A sweet night in Knoxville for Mark Richt and the Dawgs

A banged-up Isaiah Crowell gets one of his two touchdowns. (Associated Press)

A banged-up Isaiah Crowell gets one of his two touchdowns. (Associated Press)

How fitting that when Mark Richt notched his 100th win as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday night, it was in the same place that he won his first signature victory a decade earlier.

OK, this time there wasn’t quite the excitement of the famed “hobnail boot” comeback at Knoxville’s Neyland Stadium, but considering all the turmoil his program has been through the past three seasons, Georgia’s 20-12 win over SEC East rival Tennessee had to be one of the sweetest moments Richt has experienced in some time.

The Dogs got a crucial win in their quest to turn a season that started out 0-2 into a return trip to the Georgia Dome thanks to another stellar performance by Todd Grantham’s defense, which held the Vols to a stunning minus 20 yards for the night rushing and mostly limited UT’s hot-handed young QB, Tyler Bray, to short or medium completions.

The first half was a strange one, with both teams moving the ball up and down the field with relative ease (this despite Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell being off the field much of the time with a hurt wrist) and yet unable to get more than a pair of field goals each (and welcome back, Blair Walsh!)

Then, fortunately, the Dogs avoided the second-half doldrums that have plagued them the past couple of weeks, with Crowell scoring two touchdowns while the defense pitched a shutout in the third quarter.

The first scoring drive came after a poor Volunteers punt from their end zone gave Georgia the ball at the UT 38. With the help of a pass interference flag, the Dogs finally cashed in a drive. Then after the Vols were frustrated on the next drive (thanks to a video review that turned a touchdown reception into a fourth-and-3 punt), Aaron Murray hit Malcolm Mitchell for a 73-yarder that set up another TD run for Crowell, who was more effective in the second half, finishing with 58 yards on 18 carries.

The bad news was that Mitchell limped off the field with a hurt hamstring and sat out the rest of the game. Let’s hope he bounces back quickly from that, because the speedy freshman is a major weapon.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Georgia win if there weren’t flaws to chew over. The game shouldn’t have been that close, but Murray, who was a decent 15 of 25 for 227 yards passing on the night, overthrew wide open receivers several times.

And then in the fourth quarter Georgia self-destructed on a drive that had reached the UT 23-yard line before the Dogs seemingly decided to see how many penalties they could draw in one series of downs (the answer was five). Mike Bobo haters had good reason to froth at the mouth on that drive, as the UGA playcaller apparently decided to run up the white flag when it was second-and 56, handing the ball to Richard “One Yard and a Cloud of Dust” Samuel on two consecutive plays before Georgia punted, let UT get a good return and then allowed 15 more yards to be tacked on for a late hit.

The fact that Tennessee wasn’t able to turn all of that into points right away tells you how good the Georgia defense was, but when the Dogs got the ball back Bobo was back in his “I never met a lead I didn’t want to sit on” mode.

UT almost made a game of it, even after Bray went out with a hurt hand, as Tennessee tight end Mychal Rivera, who had five catches for 85 yards, made a spectacular grab of a pass from Vols backup Matt Simms at the 1 to set up a UT touchdown.

That’s where Tennessee’s poor special teams play made the difference, with the PAT blocked and then the onside kick attempt going out of bounds.

And so Georgia remains alive in the SEC East race.

Whew. As Richt told Chuck Dowdle in the locker room, “I’d like to see us have a little bit less drama in some of the games.”

This still isn’t a team where you want to look beyond the next week’s opponent, but as Richt noted, “If we just keep getting better, who knows?”

Feel free to share your views of Georgia’s big win in Knoxville.

Oh, and happy birthday to my Vols pal Joey. I have to admit I’m glad you didn’t get the present you wanted, but I hope otherwise it was a great day for you!

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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244 comments Add your comment

SatillaDawg

October 9th, 2011
12:12 am

I’m a Malcolm Mitchell fan!

Give that Dawg a bone!

Good win Bulldogs!

Dr. Morpheus

October 9th, 2011
12:13 am

Great win for the Dawgs!

Rook

October 9th, 2011
12:18 am

Great game Dawgs! Way to hunker down!

