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

Did we make the record books???

October 9th, 2011
8:19 am

Most times to replay 2nd down, longest TOP for 2nd down, and 2nd and 56.

Lindsey

October 9th, 2011
8:28 am

Really loving Mitchell and can’t wait to see what he will do!! I heard that he kept wanting to go back in the game and the coaches had to take away his helmet, that is true Dawg spirit!! So happy CMR got that 100th win, he is a great coach and great man, happy he is at UGA. Congrats Bulldogs for another SEC win, GO DAWGS!!!

Bingo

October 9th, 2011
8:34 am

“Never met a lead I didn’t want to sit on mode” sums it up perfectly. This has been evident dating back to the Ok. State game in Athens where I watched my Dawgs literally attempt to sit on a lead for the ENTIRE second half. Playing not to lose rarely works and I must admit it’s good karma to see teams lose that are trying to do so, just not my team of course.

A two possession lead is not grounds enough to run the clock out when you have a quarter and a half still remaining!!!! This should be football 101 common knowledge.

I feel silly criticizing the Defense as great as they have been, but where is the pressure on the QB’s and where are the two monsters we were expecting at nose guard?

But great win! Go Dawgs!!

nurrelson

October 9th, 2011
8:36 am

I forget the commentators names that called the game last night, but who in the heck was the one weirdo that didn’t think dry humping a receiver was pass interference? My Lord, that guy would have said “just let the kids play and have fun” even if the UT defenders had their hands down the pants of the UGA boys.

dogdawg

October 9th, 2011
8:50 am

Thank God for coach Todd Graham,BOBO is counting on his D to hold the lead while he sit on it. Hope coach TG is always there to bail him out.

SC Dog fan

October 9th, 2011
8:57 am

Well, at least we didn’t run our usual draw play on 3d and 57. that’s a bit of a change of pace.

SEC EAST COACHES ASSOCIATION

October 9th, 2011
9:00 am

Thanks to Coach Dooley for sacrificing a win in order to keep CMR in Athens. Richt in Athens means more titles for everyone else.

Dawg48

October 9th, 2011
9:02 am

Lot of cry baby so called dawgster fans on here! Put on a blue shirt and pull for the gators cry babies!

Ellijay dawgcatcher

October 9th, 2011
9:06 am

Ed Cunningham was the color analyst last nite. He was really annoying, but his poor performance was overshadowed by that officiating crew. Granted, those two teams on the field didn’t help matters much. Bad football last nite. Georgia and Tennessee are galaxies away from LSU/Bama/Oklahoma/Wisconsin/Ok State.

IC Rules

October 9th, 2011
9:14 am

Mark this down—Ga will run the table and win the SEC East! Florida sucks, auburn doesn’t have much and Ga can beat both teams easily!!! Ga v. Alabama for the SEC title—take it to the bank. IC—best RB in the SEC!!!!!

yearofthedawg

October 9th, 2011
9:20 am

Really disappointing article. While the constant criticism of Bobo get tiring, at least he’s a paid adult doing his job. Its inexcusable to make fun of a 19-year-old kid who has switched positions twice to try and help the team, especially when he knew going back to RB could only hurt his personal chances to play at the next level.

Thats pure bush league crap, Bill. You should be ashamed of yourself.

JB in Blakely

October 9th, 2011
9:33 am

Some of you folks kill me! BoBo is playing not to lose? Well I can’t imagine why. The fan base he coaches for have only been trying to run him and the head coach off for the last year. When you have a defense playing the way ours is now and you’re up 14 points in the fourth quarter you do what BoBo did last night.

When are you folks going to understand the goal is to WIN the game! To heck with margin of victory and nit picking every single play. Coaches had a great game plan last night.

Go Dawgs!

zbulldawg

October 9th, 2011
9:45 am

Close hard fought games like this builds champions!!!!!!!! This young team is something special.The timing and focus is off at times. But over all they are getting better every game.In 1980 we had some games that very close.That was a veteran team except for Hershel.They had that bite that carried over for years “.Who is that kid he’s running over people ” Never forget the Blue to Scott in the Fla. game.We are seeing something very special building right before our eyes!!!!!! LET”S SHOW THE WHOLE NATION THAT WE BELIEVE !!! It will help in recruiting ALSO 100 in 11 that’s not that bad.No other coach in the SEC can claim that in the same span. Thank you Mark Richt

