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

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
5:44 pm

Will Richt be around long enough to win 150 like Fulmer? You know The Fulmer CUP Richt’s players are working so hard to get changed toe the Christ Richt Cup.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 9th, 2011
5:46 pm

Aaron Murray managed a solid game against the Vols. No interceptions, no turnovers of any kind. He made the big play when we needed him to. All in a pressure-packed, intimidating stadium.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
6:04 pm

I did notice that there were fewer of the regular dawg bloggers on here today after a Big win. i guess they are still at the Atlanta PRIDE Festival and Parade. Get to more sniff’n there are some missed bottoms still out there.

Had to take that shot. You dawgs complain about DragonCon.

Snake Doc

October 9th, 2011
6:07 pm

What a bunch of idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A fan

October 9th, 2011
6:13 pm

Still@theBAR is funnier than anything on TV!

And right on the money, too.

destin dawg

October 9th, 2011
6:16 pm

Vandy is next…. one at a time…. Go dawgs .. Beat Vandy !!!!!

Hammerdawg

October 9th, 2011
6:25 pm

Our offense has a lot of talent, too bad we will never know how good they can be with OC Bobo
calling the plays!

North ave. faithful

October 9th, 2011
6:33 pm

I bet most of these arm chair Bear Bryants could’nt keep the gatorade cooler full at a college football gaGOOD GREIF!!!!!

BCS Countdown

October 9th, 2011
6:43 pm

Meanwhile in Atlanta,
Coach Paul Johnson notched his 137th win,
leading 12th Ranked and 6-0 Georgia Tech over Maryland.

Thomas Brown

October 9th, 2011
6:54 pm

# 57 Total Offense …… # 6 Total Defense
# 54 Passing Offense. # 11 Passing Defense
# 46 Rushing Offense # 12 Rushing Defense

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
7:04 pm

#1 on Total arrest of players in the last 10 years.

Reader

October 9th, 2011
7:21 pm

Award Central

October 9th, 2011
7:24 pm

#1 Party School (drunkest students).

#1 in number of Athletic Directors fired for drunken debauchery.

blazer

October 9th, 2011
7:32 pm

OFFICIALS GAVE UGA TWO CRITAL FIRST DOWNS-WORE RED AND BLACK

Spike 80DF

October 9th, 2011
7:32 pm

still@thegaybar, I assume tech is your team by the amount of time you spend on Dawg blogs. Glad to see you guys lead the world in rushing offense like every year. That moral victory will still get you a loss in November like it has 9 of the past 10.

Spike 80DF

October 9th, 2011
7:34 pm

blazer, officials also DIDN’T give the Dawgs a fumble recovery that replay showed Herrera caused and covered up AND they didn’t call the facemask to Boykin on the kickoff return that almost broke his neck. They missed plenty of calls so you just pick and choose the ones you want.

Wayne

October 9th, 2011
7:35 pm

Defense played better, offense still has a long way to go. Blocking is atrocious and IC is looking like himself. AM is not the answer and Richard Samuel is giving it up for the team. If only the other 52 were as loyal and unselfish as Richard. A win yes, but Richt should still go – he is winning against cellar dwellars and will not withstand the Florida and Auburn slaughter I feel is coming. Better luck next year.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
7:36 pm

My name is Spike i feel big calling people GAY. It makes me feel like such a big MAN. Well, until my wife gets home and makes me do her panties and pop the acne on her back.

ca dawg

October 9th, 2011
7:36 pm

the officials also “gave” us 2nd and 57, blazer.

ca dawg

October 9th, 2011
7:38 pm

still@thebar… you just made a gay joke yourself. give it a rest.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
7:41 pm

ca dawg you must read funny. i called the mutt Henpecked. I said some of the usual suspects must be at the Pride festival because we know all the tech people go to dragoncon. Hell they could be in the parade or just watching or shopping.

