UGA, Richt have a lot riding on the South Carolina game

Could Mark Richt's future at UGA come down to one game? (AJC file)

Could Mark Richt's future at UGA come down to one game? (AJC file)

Georgia football’s long, hot but relatively quiet summer unfortunately got a bit more eventful this weekend.

UGA announced that redshirt freshman Brent Benedict, a backup offensive lineman who spent last season rehabbing a serious knee injury, is leaving the program for “personal reasons,” and as you’d expect when a vague official statement leaves people wondering, there’s been a raft of rumors and anonymous-sourced online reports about what really went on there.

But whether it was simply a disagreement about UGA’s conditioning regimen or a case of the young man and his father brazenly looking to buy him another year of rehab by transferring to another SEC school, the fact is that any impact on the Dogs’ program likely won’t be felt this year. As recently as late May Benedict himself was talking about not having any feeling in one foot, and reports are he was unlikely to see much, if any, playing time this season.

So, yes, the Dogs’ offensive line is terribly thin when it comes to depth, but that was going to be the case whether or not Benedict was on the roster.

More troubling is the latest sorry story to bubble up from the cesspit that is AAU basketball, which has the eligibility of two UGA athletes in question over benefits they allegedly received that have absolutely nothing to do with the University of Georgia other than the fact that its programs might suffer the consequences.

It’s difficult to know just what the NCAA will decide, especially in the case of transfer linebacker Jarvis Jones, where an apparent “pre-existing relationship” with one of the parties might be a mitigating factor. But chances are both Jones and much heralded basketball signee Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will end up sitting out some games.

For Mark Richt, the similarity to last year’s A.J. Green debacle must be particularly aggravating, as Georgia might lose its starting outside linebacker for those crucial opening games against Boise State and South Carolina. (And, knowing the NCAA, Georgia probably won’t get word on Jarvis until a couple of days before the season begins.)

Speaking of the Gamecocks, Georgia’s game against Steve Spurrier’s team at Sanford Stadium is looking bigger all the time. CollegeFootball News has picked it as one of the Top 5 SEC Games of the Year.

CFN’s Barrett Sallee sums up the game’s importance to UGA pretty well by noting: “For Georgia, this could be the most important game of the season, and possibly Mark Richt’s career. A win here, and Georgia vaults from SEC East also-ran, to SEC East favorite in a matter of just three or four hours. The Bulldogs miss Arkansas, Alabama and LSU this year; and get Auburn and Mississippi State between the hedges. The toughest road game? At Tennessee. In the past, that’s been a problem, but I don’t see it being one this year. A win over the Gamecocks almost certainly makes it ‘Atlanta or bust’ for the fan base, and for Mark Richt’s job. Prediction: Georgia 20, South Carolina 13.”

What do you think? Is the South Carolina game a make-or-break situation for Richt and UGA?

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544 comments Add your comment

UGA '05

June 28th, 2011
10:45 am

Both have good defenses. I’m calling UGA 17 SCAR 10

Rural Education

June 28th, 2011
10:45 am

All the pressure will be on the Dawgs and they won’t handle it. Prediction South Carolina 35 Georgia 10

2012 FEAR THE END

June 28th, 2011
10:46 am

2012 FEAR THE END

June 28th, 2011
10:47 am

Paul H

June 28th, 2011
10:47 am

Rural, even when UGA loses they don’t get blown out but once every blue moon. And I assure you it won’t be at the hands of SC. Get your head out of where the sun doesn’t shine.

King Gator

June 28th, 2011
10:48 am

That game’s going to be tough, low scoring and close – I’d say USC nips the Pups by 3 pts.. better running game/control the ball/clock wins out in the end. Go Gators!

Mad Dog 1

June 28th, 2011
10:49 am

When has usc not been a must game for UGA?

VDawg

June 28th, 2011
10:49 am

I say UGA 9 SC 3

Jerry

June 28th, 2011
10:51 am

I will be interested to see how Grantham does in year 2 as the DC. That is going to be a big factor. Ever since VanGorder left it has been a rocky road for the UGA defense. That is going to be the biggest influence on UGA’s season IMO. It really is amazing to see the impact that VanGorder had. Pretty good read I found about it:

http://coachesbythenumbers.com/how-important-is-a-good-defensive-coordinator/

Time for a change!

June 28th, 2011
10:51 am

Absolutely!! There are no more excuses!

