Georgia has uncomfortable mix of highlights, slapstick

The Bulldogs celebrated their fifth win but know they have to play much better. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The Bulldogs celebrated their win but know they have to play much better. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS — Georgia arrived at 5-0 at the most unexpected place: Smack at the intersection of the Sun Belt Conference and a Marx Brothers movie.

This is where it’s important to point out that it’s only September, and style points don’t yet matter, and it’s not like Georgia did not do some pretty spectacular things Saturday (two freshmen running backs, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, combining for 294 yards and five touchdowns), and this is the SEC, and a win is a win, and (add whatever cliché that comforts you).

But there was a point in Saturday’s game against Tennessee when you found yourself thinking, “OK, who’s going to pull out the seltzer bottle?”

When two teams combine for 95 points, 13 touchdowns, 46 first downs, 1,038 yards, three fumbles, four interceptions, two botched extra points, one blocked extra point, one blocked punt and one dropped kickoff return out of bounds at the 1-yard line, the last thing that comes to mind is that one of these teams supposedly is an SEC and BCS title contender.

“I was about to have a heart attack,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.

“We definitely can’t do that kind of stuff if we want to be champions,” quarterback Aaron Murray said.

“I think this will ground us a little bit,” cornerback Sanders Commings said.

Georgia defeated Tennessee 51-44. We think. Maybe something else will happen on the replay.

Alec Ogletree had a tipped pass, leading to an interception, but admitted he felt "rust" after missing the first four games. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Alec Ogletree had a tipped pass, leading to an interception, but admitted he felt "rust" after missing the first four games. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The Dogs led 27-10 three minutes into the second quarter. They committed two turnovers and allowed three touchdowns in a span of 4:11 to fall behind. They scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half. Then they seemingly tried to blow it again, managing only one first down on their next four drives (Translation: “Take it. We don’t want it”), until Commings intercepted a Tyler Bray pass … with seven seconds remaining.

Well. That was easy.

Next week’s game against South Carolina should be a snap.

“This makes us stay humble,” Commings said. “Just because we’re undefeated doesn’t mean we’re unbeatable.”

And there it is.

Maybe something good will come out of this. The Bulldogs can do great things this season. They’re 3-0 in the SEC for the first time since 2005, which is the last season that they won the conference title.

But instead of receiving affirmation of Georgia’s lofty status in the rankings Saturday, we viewed highlights surrounded by slapstick.

Coach Mark Richt called the game’s PAT mishaps “a little bit of a comedy of errors.” But he could have been referring to almost anything.

If the Dogs had felt a little bit heady after their first four victories, this should bring them back down to Earth.

“We made mistakes, but it says something about this team that we came back,” Gurley said.

That would be the positive way to look at it. The negative will be on tape this week.

In the first half, Georgia seemed to morph from top-5, BCS contender to Compass Bowl bottom-feeder material in what seemed like 37 seconds. It was like watching somebody having this great day, hitting the lottery, finding the spouse of their dreams and taking a celebration stroll on the beach, only to suddenly have a mutant octopus from one of those Japanese monster movies reach out and grab them by the ankle.

It went from 27-10 Georgia to 30-27 Tennessee in 4 minutes, 11 seconds. Touchdown, Tennessee. Sack/fumble by Murray. Touchdown, Tennessee. Dropped kickoff return out of bounds at the 1 by Gurley. Fumble by Marshall. Touchdown, Tennessee.

If it was put to music on Broadway, there would’ve been a lot of cymbals and maybe a gong.

Georgia turnovers set up three easy Tennessee touchdowns (one interception return and two short drives off fumbles). But with the Dogs’ defense getting suspended players Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree back in the lineup, you expected far better than Tennessee amassing 478 yards of offense.

Ogletree on he and Rambo: “We just had a little rust, some missed assignments. You can’t really simulate game speed.”

If anybody was looking ahead to the South Carolina game with supreme confidence, this should temper things a little. We’ll soon find out if a little grounding helps.

– Jeff Schultz

340 comments Add your comment

Jon

September 29th, 2012
9:20 pm

Ugly win. But still a win. Maybe we’ll show up against South Carolina.

Gregg

September 29th, 2012
9:21 pm

UGA loses that game last year. We will take it.

Observer

September 29th, 2012
9:22 pm

Observer

September 29th, 2012
9:22 pm

Tom

September 29th, 2012
9:22 pm

UT o-line should get some credit. Very impressive.

Bigboy

September 29th, 2012
9:23 pm

Grantham is a long way from being the next BVG.

dawggirl

September 29th, 2012
9:23 pm

They better shake that rust off quickly. We have a busy week ahead of us with much work to do. Grateful for the win though.