Spike 80DF

October 9th, 2011
7:42 pm

still@thebar “i guess they are still at the Atlanta PRIDE Festival and Parade” talking about Dawg fans.

now you act offended by my comment, haha…

Pcola-dawg

October 9th, 2011
7:50 pm

here gator gator gator fan. Not sure where you went? I am worried for you. GATA! Sic’em.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
7:51 pm

SPIKE and print the rest of what i said. Selective editing I see.

Still@theBAR

October 9th, 2011
7:53 pm

Pcola-dawg
I am sure he is waiting for the dawgs to back into the SEC CG and have LSU or BAMA do very bad thinks to the dawgs.

DOGFAN

October 9th, 2011
8:05 pm

MIKE BOBO NEEDS TO GO HIS PLAY CALLING STINKS,UP THE MIDDLE IS ALL HE KNOWS,HOW ABOUT SOME SHORT PASSES OVER THE MIDDLE TO KEEP THE DRIVE ALIVE AND KNOCK OUT SOME FIRST DOWNS.

Sess Poole

October 9th, 2011
8:17 pm

You know you’re approaching Athens when your tires start spinning in slime.

Rain delay

October 9th, 2011
8:20 pm

Did Israel Troup hold his water for the whole game, or did he water the grass again?

Virginia DAWG

October 9th, 2011
8:27 pm

Was at the game. Vol fans were respectable, but they are very frustrated. Defensive stats looked good but I am still concerned about the lack of pressure on the QB. D backs obviously were doing a great job to keep the passing yards down. Playing “not to lose” was driving me crazy. If the onside kick had gone UT’s way we could have been looking at a possible different ending. Based on our playcalling we should have just punted on 2 and 57 rather than waiting for 4th down and taking the chance of a turnover. I hate that approach. but I did really like going for it on 4th down 3 times. That really set the stage for the whole game.

ugaMUTT

October 9th, 2011
8:28 pm

levels of D in the SEC right now #1Bama#2LSU#3UGA#4SCAR#5ARK#6VANDY
levels of O in the SEC right now #1ARK#2AU#3Bama#4UGA#5SCAR#6TENN
levels of ST in the SEC right now#1SCAR#2LSU#3Bama#4ARK#5AU#6FL
POWER RANKINGS SEC
BAMA
LSU
ARK
UGA
AU
SCAR
FL
TENN
VANDY
MISS ST
OLE MISS
KENTUCKY
Arkansas gets UGA into the SECCG by default by handing SCAR its second SEC loss. GO DAWGS!!! LSU loses to Bama on the 5th b/c LSU doesn’t have a good offense. Les Miles being crazy will make this game way closer than the stats and strength of these two teams really indicate in the game. Tyrann Mathieu is a mutant. LSU’s title hopes are crushed and subsequently lose a big blowout to ARK to end the season in the Cotton Bowl. Arkansas goes to Sugar Bowl. Bama beats UGA after a close first half, 38-17 in SECCG. UGA goes to Capital One Bowl despite being the 4th best team in the SEC against Michigan/Penn St. Final records: Bama(14-0) ARK(12-1)UGA(11-3) LSU (11-2) SCAR (9-4) AU (8-5) FL (8-5) Vandy (6-7) Tenn (6-7) Miss St (5-7) Ole Miss (4-8) KY (3-9)

indianman

October 9th, 2011
8:30 pm

bart quit crying

ugaMUTT

October 9th, 2011
8:57 pm

gators-charlie weis got you for a paycheck that he isn’t earning. I am sorry you will have to endure another 3 brutal losses this season (GA, SC, AU) in order for you to realize that. There is a reason ND fired him. He is a horrible recruiter and overrated as coordinator, as ND fans I’m sure will tell you. After he graduated Willingham’s recruits he barely broke .500 in three seasons. He never won a bowl game that meant anything and he never beat USC. Muschamp will be done with his lies by late November, and expect the annoucement. Dan Mullen should go back to FL with Chalie Strong under Muschamp. Those two were great Coordinators and they are floundering as HCs. That said, do not embarass the SEC against FSU. They are truly horrible- one of the biggest flop programs I’ve ever seen.