Bobo, Bobo, a pirate's life for me

June 28th, 2011
10:52 am

Unfortunately Bill, I don’t see us scoring many points with this amount of depletion on the O-line. I think they will get dominated as the game progresses, and we will not score very many points late in games which will inevitably cause us to lose a key game or two. And South Carolina’s D-Line should be very good this year. Im nervous for that game.

Just my two cents.

Worst to First

June 28th, 2011
10:55 am

I’ll feel alot better about the Dawgs winning if Garcia is taking the snaps

UGA_2001

June 28th, 2011
10:55 am

If Richt can’t win the East with this schedule and Tenn and Fla BOTH being down, he will never win it again and needs to be fired.

My fear is we go 8-4, beat tech, but don’t win the East and Richt gets another year.

The bottom line is the guy forgot what won him all those games from 2001-2005. He is a different guy now, and we will see this year if he will ever be the same again.

G8R GRAD

June 28th, 2011
10:57 am

Seriously?
Two SEC teams (one, the subject of this article) are playing in the College World Series and y’all are talking about football?

Time for a change!

June 28th, 2011
10:58 am

@ UGA-2001 – Agree 100%

Keith Strawn

June 28th, 2011
10:58 am

Carolina always manages to play Georgia tough, even though the Dogs has historically had the upper hand in talent. Unfortunately for the Dogs, USC has significantly closed the talent gap, and has a much better head coach, so Georgia is probably looking at 0-2 after the Carolina game.

JB

June 28th, 2011
10:59 am

If we are going to let the loss of a medical redshirt OL who wasn’t going to play this year anyway and ONE LB bring us down, we are in BIG trouble. There is a lot on the line this year. There are a lot of jobs on the line this year. It’s big business. It’s big money. The coach’s we have are MANAGEMENT.
They have to put together a roster and win. I hoping for the best. Go Dawgs.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 28th, 2011
11:00 am

UGA has to have a stout defensive performance against USC. It will have to slow down Lattimore and get Garcia to try and do to much and create turnovers. USC and the defense is not going to give up many points all year and this rivalry never generates alot of points. It is going to be a key game, but it hardly keeps us from being a “also ran” program. I think that is a little dramatic myself.

UGA Class of 71 & 73

June 28th, 2011
11:01 am

Soon, we will be down to about 12-14 weeks on UGA’s coaching future, one way or other. Frankly, when we lost that Oklahoma St game two years ago ……….. that told me that we were in for a two or three year down fall from our usual 9/10 win seasons. I knew that Joe Cox would not/could not get it done. I knew that CMR had lost his fire. The kids picked up on that too. We had no QBs in the wings beyond Mettenberger and look how that turned out. At least we have Murray. With him ………. we shall see.

Yes, the SC game and yes, the Boise State game are the two biggest in CMR’s UGA career. He does not look at life that way with his faith however but the subordinate coaching staff will look at it that way. THEY are on the line too. They must coach em up as well as they can.

We must win in the Dome vs Boise to at least act like we are worthy of such national TV exposure. We must win that game for the pride of the SEC and our own pride. Lately, UGA has not been worthy and I as an alumnus know it. Period. We are not ACC and GT caliber ……….. yet, but if we continue to slide, we will be.

The SC game is the biggest game of the year and for a lot of reasons. One reason is that very likely, UGA will tie SC for the East Championship and we must have that head to head competition thing working for us in that eventuality. They could lose two SEC games and so could we.

With this O line ……………. we have to get that win over with vs SC because attrition will take its toll. The recruiting failures of the past will rear their head this year in running back depth AND the O line. In the SEC, you must recruit good to great O linemen every, every year and CMR has not been able to do that with his coaching staff and with his pass happy style and it will catch him finally this year.

It is what it is gang.

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooo Dogs!!

GA Sandlapper

June 28th, 2011
11:01 am

Beat those Gators!!

lanier

June 28th, 2011
11:04 am

its the 1st conf. game so its the biggest 1 that day

DDPO

June 28th, 2011
11:06 am

It also appears that Ed Tolley is going to play a big role in how things shape out for UGA this year.

It’s always something with that program.

GA Sandlapper

June 28th, 2011
11:07 am

Should be a great game in Athens! Always is! As everyone has mentioned, the winner of the game will control their own destiny in East. Georgia does avoid the three favorites in the West this year, so even with a loss to SC, they could still win the East. Being a SC fan, we tend to lay an egg after a big win. See Kentucky from last year!