Tom

September 29th, 2012
9:23 pm

How does Tech feel tonite? LMAO!

dawggirl

September 29th, 2012
9:24 pm

Agreed, Tom. UT gameplanned very well against us.

dawggirl

September 29th, 2012
9:24 pm

Okay, with SC now taking care of business, I’m guessing GameDay next weekend is in Columbia.

Sam

September 29th, 2012
9:25 pm

Bigboy? Been watching Auburn this year?

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:27 pm

south carolina just took the lead over a horrible kentucky team with 6 min left in the third quarter…so do they suck too? according to all the fair weather georgia fans sc is going to kill us…yet they are struggling against kentucky so…….

Augustabred

September 29th, 2012
9:27 pm

Dang Shutlz, did all that typing for nothing! As i was saying….Great win today! We actually scored too quick (if that’s really a bad thing to do) because our D played a whole lot more tonight than usual. Our D made big plays in the 4th qtr where they usually would have faltered in the past! Way to hunker down and secure a win! BIg ups to Sanders! Gooooooo Gurshall!!!!!!!!!!

Chris

September 29th, 2012
9:28 pm

How does our defense return almost all starters and Grantham…and then drop far down in the national defensive rankings? It’s hard to even understand.

Leroy

September 29th, 2012
9:28 pm

It’s Commings, Jeff…..not Cummings. Just a heads up.

Bigboy

September 29th, 2012
9:29 pm

Yeah Sam LSU 12 Aub 10

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:30 pm

dawggirl south carolina is hardly taking care of business against kentucky…they have a 4 point lead in the 3rd quarter and kentucky is on the move

Bigboy

September 29th, 2012
9:30 pm

ANybody on here think Grantham can hold SC,UF or LSU/BAMA to 10 pts?With all these NFL draft picks he is supposed to have?

dawggirl

September 29th, 2012
9:31 pm

They’ll still win the game and be undefeated. And so Chris, Lee, Kirk and Desmond will be there.

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:32 pm

bigboy sure they can. A horrible auburn team did

Bjohndawg

September 29th, 2012
9:32 pm

We won end of story

JSS

September 29th, 2012
9:33 pm

Enjoy the editors tonight Jeff Schultz

Swami SEZ

September 29th, 2012
9:33 pm

Todd Grantham isnt all that. He was looking clueless throughout the whole game. Everybody knows this except delusional dawg fans

dawggirl

September 29th, 2012
9:34 pm

Nice, Bama has to punt to Ole Miss.

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:34 pm

lol swami so who is your team?

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:36 pm

A RTR Hit-N-Run from ATL

September 29th, 2012
9:37 pm

Georgia showed a lot tonight.

First, to lose a 27-10 lead within one quarter, that’s not a championship caliber team. It’s one thing for a championship team to come from behind, it’s another to lose a lead that big, that fast.

Second, to have UT run the ball 6 times in a row from the 30 yard line and score a rushing TD, that’s flat out amazing. UT said we’re going to run it and UGA couldn’t stop it. Not championship caliber.

Third, if you play a defense that could tackle, none of those long runs would have happened. AND YET that defense stopped UGA on 4 consecutive drives with 3 3-n-outs and 1 4-n-out in the 4th quarter. (not counting the kneel down). When UGA needed offense, it was nowhere to be found. That’s not championship caliber.

Fourth, your QB is too short, your special teams are b-a-d and you wee gifted turnovers from the second coming of Ryan Mallet.South Carolina’s defense is going to slaughter your running and passing game. Their running game will have a field day with your overrated defense. It will not be close, South Carolina at home at 7pm wins this one running away. Book it.

Basically, you’re overrated but a solid top 15 that has not beaten a good team in 3 seasons or more. Now back to my game. :D

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:38 pm

lol who is your team? bama?

Ed

September 29th, 2012
9:39 pm

Offense was awesome but defensive performance was an embarrasment. And if this kid can’t kick an extra point, find someone on the team who can. The punter or a backup QB, maybe.

The almost helpless defense brings back some bad not-so-distant memories from the Free Willie years (not to mention bad memories from the Buffalo game). What the heck is going on?

Whatever it is, we better fix it, fast. As we saw in 2006, a promising season can go downhill in a hurry.

Ron O

September 29th, 2012
9:40 pm

Bobo and Richt have to scrap that Prevent Offense. It nearly lost the game for them. You can’t ask a team that is playing in 4th gear to suddenly start playing in 1st gear.

Bigboy

September 29th, 2012
9:40 pm

The entire SEC looks overrated at the moment,Bama included.

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:40 pm

Ill take that bet….south carolina doesnt look that great right now against a horrible kentucky team…georgia will win by two touchdowns….book it

Bigboy

September 29th, 2012
9:42 pm

Ron O CTG was in a prevent D mode almost the entire game..did you somehow miss that?