Dawg48

October 9th, 2011
12:19 am

If Mitchell was the deep threat on those 2 passes thrown to king he would have came down with it he has better speed to run under the ball. The two passes he caught tonight and the one at ole miss he about out ran the ball

Cali Dawg

October 9th, 2011
12:21 am

Good win, but we have to play better offense against Fla, Aub and Tech. We have to put teams away! I’ll take the win.

Old Coach

October 9th, 2011
12:23 am

Bill, I do not think you can write a sentence without blasting Coach Bobo. With all of your play calling ability just what play would you call on 2nd and 56? You are as bad as some of the trolls on your blog!

Vance Duly

October 9th, 2011
12:25 am

WOOF!!!… I agree – Coach Bobo’s inexplicable strategy of sitting on a lead that isn’t big enough to sit on drives me nuts (and everyone I watch our games with). In fairness to Samuel, he had nowhere to run on those plays, and they never give him a pitch out — so the defense knows if he’s at TB, they don’t have to worry about any variety from Bobo. Overall, Samuel’s 2 best runs of the year were called back for penalties, making his season stats look crappier than they should be. We were moving the ball through the air, improving as the game went on. So, that is a key clue that Bobo will pull the plug on our passing game. “Run some clock — and let Tennessee stay in the game.”

One day we will have a killer instinct. PUT THE GAME AWAY, and then rest……!! It was nice to see the defense fight hard for 4 quarters without fading!! …..GO DAWGS!!

Dawg48

October 9th, 2011
12:25 am

I agree old coach we should have punted on 2nd and 47! Lol

tell me again

October 9th, 2011
12:25 am

Yes we should have scored more – yes, AM should have hit at least two more TD’s – yes, the conservative play calling late almost got us in trouble again – BUT – an SEC road win is a precious commodity and winning in Knoxville has eluded us the past two times we went up there with good teams. Forget about how good Tennessee is or isn’t – we won yet another one (and on the road to boot) and are still kicking – we’ll take it and move on! GO DAWGS!

dawggirl

October 9th, 2011
12:26 am

Why does the board keep eating my posts? Ugh.

Very satisfied with the win, not an easy feat in an SEC opponent’s stadium at night with a hostile crowd. Improvement needed in some aspects, but I’m very proud of our players and congrats to Coach Richt on his 100th victory!

Celebrate tonight, don’t overlook Vandy, and get healthy!

dawggirl

October 9th, 2011
12:27 am

But don’t over-celebrate like CW!

TrueDawg

October 9th, 2011
12:30 am

A few thoughts: (1) I thought Richt set the tone early, going for it on 4th down several times, including on our side of the field. Looks like he’s gaining some confidence in this team, as opposed to earlier games where he wasn’t going for it; (2) Crowell is great, but he’s getting hurt an awful lot. Doesn’t seem like he can last a whole game. I hope I’m wrong, but he seems to be a bit of a primma donna; and (3) I really wish we wouldn’t sit on leads. Seeing Richard Samuel come in for his one yard gains is painful.

All in all, not a bad night. A win is better than the alternative!

Jordan

October 9th, 2011
12:30 am

Dawg48

October 9th, 2011
12:30 am

Bill I can’t believe you just said that comment about Richard samuels the kid may not be the best back we have but he is a great team player moved positions twice to better the team when we had players quit on the team! I lost respect for you and hope to see you leave in a cloud of dust!

randy in dalton

October 9th, 2011
12:35 am

Barbara Dooley. Now shut the heck up!

Sam

October 9th, 2011
12:36 am

Murray was off for sure, but King dropped a few balls and maybe was not hitting the spots as fast as he should have. I am thinking Murray was anticipating King being a bit faster. Also, not enough throwing to the TE!

Crowell is showing just how important he is and how much UGA needs to sign another good RB for next year to add meaningful depth. I have confidence that Courson and crew will get him healthy.

Sam

October 9th, 2011
12:38 am

True Dawg: I had concerns about Crowell’s durability. Wasn’t he hurt a bit as a senior?
Dawg48: No one is questioning Samuels’ loyalty, but he is not getting it done at RB. The shame is that he was moved over when his future really is at LB. I fear UGA has wasted a talented player.

Dawg48

October 9th, 2011
12:42 am

@ Sam no he is not the best back but bill being a adult man should not label him with that name! It was classless! I would have loved to see Richard play at linebacker he would be a beast. But bill should have not made that comment about him that’s all I’m saying.