Kenny Powers

October 9th, 2011
9:49 am

Too many dropped passes yet again…momentum killers…sucking the wind out of play yet again…
need to hire a wrestling coach to get these guys in shape (a real wrestling coach, not one of those you guys watch on WWF)…maybe the strength part is working, but it’s obvious that the conditioning part sure isn’t where it needs to be…don’t understand this sitting on a lead trying not to lose, the great teams keep piling it on…the great teams get the attitude that they can score at will from anywhere on the field…there’s something missing with King’s route running, Murray throws to a spot and the receiver should be a lot closer to the ball than King was on these throws…just take a look at how many big plays Mitchell makes…where was Bennett the 1st half, the kid runs great routes, good speed, gets separation, catches the ball with his hands, is physical, and not afraid to go across the middle and take a shot…and what’s up with Marlon Brown, this guy has to be hurt, he can’t be that inept…with Charles more than likely going pro, bulk him up, teach him to block and move him to TE for passing situations, that is if he can get off the line, so far he’s a bust…
heard on the radio yesterday that Texas is starting something like 18 freshman, thus sending the msg to the older players that if you haven’t cut it by now, then we’re going forward without you…

Ldawg

October 9th, 2011
9:49 am

FYI: In the Phillipines, bobo means stupid. Of course, what is he going to do with a 3rd and 57? That was a no-hoper situation.

Tampa Dog

October 9th, 2011
9:50 am

Agree JB. The entire Bulldog nation needs to get behind CMR and this team. Are we good enough to win the SEC this year? Probably not. But we can have a very good season, win 10 games, and with another good recruiting year, build the foundation for a really nice run the next few years. CMR has 2 SEC titles in 10 years. I know it’s been 6 years since the last one, but winning the SEC is not easy. Stick with this group and there is a good chance we get another one very soon and that usually means a shot at a NC. It was not pretty but that was a nice win last night. The defense should keep us in every game the rest of the way?

Happy Warrior

October 9th, 2011
9:56 am

If you want less drama……. Tell Bobo to stick with the game plan!!! for the entire game!

Happy Warrior

October 9th, 2011
9:58 am

And by the way, Samuels is not healthy. We wanted to rest him until UF. Cut the guy some slack! He has went above and beyond for the program!

Happy Warrior

October 9th, 2011
10:04 am

JB
First of all let’s talk about what has worked….. Getting IC or RS or CT on the edge? Yes, 88 yards in the first half for IC against Miss St. 14 total in the 2nd. half trying to run up the middle. Not a good idea? who’s to blame? Bobo! On third and 2. And what does he call with CT in the game? A 175 lb tb? Up the middle! 4th down punt. Bobo is the problem!!!!!! Send him to UTenn.

Snoop Dawg

October 9th, 2011
10:06 am

Well, looks like Snoop Dawg’s predictions were right on. The players actually pulled this one out in spite of the coaching.

First, kudos to Todd Grantham and the big D (and I do mean BIG D). The 3-4 is established. Richt needs to let the muzzle off Grantham so he can be himself and provide some passion and leadership on the sidelines.

Richt and Bobo continue to demonstrate their complete incompetence. How many times were we deep in UT territory only to fizzle out like a dud munition on the battlefield? I didtn’t count them but it was a lot and TOO MANY. We got away with it last night.

In general, Murray was atrocious. His passing is outright dangerous because he is inconsistent and inaccurate. The OL did a little better but he got time usually only when he rolled out. We can’t beat the good defensive teams without more QB protection.

Malcolm Mitchell and Crowell are going to be All-Americans. Let’s hope they love the G enough to stay awhile…

Bobo set a SEC record for most yards in a single possession–57. PENALTY YARDS! What does that indicate?

Why did Bobo go into hibernation with over eight minutes left? This put the game in jeopardy and we could have very easily have lost the game to the home team because of this. We need to play the entire fourth quarter of aggressive football instead of trying to run out the clock as soon as we get two possessions ahead. This is downright incompetence by Bobo and Richt and is unfair to those fantastica UGA players. Let the big Dawgs eat till the end!

One last caution on a good night for UGA: Dont’ drink the koolaid on Marjoe Richt’s 100th victory celebration by buying into thinking that he might be OK after all. UGA will never win another SEC championship until we have better coaches.

GDawg 91

October 9th, 2011
10:09 am

Great win Dawgs! Our defense held the Vols to minus 20 yards rushing and the great Tyler Bray didn’t look all that impressive after placing pretty good numbers against less impressive opponents. Give the coaching staff a little credit a win is a win is a win in the mighty SEC. Stay focused Dawgs and continue to take it one game at a time. It’s not how you start but how you finish the season. Go Dawgs!

dawgerbrown

October 9th, 2011
10:13 am

OLD COACH: On second and 43 run a play-action and throw the ball deep. Why? Beause UT is expecting Bobo to be conservative. 1-Might get lucky and catch them off guard, been able to beat deep all night, 2-might get a pass interference call, 3-If they interecpt, no different than a punt. Just saying………..

