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!

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244 comments Add your comment

89DawginJAX

October 9th, 2011
11:07 am

Hey 69 – Wow, next time make your post a little shorter…I doubt anyone read the enitre entry… and BTW maybe we can’t beat LSU this year but I sure hope we get the chance…this team is good and getting better…each week we are improving…we could NOT say that last year at this time. That improvment is obvious and deserves to be recognized.

Moron Dawg Fan

October 9th, 2011
11:08 am

I agree 89 DawginJax……let’s give Richt a contract extenstion!

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
11:09 am

CSS is showing the UGA v UT game go watch it again and watch how Great the Dawgs are.
The Dawgs are not bad, but still have not played well all year. Played enough to beat some bad teams. That is the fun of Football. You can only beat the teams on your schedule and the ret is out of your hands. So. Carolina looke a lot better with Shaw under center this week. Don’t know it that can last. The rest of the EAST teams have to play good WEST teams. UGA should walk almost Blind to the DOME.

JB

October 9th, 2011
11:10 am

Arrests you say?
At UGA: driving a scooter without a license, underage drinking, etc.
At GTU: beating your girlfriend, dealing DRUGS, etc

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
11:13 am

Who beat their girlfriend? I have to see that one.

Dodddamndogs

October 9th, 2011
11:15 am

Never read so much b.s. in my life.

East Title!

October 9th, 2011
11:20 am

GA has the SEC east wrapped up! Florida is way down and isn’t coming back anytime soon. Ga can run all over that terrible defense. Their offense sucks to with a freshman QB! Ga beats Auburn and wins the SEC east.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
11:23 am

Who do you guys feel about VANDY this week? Vandy put up 24 or more points in their wins but on 3 points in their loses. Do the dawgs see a pathetically easy win or a good game?

MPS

October 9th, 2011
11:29 am

The slightest touch seems to bring Richard Samuel down to the ground with ease. It’s very hard for me to envision him at LB…wouldn’t blockers be able to knock him to the turf immediately?

Snoop Dawg

October 9th, 2011
11:29 am

@JB: Coaching is a lot more than play calling.

Dawg_Mike

October 9th, 2011
11:31 am

Vandy is the only thing we should be focusing on. nothing more.
All you ” we are going to run the table” folks please just calm down.
We have a freshman sensation reciever that is hurt and it seems to me that hamstring injuries never heal, so in the blink of an eye things can change- so please settle down and concentrate on Vandy.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 9th, 2011
11:32 am

Snoop Dawg

The kool-aid bar is open for free drinks I see this morning

I can here it now in January

we are winning it all next year garbage

Dawg_Mike

October 9th, 2011
11:33 am

We also have a freshman sensation running back that will be dramatically better NEXT year.
its obvious that he is not in SEC condition and with another year of training and coaching he will be much better.

Dawg_Mike

October 9th, 2011
11:35 am

Memo to Mike Bobo- watch OU operate and pick up a few pointers. They are a machine.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 9th, 2011
11:36 am

Dawg_Mike

The same SEC conditioning program that saw Moreno taking himself out of play series right

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 9th, 2011
11:37 am

Mike Bobo the one who threw to Charles one time last night

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
11:39 am

Flat Tire coming with the NOT SOLD just yet come backs.
Only at the halfway point.

Snoop Dawg

October 9th, 2011
11:43 am

Flat Tire: I bet you were a National Merit Finalist and UGA recruited you for your brains. We need to keep up the drumbeat about Marjoe Markt Wrecked and Bozo or these double digit IQ folks are going to give them a big salary increase and a long term extension.

Even if we win the SEC East, you have to factor in that we had the easiest schedule in the past 50 years. In spite of this, those that we don’t lose seem to be nail biters until the last minute.

The coaches (except Grantham who was muzzled) have no killer instinct, no eye of the tiger. The players mimick their coaches.

UGA will never win another SEC championshiip until we get a fresh coaching staff in…

This does not mean I”m not ecstatic about the Dawg’s W in the Purina Dog Park last night. They did it in spite of Richt and Bozo.