Old Coach

October 9th, 2011
12:47 am

Dawg48 I agree 100% Total lack of class by the expert Bill The kid is a DGD and puts the team first. Rare with todays athletes.

Hairy Dawg

October 9th, 2011
12:49 am

A hundred wins is nothing to sneeze at. Richt has done a great job overall here, but a strong finish to the season would go a long way toward reminding us of it. Congrats to Coach Richt and the Dawgs on putting together their best performance of the season. Let’s hope it just gets better from here.

UGA Alumnus

October 9th, 2011
12:50 am

Colorado Dawg

October 9th, 2011
12:53 am

Victory feels good, but Mike Bobo still sucks. We’ll beat Vandy. The only question that remains is: Will CMR go to 2-9 vs. Florida. With Mike Bobo calling plays it seems likely. Going an entire half with no offensive rhythm won’t cut it in the SEC. And five consecutive penalties in the second half when you’re trying to ice the game? Lack of composure/preparation. UGA fans expect/deserve better, and Mike “Fail” Bobo isn’t living up to expectations.

LakeDawg

October 9th, 2011
1:06 am

I thought BoBo called a good game. What do you want him to do on 2nd and 57? Throw passes into the teeth of a defense waiting on the pass with a two TD lead? Not to mention giving the refs an excuse to continue their flag frenzy. BTW those 5 consecutive penalties were a disgrace…for the refs. The SEC…home of the worst officiating crews in the country.

BIDDAWG

October 9th, 2011
1:24 am

Georgia will win out!

BIDDAWG

October 9th, 2011
1:27 am

I know he is a good kid but I swear to god Richard Samuel is the worst running back I have ever seen!

Who's Your Daddy

October 9th, 2011
1:28 am

A “W” in Knoxville is always sweet, but Bubo continues playing not to lose with a skimpy lead!!! His mentality about this kills the players attitude, and is the kind of thing that promotes playing half heartedly. Not to mention keeping the first teamers in after backups should be in the game. Backups are missing needed playing time and starters are at risk of injury and missing deserved rest. This is not Division I football mentality, this is scared little wimp mentality.
Still great to see the orange go down!

southgadawg

October 9th, 2011
1:38 am

It wasn’t the play calling on the 2 and 3rd forever series that were so bad. It was the next series of 3 dives off no not tackle but guard. Those three plays gained exactly 0 yards from our 20. Then the Vols drove for a score! If we put just “3″ points on the board and not give away series the game would have been all but over. Bobo nearly cost that game.

As for the other 3+ quarters, the O looked pretty good. The D look pretty good the entire game especially after the first 10 minutes.

Congrats to CMR on 100 wins in under 11 seasons! And people want a coach fired that averages better than 9.5 wins a year. Go figure!

JGWOOD

October 9th, 2011
1:46 am

I don’t want to write off the competition, but our fate in the SEC depends on our play against Florida and Auburn. I see us making it to the SEC Championship if we play smart in those games. They are both winnable if we play smart and strong. And facing LSU or Alabama in the SEC Championship isn’t necessarily a bad fate; you never know what can happen in a single game with so much on the line. We are definitely gaining momentum.

SamoanDawg

October 9th, 2011
2:06 am

That same ref crew from AU game last season were inconsistent… few bad calls and few no calls. The fumble in the first quarter irks me and the face mask on Boykin, makes u wanna go… hmmm?

I’m happy with the W. D played good. O played good too, but missed few big opportunities.

Bring on the ‘Dores!

AFDawg

October 9th, 2011
2:09 am

CONGRATS to the Dawgs and Coach Richt on his 100th victory! I’m really happy for Coach Richt. I think the coaches, players and fans are giving the glory to God for this victory. Praise God.

vinny ocean

October 9th, 2011
2:12 am

still havent finished a team with the exception of coastal carolina. We had them down and out and then on two consecutive drives we run the ball like we’re content with punting it to them. Again, we’re lucky we weren’t facing a better opponent.

TossSweep

October 9th, 2011
2:30 am

Some of the same people on this forum congratulating the Dawgs are the same people wanting Richt fired four weeks ago. You know who you are. Please take a long drive off a short cliff. You fairweather fans are pathetic.

Dirty Dawg

October 9th, 2011
2:57 am

I still say Bill King has his blog approved by Don Leeburn before he posts it.