McDawg

June 28th, 2011
11:09 am

i share your views on Benedict but think that the NCAA should be able to wrap any inquiry w/ Jones fairly quickly since the police report and witnesses statements pretty well lay out the facts

Pago Pago Dawg

June 28th, 2011
11:09 am

Biggest game of the year….JAX!

truedawg

June 28th, 2011
11:09 am

The SC win is a must! A loss there and its job hunting time for the best head coach UGA ever had. Also impossible road almost to the dome if we lose to USC. The game last year was close, one fumble away from a tie. New defense, and new QB. AND STILL NO BLOW OUT. SC game is always close. This year better D, and got em’ between the hedges. Even without Jones, I don’t see Sc moving the ball on the ground that well. Low scoring game as always, UGA wins this one. 17-10 To think SC will blow the dawgs out, just shows you haven’t watched that game in the last …EVER. GO DAWGS!!!

RiffRaff

June 28th, 2011
11:13 am

Boise game – overall talent and speed wins this one ( + GA )
SC game – Defense wins this one ( tossup )

Tenn. will not be an ‘easy’ game in Knoxville. They actually improved as the season went on last year. They also found a QB.

Dawgy Style

June 28th, 2011
11:14 am

If UGA beats Tech, Richt gets another year.
USC 13 UGA 10.

Buckeye

June 28th, 2011
11:17 am

Spurrier/Lattimore rule

dogs/Isaiah “The Annointed One II” drool.

BulldogBen

June 28th, 2011
11:17 am

It’s absolutely make or break. Our schedule sets up so perfect for a run ESPECIALLY when Florida has an absolute gauntlet schedule this year with road games at UK, LSU, Auburn, and South Carolina. Not to mention Bama at home.

UGA/USC could put the winner in the driver’s seat the rest of the way.

Sadly, I have no real reason to believe that we’ll win either the Boise or USC game. Our secondary, linebackers, O Line, and receivers are ALL issues right now. If we’re banking on Crowell to be the savior then we are in deep trouble.

The odds of some huge 4 win turnaround after a 6 win season are VERY slim. The stats prove it.

Breaks my heart to say it, but I’ve lost faith in Richt. Anyone who HONESTLY believes this team is built to win more than 8 games is just being a blind homer.

Jeff

June 28th, 2011
11:19 am

Bill,

How many times in your blog are you going to ask the same question over and over again? They are actually paying you for this?

VolsRule

June 28th, 2011
11:21 am

Would like to see UGA beat Carolina – but I think South Carolina is going to win the game.
Why?
I just don’t beilive in UGA’s OLINE.
AJ Green loss is huge
I do think UGA will improve win-loss record – due to an improved defense.

South Carolina has flat been the tougher – more physical team compared to UGA the last two years.

The dangerous thing about S. Carolina – is that they now have confidence against UGA – whereas UGA would win the tough games in years past. Much like UGA could mentally win the Florida game – Spurrier turned that – he is turning the mental side of the game against UGA for Carolina.

Last years game – South Carolina beat up UGA on the ground and ran away with it in the 4Q
The year before – UGA won – fluke game- Carolina was the much more physical team.

UGA will probably go 8-4. – with losses to Boise, S. Carolina, Mississippi State and Florida.

Believe me – If Tennessee is not in position to win the SEC East – then I would rather see UGA win it over South Carolina or Florida.

I realize we all look at our teams with rose colored glasses – but UGA is what it is – your OLINE is in bad shape and I just don’t see how this team will hugely improve it’s running game and will miss AJ Green.

win v the orange ponies = loss v carolina

June 28th, 2011
11:28 am

if we beat the orange ponies richt will go soft and we will lose v carolina.
if we lose to the orange ponies it’s all over but the cryin…
and we are what…0-2 in our last trips to k’ville…..

no offensive linemen and players that have run afoul of the rules….the mark richt broken record just keeps on playing…

but, don’t be suprised if we win and go to the dome. Richt does well when the conference is down.
which means the half hearted “not executing the gameplan” will continue for the forseen future.
The conference will bulk up and then we will be back to where we are today.

based on the preseason hype this year is shaping up a lot like the year we were ranked #1….how’d that work out for us?

timthebrave

June 28th, 2011
11:31 am

It will be for the SEC east is my bet….In other words SC and FL are biggest games of the season

GA Sandlapper

June 28th, 2011
11:31 am

SC 17 to 14. Clowney pulls a Pollack and sacks/strips Murray for a Touchdown! :)

Remarkable

June 28th, 2011
11:32 am

I think that it shouldn’t be a make or break game, but with all the anger and bitterness about CMR it might. One thing is for certain: We don’t need to lose our starting corner-back for the first two games. NCAA is harder on UGA than UNC or just about anyone else.