@69, that was a good, thoughtful analysis of the state of UGA football. Don’t be discuouraged by the Richt Adoration Club.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 9th, 2011
11:44 am

Still@theBAR

I wont be sold until this coaching staff beats FL 2 yrs in a row,
turns the 2-10 against ranked teams around,
wins the east outright and that means not sitting here hoping an east team that beat us loses out to get into the SEC championship
And starts beating top 10 teams instead of having an 80% losing record to top 10 teams

Until then please pass your glass of kool-aid down to the next UGA moron. Im not thirsty

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 9th, 2011
11:51 am

Snoop Dawg

My post to Still@theBAR sums up where Im at as a fan

Also if you go back and look I stated back in the summer on these blogs that we would go 11-1 looks like I will be close

This schedule is a joke this year and actually we should be 6-0 not 4-2 but thats what you get when you have a conservative coaching staff that has to be told by its fanbase to go for it on 4th in inches

Go_Bravos

October 9th, 2011
11:57 am

Glad for the win. Would offer constructive criticism, however that gets one labeled as a traitor, unloyal,not a true fan etc etc. UGA continues to play DOWN to their competition and when they face a very good team they either get blasted or find a way to lose the game.
All comes down to coaching and UGA rarely looks like a well coached team. Please Dawgs don’t choke the rest of the year away like my BRAVOS, still painful to think about the season.
Fredi=Richt???

GO DAWGS

KaliDogg

October 9th, 2011
12:04 pm

UT could not cover us. There were a host of options available in the passing game that are available, even at x and 56 or whatever it was. Why not gain yards. The first down and field-goal spots were not the same. And, while Murray managed a better game, Kellen Moore would have been counting up 4-5 touchdown passes last night. Got to do a better job but I’m hoarse from yelling about Murray (and his “enabler” Mr. Boo Boo).

Great effort by UGA. Todd Grantham for President (of the football team).

RockyFlop

October 9th, 2011
12:10 pm

Tickets for the game…………………….$260
Gas money to drive there…………………$77
Watching the hillbillies leave the stadium…Priceless

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
12:15 pm

for $269 how many tickets did you get? I hope 4 for that price to watch 2 bad teams scratch out 4 FG’s and 2 TD’s.

Dawg48

October 9th, 2011
12:38 pm

I see the cry babies are on here crying about wins that were not up to their standards!

Is ESPN3...free ??

October 9th, 2011
12:42 pm

So the game against Vandy can watched on a laptop for free..?? true..??

http://espn.go.com/college-football/schedule/_/week/7

SEC Fan

October 9th, 2011
12:44 pm

If I were Mark Richt, I would be praying to The Lord that the 1st string FL QB won’t be back for the UGA game. Without him, Rict might luck up and win. If he is back, all bets are off. If Richt loses this one, the recent wins won’t amount to a hill of beans. FL ain’t in the bag by any means.

Bogey

October 9th, 2011
12:50 pm

Bill, I see you agree with my assessment of Richard Samuel. I’ve been saying since game one that this experiment must end. He’s a talented guy so get him back on the other side of the ball where he can help you and himself.

wins-by-a-link

October 9th, 2011
1:04 pm

Nothing wrong with a win in Knoxville and a milestone for Coach Richt in his 100th victory, I thought it was a little strange to sit on a slim lead, Reminded me of Vince Dooley sitting on leads and turning it over to Erk and his boys, Looking at the programs at Ala and LSU and comparing those to Richts at Georgia I have to say that I don’t think Georgia will ever compete with them, Not with present coaching staff.

Fire Mark Richt

October 9th, 2011
1:21 pm

I’m loving what the defense is doing. If you play great defense, wins will come. The offense is still pretty average, but average offense and great defense is the formula that worked for UGA from ‘01-’04.

I don’t have much faith in Mark Richt’s coaching abilities, but I’m starting to believe in Grantham’s.

If Georgia continues this run AND beats Florida, I’ll drop my moniker and advocate another season for Richt. If we lose to Florida…again…then I don’t care what else happens this season. If we don’t beat UF this season, then when? I said that last season, too.

USEagle

October 9th, 2011
1:30 pm

Good coach , great kids 20-12 . We won.

Go Dawgs, onward and upward.

Brain

October 9th, 2011
1:35 pm

Bush league move calling out Richard Samuel like that.

Terry

October 9th, 2011
1:39 pm

Still@theBAR, How did you feel about GT’s 21-16 win at home, again’st Maryland, the same team Temple beat 38-7?