LDawg

September 29th, 2012
9:42 pm

Anybody still think we don’t need a special teams coach? I thought Swann was supposed to be catching those balls. They didn’t seem to have a clue. And the PATs?

I love that we have all of our guys back, but sometimes it’s not about making a big play but WRAPPING UP.

Apostle

September 29th, 2012
9:44 pm

Yeah,we won.No thanks to the D playing like it was the first time they had ever seen a football.And where was Jarvis Jones?A win,but a similar performance against SC will end in a loss.

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:44 pm

so who is your team bigboy?

LDawg

September 29th, 2012
9:44 pm

Agree with katherine….unless conservative Bobo makes a comeback. Hate that guy (”Hey, I know, let’s run it up the middle!”)

A RTR Hit-N-Run from ATL

September 29th, 2012
9:45 pm

Ah Miss Katherine, South Carolina might be struggling on the road to an unranked team… versus doing so at home… but I do kind of recall toward the end of the 3rd quarter against a hapless Missouri was beating you before some self inflicted wounds.

I wouldn’t throw stones at South Carolina, I’d just ask for mercy. Book it. ;)

LDawg

September 29th, 2012
9:47 pm

A RTR Hit-N-Run from ATL – have you checked out how well the chickens are taking care of KY? They are pounding the crap out of them and have the lead – by 4 points.

A RTR Hit-N-Run from ATL

September 29th, 2012
9:48 pm

1 word… Lattimore. Now hush pups, I’ve got a game to watch. :D

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:49 pm

lol the dawgs wont lose at south carolina…book it. They are a better team than south carolina imo….we’ll see

Jefferson Davis Hogg

September 29th, 2012
9:50 pm

As a Dawg fan I don’t know what to take out of this victory. Yes, The offense looks unstoppable at times until they stop themselves. The defence?…reminds me too much of the S. Carolina game of last year only this time we won. Last year we gift wrapped 20 pts against SC much the same as tonight. Maybe all teams have a game like this in them during the season I don’t know. Maybe they are looking forward to SC. But I do know one thing, the Dawgs of this tallent better choose to show up next week and play a complete game or they will get beat. I’m hoping that the defence improves much the same as they did last year after starting the season giving up a lot of yards and points as well. I’m still not convinced as to how good this team really is but I do know they are better than the performance they showed tonight!…I gotta feeling that they will get off the bus next weekend ready to play………Go Dawgs

Dawg Whisperer

September 29th, 2012
9:51 pm

Don’t hang your head, Derek Dooley. Tennessee has an excellent offense and with better secondary play, they will be a handful for anyone. UGA defense is a little schizo. It is hard to know what to expect after today’s game. Good thing we have those freshmen RBs.

Mike

September 29th, 2012
9:51 pm

This was a trap game. Like Danielson said, every team has to survive one of these. UGA did. For those wondering, South Carolina has been struggling with a worse UK team all night. Its not just UGA looking ahead to next week.

They did get sloppy both times they got big leads, but made the plays when they had to. The worst was the first half. UT didnt do much of anything without a UGA turnover handing them a TD. Still, they pulled it out. It might be a good thing. It might keep them on their toes going forward.

LDawg

September 29th, 2012
9:51 pm

RTR obviously your game isn’t as engrossing as you pretend it is since you are here.

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:52 pm

wow…sanders ran right through them

LDawg

September 29th, 2012
9:53 pm

No the worst was the last minute of the game.

Ryder

September 29th, 2012
9:53 pm

RTR, then explain how a championship team can have not one but 2 freshmen running backs go for a combined 294 yards and 5 touchdowns? If UT’s defense is supposed to be so great as you say it is then they would’ve crushed Georgia.

Face facts, moron, championship teams make plays when it’s needed, and that’s exactly what Georgia did. LSU barely beat a weak Auburn squad but no one would say they aren’t championship caliber.

South Carolina has a great defense and a stud RB but I will take Murray over Connor Shaw anyday. Go back to watching Tech get shredded by third rate programs!

katherine

September 29th, 2012
9:54 pm

I do want sc to win though..will make the dawgs win mean more

Jefferson Davis Hogg

September 29th, 2012
9:57 pm

@ Mike, agreed here. The dawgs have a lot of good in their favor too…..@ good tail backs, a very good group of recievers, and the OL seems better than expected. Our kicking really scares me though. Not the coverage, just kicking. Hopefully this is one o those games Danielson spoke of and we at least won. Anyone remember Ala vs SC a couple years ago, UGA SC last year, Auburn SC last year?….I, for some reason think the Dawgs, on the road will be more focussed and over the hype