU”

More like DESTROYED.

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
5:43 pm

” Look for an easy win over auburn and a huge upset over lsu in the Ga Dome! Dawgs to the BCS!!!”

Yep, and UGA won the 2008 NC.

Griff

November 8th, 2011
5:45 pm

1 Cor 9:24

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

Only 1 team will win the SEC.

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
5:45 pm

“But this team has proven its detractors wrong more times than not.”

How/when?

“Let’s see what Grantham’s defense does with the Tigers whirly-gig offense!”

Poor mutt.

Griff

November 8th, 2011
5:46 pm

The team is on an 8 game losing streak against ranked teams.

Beating the Cupcakes like 3-6 New Mexico won’t change that.

well?

November 8th, 2011
5:47 pm

7-2………We have a top sec defense and an offense that has the potential to do great things. When we go to the dome and face lsu i think a lot of people are going to be surprised with the outcome. Like i said before. Go you dirty dawgs go! all the way to the DOME!!!!!

OH MY

November 8th, 2011
5:49 pm

But watch the BCS closely. If Lsu does win the conference they are going to let Bama play them again for the title…….Remember when we were ranked fourth and got skipped over? Bama wont, that’s why the BCS is reall bullsh*t!

yearofthedawg

November 8th, 2011
5:50 pm

I agree with you Jeff.

However, if we lose to Auburn all the idiots will be back howling for coach to be fired. Someone told me today they thought there should be an extra stipend for SEC coaches designated as “combat pay” for dealing with all the haters. Of course, many of their salaries already appear to have that factored in. :)

John Galt

November 8th, 2011
5:51 pm

If we win out- and lose the SECCG- I would KILL for a Boise State rematch. We could beat them now.

OH MY

November 8th, 2011
5:51 pm

The BCs is going to give bama another shot in the tite game……and they will lost again and Saben will go to the nfl and then return to college football.

Say What?

November 8th, 2011
5:52 pm

Griff, you sound kind of butt hurt…… must be a Bama fan, don’t sweat it, they will give you guys another shot until how they gave Ga it’s shot in 2008….. Yeah we will win out and go to the dome and win the Championship! Yep!

whatacrew

November 8th, 2011
5:55 pm

Boy, Schultz – you have really drank the Kool-aide – have you become CMR’s boy – are you now carrying his note-book for him? So CMR “kept the faith” – But tell me – WHO has UGA played since going 0-2?? No one. Just look at the combined conference records of the teams they beat (of course this EXCLUDES Coastal Carolina and wimping New Mex St). UGA’s schedule is the laughing stock of the SEC – at least SC played Ark – which GA would get beat by them as well. And at least FL played LSU and AL – both would destroy GA – So go ahead CMR lovers – eat it up while you can – because it’s very easy to “keep the faith” when you play the teams UGA has played since Zero and Two.

JPC

November 8th, 2011
5:56 pm

I am a devoted Dawg fan but try to maintain some perspective. 0-2 to 7-2 is a great achievement, but I agree that this team still has much to prove. I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid, but do believe there has been steady improvement in this team that bodes well for the future. I suspect that UGA will get beaten by LSU, should we be fortunate enough to play in the SEC Championship; however, will be proud for the Dawgs to get to the Championship. The opportunity for the young players to play in that atmosphere will only better prepare them for the seasons to come. There is great young talent on this team and so, the coming seasons will be fun for us Dawg fans.

zebra

November 8th, 2011
5:57 pm

Fire Mark Richt. Whew! I needed to get that into the daily Schultz column pissing on UGA. Much better now.
Lol at “Ga has a 7 game winning streak against the little sisters of the poor. How in the world can they be favored against an Auburn team that can’t pass?”

Buddy Landell

November 8th, 2011
6:01 pm

Good defense? Based on stopping which team?

It's gonna hurt

November 8th, 2011
6:01 pm

2010 BCS CHUMP,

payback is hell and your multi-named team will feel the fury on Saturday.

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
6:04 pm

“payback is hell and your multi-named team will feel the fury on Saturday.”

Payback for what? Not our fault your team has a man-child for a QB. We’re still laughing at all the butt hurt mutt fans over last year.

I also love hypocritical dawg fans who called for Newton to be suspended yet cry like babies when 3 of their RB’s are suspended for one game for drugs.