Cabin Bluff Dawg

October 9th, 2011
1:39 pm

Fans , friends, critics, couch Q.B.s ,
The worst play calling wasnt the second and 57…. Bobo was conceding to punt and avoid a costly turnover. BUT the second and goal from the five call to throw it twice in a row was the stupidist crap that always seems to be the norm. We just had gotten 3 yards on first down and made it second down and goal from the five. Why not pound the rock and have at the worst third and goal from the two or so then you have two downs to get two yards. So sick of playing for feild goals and it seems we just have to try and be the Florida State of the old days…..Pound the rock–demoralize the opposing Defense. Give it to the fulback or the tailback and slam it in there……If you throw a pick it comes out to the twenty. If you cant rush five yard in three plays you still have them backed up to there own two or so…..Somebody help with this . Not trying to just pick apart the play calling but we dont have to pass inside the five yard line….PLEASE…. Notice what happened the next time we got to the five… Crowell got it in there on the second try……

destin dawg

October 9th, 2011
1:41 pm

Good win… 100 wins is a real landmark in the SEC….. now we need Malcome to step up and spell Crowell at RB… Zander Ogletree… Figgens… somebody ??? Go dawgs !! beat Vandy !!

kybodawg

October 9th, 2011
1:45 pm

glad to see that the last two weeks chris connely is also starting to emerge.

destin dawg

October 9th, 2011
1:45 pm

Tech tickets are $25.00 each.. and not sold out !!???

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duronimo

October 9th, 2011
1:49 pm

Georgia played another partial game making the score much closer than it should have been. This time Bobo called a good game but Murray kept overthrowing open receivers until he hit one in the 3rd quarter. The pattern seems set in stone. We have the same elite athletes that Bama and LSU but we perform well below their level. That it was a close as it was, was entirely our fault.

destin dawg

October 9th, 2011
1:50 pm

wins with great defense are not always pretty … look at Vince Dooley years with Erk Russell’s Junkyard Dawgs !!!! Todd Grantham the new Sec. of Defense… Go dawgs !!!!

brandon

October 9th, 2011
1:51 pm

Great win, i absolutely love malcolm mitchell, not only is he fast and talented – He’s TOUGH & wants to play every play. HOWEVER, am I the only one who sees Crowell’s lack of toughness and desire to play. Yes he’s talented, but I don’t think there is any question we have a prima dona on our hands and its going to get out of hand if the coaches and/or team leaders don’t get it checked quick!.At one point I saw coach Richt shaking his head in disgust and it was due to Crowell taking himself out again. I guarantee if Richt was honest he would admit this to be a fact, but he doesn’t want to upset his star player. I also guarantee if crowell had picked Alabama over Georgia he would not be doing this – Saban would not stand for this! crowell is worse than Knowshon in wanting to come out of games, but I believe Moreno had much more heart. I’m telling you now this needs to get nipped in the bud, or we will have a Marcus Dupree on our hands. I believe he is doing this because he got away with it in high school, and now he’s getting away with it in college. We need crowell badly but he’ll never be as good as Lattimore, Richardson, or Dyer with his attitude. Please let me know if others see this! My wife who barely even knows what a first down is sees this!

Terry

October 9th, 2011
1:54 pm

What’s sad is coming on here and complaining about a win, just because you can’t complain about a loss, I was taught to always believe in the in possible, that’s how you make them come to pass. I just hope these players don’t come on here with all this negative energy, talk about Vampires.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
2:05 pm

Terry what are you trying to get me to be an energy vampire on Tech when you are calling out energy vampire dawgs?
I feel as good as needed with the jackets 6th win as you seem to feel about the dawgs 4th win.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
2:06 pm

Destin and where do you get the $25 tickets for a Tech game?

Slayer

October 9th, 2011
2:13 pm

Fearless prediction: We beat Bama in SEC Title Game by 10 points! Crowell for Heisman!

Dennis

October 9th, 2011
2:18 pm

Sure is good to have a Defense again! Watch out for Vandy. That would be a shame to lose that one and the Fla game not mean anything.

Terry

October 9th, 2011
2:26 pm

Still@theBAR, I called you out because you are a Troll.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
2:31 pm

Terry
SO! This is a PUBLIC FORUM. I have a right to discuss the game and play of your team.

Terry

October 9th, 2011
2:31 pm

Still@theBAR, It was you that posted your bad teams comment first.

Terry

October 9th, 2011
2:34 pm

Yes, but I’m not the one on the GT blog running your team down.