Spike 80DF

October 9th, 2011
10:13 am

Gilliard, Vasser, and Herrera stepped up big. Beating UT is always fun even if we’re a mediocre team.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
10:15 am

Many schools routinely used a special admissions process to admit athletes who did not meet the normal entrance requirements. More than half of scholarship athletes at the University of Georgia, the University of Wisconsin, Clemson University, UCLA, Rutgers University, Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University were special admits. . . At Georgia, for instance, 73.5 percent of athletes were special admits compared with 6.6 percent of the student body as a whole.
At a glance, here are the top 10 highest and lowest schools based on the average SAT scores of football players (out of a maximum 1600 score):

FOOTBALL SAT SCORES:

THE TOP 10

School, Average

Georgia Tech, 1028
Oregon State, 997
Michigan, 997
Virginia, 993
Purdue, 974
Indiana, 973
Hawaii, 968
California, 967
Colorado, 966
Iowa, 964
THE BOTTOM 10

School, Average
Oklahoma State, 878
Louisville, 878
Memphis, 890
Florida, 890
Texas Tech, 901
Arkansas, 910
Texas A&M, 911
Mississippi State, 911
Washington State, 916
Michigan State, 917

brian

October 9th, 2011
10:20 am

Go Dawgs! Hope Mitchell can play next week and if not then for the Florida game. Can we please stop talking now about how tough the Auburn game is going to be? Their defense SUCKS!

Eaassyy

October 9th, 2011
10:21 am

thank you for that completely irrelevant non-sense post @thebar. Too bloody marys this A.M?

AFDawg in Va

October 9th, 2011
10:21 am

First off…We Won the game.

Bobo was better than he’s been in a while. For Perspective…We were 1st and 10 on their 23. We got there by slinging the ball and going for it. We only sat on it when we were 2d and 57. Nothing Bobo could do. He had to go conservative. Weren’t y’all thinking the same thing I was, “Don’t let AM throw a Pick 6″

Finally…We won the game

Paul Has A Small Johnson

October 9th, 2011
10:28 am

Bobo showed that he deserves a 5 yr contract

Two games where the offense didnt do anything for 2 qtrs

Last night we went from 2 qtrs of the offense doing nothing to 3 qtrs of not doing anything

Im trying to figure out what was the highlight of the night:

3rd and 57 or holding on to a lead by running the clock out

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
10:32 am

Eaassyy
Notice all the SEC teams with STUPID players. Most UGA’s players couldn’t pass the GED test if their lives depended on it. You dawg fans love UGA but your kids can’t get in unless they play a sport. A UGA Grad should be totally offended buy the special admits for football players. They DEVALUE your Diploma.

JB

October 9th, 2011
10:35 am

@SnoopDawg: Nothing wrong with the play calling in this game. Why did he go conservative? You answered your own question: Murray’s inconsistency.
Crowell needs to suck it up and play. Having him in more in the 4th qtr can make a big difference.

Eaassyy

October 9th, 2011
10:37 am

Your players are smarter than ours. And your dad can beat up my dad.

Congrats. Another reason to pound your chest as a winner.

Eaassyy

October 9th, 2011
10:38 am

whatever helps you sleep @night.

vinny ocean

October 9th, 2011
10:43 am

@Still@theBAR – What’s your point? Why are you trying to tell everybody this as if it’s top secret information that universities are trying to hide from the public? EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS THIS. Get off your high horse.

JB

October 9th, 2011
10:46 am

@Still at the bar:
A good portion of those SEC players will soon be millionares How stupid is that?

Also, Ga Tech needs to find some integrity. Being put on probation twice in the last 10 yrs is an embarrassment to the state of Georgia.

89DawginJAX

October 9th, 2011
10:47 am

Oh, Enough is Enough – Bobo DID NOT commit those penalties….get some new material….we won the game!!!

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
10:48 am

eaassyy I sleep fine @night. i don’t worry that I get a Sunday morning call from some jial to bail my football players out of jail.

Jared

October 9th, 2011
10:49 am

Yearofthedog couldn’t agree more! Bill you should take his comment into consideration!

#1bamafan

October 9th, 2011
10:51 am

Gooood Dawgs…..Congratulations, good win for Georgia. Keep it going and improve each week, the rest of the schedule can be a win. RTR

Dr. Morpheus

October 9th, 2011
10:53 am

Notice how the trolls ignore the subject of Grantham’s D? After beating UT, we’re #7 nationally in total defense. We’ve seen steady improvement this year on offense and are looking at winning the East.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
10:53 am

JB the world is Full of NFL Millionaires that are not Millionaires for long. How Smart is that?

UGA finally beat a team with a winning record(at the time of the game) but we will see how that schedule ranks after the season is over.
McGarity had stated that he wants to play as many “cupcakes” as he can to help UGA get to the MNC like Florida. Are you just mad TECH is getting that schedule right now?