Bobo called the game like he and Richt decided it should be called. Young Mr. Murray has had his problems this year because he was given a bit too much freedom to ‘decide’ than he appears ready for…so they’re ‘dialing it back’. When they have a lead and a defense that has proven that it can control the game – at least against most of the teams we’ll play – and when we don’t have decent field position, then they ‘work the odds’. Was watching the game with a friend who was complaining about the play-calling…during a time-out we switched over to Auburn and Arkansas, just in time to see the AU QB overthrow a receiver down the middle and into what turned out to be a game-squelching interception. We didn’t need no damn turnovers tonight and we didn’t have any – at least I don’t recall any. Now about those penalties….

pj

October 9th, 2011
3:03 am

we won. on the road. against tenessee. end of story.

Longtime dawg

October 9th, 2011
3:28 am

I wish CMR would move Samuel back to ILB that is his natural position.
We have wasted a great talent over the past 3 seasons by playing him at RB.
Move him back now!!! Harton would be just as productive at the RB position as Samuel IV !

GO DAWGS!!!

William

October 9th, 2011
3:41 am

Just got back from Knoxville. Good win. Tennessee fans were nice to us, thank goodness. The only negative I can find from the game is the slight lack of a running game. Get the running game going and we have something.

Thomas Brown

October 9th, 2011
4:35 am

Next cupcake – 5th in a Row, is Vandie.
11-3 still looks about right; it had better be with this soft-easy schedule. South Carolina won again and played a different quarterback in so-doing. There is no way we should have lost to South Carolina. Thanks a lot Aaron Murray – who threw behind receivers and overthrew wide open receivers for touchdowns all night long vs that lousy defense.

Alabama, Auburn, Miami, BCS NC Mark Richt era
119-16 Boise State
114-26 Oklahoma
110-24 Texas 1 National Championship
109-25 Southern California on field 1 BCS NC vacated
108-29 Louisiana State 2 National Championships
106-22 Ohio State on field 1 National Championship
104-35 Virginia Tech
102-29 Texas Christian
102-34 Florida 2 National Championships
100-36 Georgia

Big Dawg

October 9th, 2011
4:43 am

A win in Knoxville is what we needed and we got it. So there are no complaints from me, I just hope we keep improving each week. Congrats to Coach Richt on his 100th win.

Go Dawgs

JE

October 9th, 2011
6:24 am

Bill, do you know anything about football, Samuel running the ball twice when he did with 54 yards going to make a first down was conservative. One thing they have not done is come up with a play fo use his talents. I have always wondered how good he would have been at either position if they had not put their money the EX dogs that left the team instead of developing him as a lb or rb. Those guys were 19 year old freshmen he came to GA as a 16 year old early enroller. The mistake was made his first year when we had all those RBs and used him to run the ball 27 times and return kickoffs. He has been placed in impossible situations for a kid his size and inexperience. Biggest blunder of the Richt tenure is their mishandling of his talent.

Northern Sympathizer

October 9th, 2011
7:13 am

I disagree about being critical of Bobo “going conservative when it was 2nd and 56″. Who in their right mind wouldn’t after we got hit with 3 straight holding penalties. Bobo called a good game.
Hats off to Mitchell who continues to impress. I thought Murray was very shaky in the first half but seemed to settle down.
UT looked poorly coached-unfortunately for the Dooley flock.

Snake Doc

October 9th, 2011
7:21 am

I still want the orange, spray on tanned one fired. The CEO is a joke. This team and this CEO will never compete for anything other then runner-up in anything. Of course, thats good enough for all you boneheads who are content with your mediocre lives, your mediocre wives, and your below average jobs.

Mediocre may be good enough for you, not for me. This team still has not beat anyone of consequence and contrary to all your blithering, your mediocre intellects know that is a fact.

Mediocre – Of only moderate quality; not very good: See UGA Football

Snake Doc

October 9th, 2011
7:30 am

@Northern Sympathizer – You’re correct UT did look poorly coached. I believe young Dooley is outclassed in the SEC. He probably has one more year at best to turn UT around before the axe falls.

The only thing more glaring to me is how poorly coached UGA is. What wins games for UGA is the talent level of the players alone, the UGA coaching staff is outclassed against superior opponents, against inferior opponents, well, we all know they can beat high school teams.