I also love how Grantham tried to get in a fight with Vandys coach.

Idiots.

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
6:04 pm

“Based on stopping which team?”

New Mexico State Community College.

2010 BCS CHAMPS

November 8th, 2011
6:05 pm

“Yeah we will win out and go to the dome and win the Championship!”

Yep, and the Braves won the 2010 WS.

Vain Jangling

November 8th, 2011
6:09 pm

Dang, Schultz. Who will the hating haters have to hate with you giving the Dawgs the benefit of the doubt? Up is down, black is white, and dogs and cats are mating and enjoying it. Surely this is just some Tech fed AJC ploy to soften up the masses for next week’s knife in the gut.

Charles Dudish

November 8th, 2011
6:15 pm

Don’t you just love it when an article is written about a Georgia team and someone from Georgia Tech raises his head from the lowly bunker of the ACC (opponents: Duke, Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee, etc.) to make a comment about the weakness of Georgia’s SEC schedule. Tech left the SEC on its own and now wants to chirp about how tough their schedule is in a non-football league. Tech and that cute little stadium, adorable!

fan

November 8th, 2011
6:18 pm

thank god he didnt pay attention to people like you writing those negative articles.

You read it here second...

November 8th, 2011
6:19 pm

…UGA loses to AU and GT; Clemson loses to SC and either GT or VT in the ACC championship – thus, 8-4 UGA plays 9-3 Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on 12/31/11…

Bob

November 8th, 2011
6:24 pm

No Jeff, the win streak shows that we’re playing inferior teams now.

mansup

November 8th, 2011
6:25 pm

UGA lost to the teams it should have lost to….and defeated the teams it should have defeated. A good job, but not astounding. Now, if UGA should lose another game this year, the so called fans will once again jump ship and start whining about Richt. Disgusting, and predictable.

San Diego Dawg

November 8th, 2011
6:27 pm

I quit on this team. I admit it. I am glad the players didn’t. That said, we have had a weak schedule so I don’t want to get too excited like we are back to 2002-2005 where we were a damn solid football team. We are getting there on defense. We have a way to go on offense.

This could all unravel on Saturday in about 6 hours if Carolina beats Florida and we lose. I’ll be a true believer that we are back to where we were when we line up in the Dome and play a competitive game against LSU or Arkansas.

Hope I am wrong!

Gravy Train

November 8th, 2011
6:32 pm

People like to bash the opponents Georgia has beaten. They did what they were supposed to do, win. How would it look had they lost to two of the weak teams? It would look a lot like losing to Virginia and Miami.

2010 Chump: You know what’s coming and that’s why your running your mouth now. You are scared. Scared people with small brains always run their mouths off. The paid ringers for Auburn are gone. Keep running your mouth, it makes beating your candy rear all the more sweet.

Bob

November 8th, 2011
6:32 pm

Muscamp is coaching for his credibility so the Gators will beat SC. We should beat Auburn, but if Bobo resorts to his normal play calling, we may not. Then the pressure of playing Kentucky with a freshamn QB…whoa Nelly!!!!

ARdawg

November 8th, 2011
6:34 pm

Schultz

You could have also stated that Richt didn’t give up on this team. No, I’m not gulping the koolaid just yet but his resolve after the first two losses is highly admirable

duronimo

November 8th, 2011
6:35 pm

Give credit where credit is due. They have won 7 in a row. But fact is, they are playing well below their capability. When will they “put it all together?” Dog fans agonize over this every year and never seem to get a handle on the answer. By way of contrast, look at Tech. They have lost a couple of games but won some games in impressive style … all cylinders hitting. Their fans know how bad they can play and how good they can be – something we’ll never know under this coach.

Gravy Train

November 8th, 2011
6:36 pm

Also, I love thinking about the anguish and crow all the Richt haters are having to contend with. It must be a sad, lonely existence to rail against CMR. Only a moron would rather have a flash in the pan leading this program.

Gutrake

November 8th, 2011
6:37 pm

UGA will beat LSU in the SEC title game. Mark it down. Doesn’t mean that they are better than LSU, just that they will be better THAT day. UGA matches up better with LSU than ALA. Then UGA will be blamed for disrupting the SEC’s string of NC’s as Boise St. and Stanford play for all the marbles!