RxDawg

June 28th, 2011
11:33 am

The USC game is the most important game of the season. But the most important game for Richt’s career is Florida. He probably should start winning more than a few of those. And with the Benidict rumors about him meeting with the UF coaches (while still being a UGA football player) I’d say the motivation will be real high for Richt.

Flo-Ri-Duh

June 28th, 2011
11:33 am

Sounds like normal stuff – losing players to injuries and dumb personal decisions.

Contractor

June 28th, 2011
11:35 am

I believe if Georgia can focus on Lattimore and stop him, then Georgia will win. Let him run, and even allow Alshon Jeffrey to get involved, and Georgia will get whipped by South Carolina. I think this game definitely has the most significance for Georgia’s season. Florida is just another beast all together, but starting out 2-0 would bring the team together, show its resilience against two big opponents, and get fans back into the crowds they were in the early to mid 2000’s. There is not a lot of faith in the football program, as they are selling individual game tickets, which hasn’t happened since I don’t know when, but that let’s me know the $10,000 faith in contributions when Georgia was pre-season #1 is no longer there. I will be there to pull the Dawgs through, and I just hope they take care of Lattimore and not let him personally drive a dagger in our hearts like last year.

RxDawg

June 28th, 2011
11:42 am

“South Carolina has flat been the tougher – more physical team compared to UGA the last two years.”

I agree with you volsrule. I think UGA beats Boise handidly, but I think USC will win in Athens. They’re just tougher and they have a much better running game then we do. I think they will win the slow and steady race in that game. Of course, I hope I’m wrong.

Pull My Finger

June 28th, 2011
11:45 am

Dawgs win, 3-2.

UGA Insider

June 28th, 2011
11:46 am

Is it just me or does anyone remember that we scored 6 points against UCF! Get a grip UGA fans…2011 is a total rebuilding year. We are lucky to win 7. Trust me.

Producer

June 28th, 2011
11:47 am

“But Richt is such a gooooood man…”

Maconbulldog

June 28th, 2011
11:48 am

So did we just forget about Richard Samuel or are we just saying we should not even play in 2011 and JUST forfeit. Lot of Doom and gloom in here. geez. Not a “Kool-aid drinker” but I am not into loathing my team.

USMC DAWG

June 28th, 2011
11:51 am

Richt starts out 0-2, and he will want to get back to Honduras ASAP.

trupert

June 28th, 2011
11:52 am

The NCAA needs to get off their you know what and make a decision about Jones well before the season. Ga got screwed last year with how they handeled the AJ Green thing.

The NCAA gave Green more time than they did the Alabama player even though the Bama player received much more.

You would think the NCAA would reward a team that’s playing by the rules and that’s not on probation, but they don’t seem to show any appreciation for that , so, look for a very late ruling on the Jones case.

NCAA, I’m calling you out. Do the right thing!!!

Ga will beat SC. Spurrier has a hugh disciplin problem and it’s his own fault. When you give a player six chances, the other players know what they can get away with, so they will take the extra chances, why not when the only thing you will miss is practice time and you still get to play in all the big games.

truedawg

June 28th, 2011
11:53 am

Maconbulldog,
I agree, we don’t need to worry about the D. RS is a beast and a total head hunter.Also Ray drew will be outside and Vasser looked good in spring game. D is stacked! Latimore won’t get 100 yds against the Dawgs this year. The D is solid. and special teams..well they’re special.. ;)
I see a close game as always but UGA will win the Sc game. 17-10

STEVE SPURRIER

June 28th, 2011
11:56 am

Come on – My boy from Flowery Branch will get it done if Garcia isnt back.
SC-27
UGA-14

UGA Insider

June 28th, 2011
11:57 am

Please Dawg fans I implore you to lower expectations. It will be another year.

Dirty Dawg

June 28th, 2011
11:58 am

We don’t lose to SC in back to back years…ever…the secret to handling Mr. Lattimore was clearly demonstrated in last year’s Peach (yes I said Peach) Bowl…hit him in the mouth and put him on the bench for the rest of the game.