89DawginJAX

October 9th, 2011
10:55 am

Murray protected the ball and played smart, Special teams are BACK, we went for it on 4th down twice, on the first drive of the game…the offense comitted those penalties not the coaches. UGA totally outcoached UT last night…nice job CMR, CTG, CMB, special teams and so on. Haters can shut-up we are IN the RACE for the East.

1969 Graduate

October 9th, 2011
10:56 am

If we’re content with being a second string team, we’re on the right track.

Does anyone – sober, adult, informed, intelligent – believe our team would have a chance against Alabama, LSU, or Oklahoma?

Some want to blame the boys on our team. Of course, they are responsible for executing, and for doing their jobs, and for their off field behavior, and for attending class, and for studying. We all know many of them are not, aside from athletic abilities, “college material.”

What’s wrong with our football program?

Sure, we can point fingers at players.

Consider how these same players would be likely to play were they the team coached by the coaching staff at Alabama, LSU, or Oklahoma.

Were we to trade players with Alabama, would our current players, coached by the Alabama coaching staff, look as good as Alabama looks?

Would the current Alabama players, were they to be coached by our coaching staff, look as bad as our team looks?

If the answer to these questions is in the affirmative, and I think it is, we have to look at our coaching staff, and their CEO, and the CEO’s boss, all the way to the top of the organization.

What are the objectives of our football program? Does the UGA football organization want to be a contender for the national title, and a consistent SEC powerhouse team? Is mediocrity the objective?

The answers to these questions are far from obvious. It seems apparent that our teams, as talented as they are, are not consistently ready to play, particularly early in the season. It looks like our coaching staff has objectives other than winning the SEC, and far from contending on the national stage.

If we measure competence by a “winning record,” or 100 wins, or finishing 2nd or 3rd in the SEC East, our coaching staff is doing fine. If the objective is to fill the stadium, and sell football trinkets, and make money for the school, we’re doing great.

If the objective of the coaching staff is to do well enough to keep getting their paychecks, they’re probably succeeding.

Is there any evidence that the football organization has in mind as a standard anything approaching the level of excellence of the true SEC powerhouse teams, or the true national title contenders?

UGA was exposed in the first half of the “Blackout to Knockout” game against Alabama in 2008, and continues to be exposed against powerful opponents.

While every win is important, is anyone else embarrassed that Georgia fans are celebrating as important, huge victories wins against teams as bad as Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss? Has beating only the bad teams become the goal of our football program?

We’ve all seen the coaching staff in Athens pull it together (2007 comes to mind). We all hope the same happens this year – that our boys can run the table, beating everyone, including Bama or the Baton Rouge Boys, and that we can play for the national title this season.

Those of us who remember the 1980 season remember how close some of those games were, and know that we had an excellent team which was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, winning plenty of nail biters.

Anyone who knows much about football knows not to take any game for granted. It really is true that a fired up, bad team can sometimes whip an excellent team which takes the first half off.

Not knocking our players at all with this, but we are far from being an excellent team, and probably not even a good team, although we should be with our talent, and we could easily lose to the likes of Vanderbilt. They, like everyone else, know Georgia is no Alabama.

The UGA football program has problems at every level. These problems will never be solved if the true objectives of our program do not require a standard of competency measured only by the highest of standards.

vinny ocean

October 9th, 2011
10:56 am

@89DawginJAX – Yeah we still won the game and no he didn’t commit those penalties, but if that was a better team we were playing very good possibility that was a loss. You gave a team the opportunity at the end of the game to tie it up. That’s all the elite teams need, an opportunity. UT just didn’t have the talent to capitalize on it. We need to finish a team when we have them down! I want to see a killer instinct in this team. One great thing I saw in the game was CMR going for it on 4th down… twice in one drive. Never thought I would see the day.

Paul Has A Small Johnson

October 9th, 2011
10:57 am

Yea we won the game but once again had to run the clock out to do it priceless

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
10:57 am

RACE for the East? don’t you mean the chance to NOT choke away an easy conference.

JB

October 9th, 2011
10:59 am

“The world is full of NFL millionares…” ??? Uhhhh No.
I am mad that one of the schools in my state can’t play by the rules.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
11:01 am

NCAA Rules? you Dawgs were CRYING like crazy over the AJ Greene thing.
The Dawgs don’t follow the rules. look at all the Arrests. Is that playing by the Rules?

Paul Has A Small Johnson

October 9th, 2011
11:02 am

vinny ocean

Ive notice that if fans raise enough h#ll Richt will do what the fans say

Kicking it in the endzone was one
Ive noticed more runs to the outside instead of straight up the middle

Now were going for it on 4th and 1

I guess everytime now even though I didnt agree with the 1st time he went for it; glad it worked or we know he would have stopped that as quickly as it started

(STILL)2-10 against ranked teams

October 9th, 2011
11:03 am

Enter your comments here

JB

October 9th, 2011
11:06 am

Which university in this state is currently on probation??
The silence is deafening.