Possibly, if young Mr. Dooley had the talent UGA has the outcome might’ve been different. But they don’t and it wasn’t.

4th and 56, are you freaking kidding me? What a joke!

RambleOn84

October 9th, 2011
7:53 am

Congratulations to the Bulldogs…here’s hoping you guys keep winning until our game in late November.

GO JACKETS!

bubba4dawgs

October 9th, 2011
7:59 am

I love for the Dawgs to win but geeeeeeeeee, Mr. BooBoo scares the pure hell out of me!!! I say to myself: “What in the hell is he thinking?”. Yeah, I like the 1-2 yds. and a cloud of dust with Richard Samuel! Why don’t you use this man where he is best, at linebacker? And, why don’t you try and get a first down and with the good receivers you have, throw the damn ball to them and maintain possession? Goodness, you’re scary! The defense beat the pure crap out of the Vols. None of the writers and commentators in Knoxville gave the Dawgs a chance to control Bray and company like they did. Anyway, GO DAWGS!! Oh, and I see you scared the hell out of Coach Richt as well!!

GA7276

October 9th, 2011
7:59 am

I am not a Bobo fan but I am not blind. Does anyone remember the bomb to Mitchell from the 10 yard line with a seven point lead? do you call that “conservative play calling?” We opened up from the beginning with long shots down field. With the box stacked, we threw. Not conservative at all. And with 2nd and 57 in the fourth quarter with a 14 pt lead, throwing would just be “stupid.” Gotta give Bobo some credit on this win, men, but most of you won’t, because you’re just “boys.”.

Junkyardbyrd

October 9th, 2011
8:01 am

I just don’t see how anyone can be happy with the way we’re playing. Nothing has changed from the last few years, except for the fact that we have a defense. On that note, do you think it would be too hard to teach these guys a pass rush move besides the “bull” rush? Our pressure was not that spectacular. People, you need to wake up. Mike Bobo is an idiot. Aaron Murray is an average QB at best. His accuracy is subpar, and his decision making worse. How many times must we watch him throw up his hands in frustration after choosing t run when he should pass, vice versa, or missing a wide open receiver? If anyone still thinks moving Richard Samuel back to RB was a good idea? I have a magic bean I would like to sell you. There is enormous talent here, but it is not being coached. We have been lucky to get by awful teams, and I have a feeling a certain team -”down there”- will be waiting for us with open alligator arms in a few weeks. We have been handed the SEC East on a silver platter. All we have to do is go out there and take it. But we won’t be Florida, Auburn, or Tech playing this way. If something doesn’t change, something needs to. Otherwise, we’ll be having these conversations for another 10 years.

Old Dawg Fan

October 9th, 2011
8:05 am

Very good win in Knoxville. Little concerned with sitting on a lead but with all the penalties I guess the way it is. A little concerned with not being able to cover the crossing pattern’s from Tenn on the short passes. We need to shore up these few items and we have a real shot at the East title.
We will beat SC if it gets to a “playoff”.

Lakedawg

October 9th, 2011
8:12 am

How many SEC schools have a coach with 100 W’s, or any other schools. Ready to start on the next 100, still believe CMR can catch Coach Dooley. Also best called game by Bobo this year, kept them off guard most of the night until we started trying to kill clock.

Season shaping up nicely.

Macclenny_dawg

October 9th, 2011
8:12 am

Same ole UGA!!! Didn’t show up in the 1st half!!! Can somebody tell our players and coaches there is 4 quarters not two!!! But why should that change been like this for years now. Murray was hott in 2nd half and in the 4th we never threw it thanks Bobo!!! No killer instint and that will come back to get us sometime!!! The d-line wasn’t getting any pressure and looked like on a lot of plays wasn’t even trying!!! But we did win but still a lot of room for improvement!!! Go Dawgs!!!

bart

October 9th, 2011
8:13 am

Good win over a not very good team. We are a mediocre team, let’s face it. We would be blown out of the stadium if we had to play Alabama, LSU or even Arkansas The defense is looking good, but the offense has a long, long way to go. I hate the fact that we sit on leads. That strategy will come back to bite us I’m araid. It almost did yesterday. We seem to have the talent to be a very good team, but the guys are not being coached to play up to their potential. I agree with Junkyardbyrd, something needs to change.