whatever

October 9th, 2011
9:05 pm

The ONLY thing UGA proved is that it could beat a team who’s only wins were against Montana, Cincinnati, and Buffalo. And yet you guys like to bark how awesome the win was?? As for the 4th straight week – UGA hasn’t proven anything – except they can’t beat a Top 20 team.
And what about all the flags?? UGA won with the help of a lot of flags and non-calls. One of the calls would have given TN a 1st down (rather than being 4th down) on the goal line. And one of the “phantom” calls was a 3rd down (would have been 4th) where the refs called TN for holding in the end zone when the ball was not EVEN catchable and was much to the inside of the UGA receiver. But this gave UGA a 1st down on the 1 where they scored 3 plays later.
So all of you Dawg fans like to make excuses for you loss in the 1st 2 games and playing “what if” – well the same could be said about the TN game. The refs were really helping UGA – even the announcers said as much.

daddydog

October 9th, 2011
9:11 pm

There has been several asking “what should have been called on 2nd & 3rd down and 50″? Well considering the cornerback was 15 yards back; you throw to receiver and take the 10 yards, and if he can make cb who was all alone miss would have been a lot more yards.

daddydog

October 9th, 2011
9:19 pm

Good game from AM. Think we need MM nearly as much as IC.

JB

October 9th, 2011
9:22 pm

@whatever: 1. Very few if any people are ‘barking’ about this win. 2. UGA won because of the refs??
what a dumb@ss you are.

Bama Dawg

October 9th, 2011
9:42 pm

I couldnt be happier with the progress of this team. Say what you want about the easy teams we.have played but we did what we had to do to beat them. Am I the only one who remembers how poorly our D played last year? Or how lethargic and uninspired we played? Or how we always ran out of gas at the end of the game? Or how we were the most penalized , undisciplined team in the sec?

This defense is playing incredible and will only get better. Huge improvement.

This team plays inspired football and is winning with ease against the teams we should beat but didnt beat last year.

This team is still playing hard at the end of the game and instead of us running out of gas we are the ones wearing the other team out.

Ive been one of the biggest critics of Bobo in the past but I actially agree with what hes doing. He hS managed to show Florida just the minimum of what we have. We get a lead and then we play conservative enough to not show our whole hand. Id say all bets are off after the fla game. You will see a full 4 quarter offense and from that game on we will continue to use all our playbook.

What needs to be done now is give coach his extension so we can lock down Marshall. Can you immaging the tandom of Crowell and Marshall running the ball, and Mitchelle one year better? We will be a scarey team to play.

GO DAWGS!

Juice

October 9th, 2011
9:49 pm

Bill … you are as dumb as you look,,,could we please have someone/anyone write this blog who knows a little about football…

tripwire

October 9th, 2011
9:53 pm

LSU AND ALABAMA ARE LOSSES,FACE IT!

JB

October 9th, 2011
9:54 pm

@Bama Dawg:
I agree about the defense. If Ogletree doesn’t go down in the 1st qtr of the Boise game we could very well be 5-1 or even 6-0. The good thing though is now the backups have been seasoned and the D is that much better for it.

We need to get Marshall because IC looks a little too fragile. He needs to suck it up!

dbc

October 9th, 2011
10:17 pm

Samuel may not be the best RB UGA has, but he’s put the team first and deserves everyone’s respect. The cloud of dust comment is a cheap shot and just flat out wrong. This young man is a damn good dog. I can’t believe you would belittle him in such a manner. Richt, Bobo, etc are fair game because they should earn a big paycheck — busting on a TEAM guy who’s given it his all is simply the lowest of the low.

Thomas Brown

October 9th, 2011
11:41 pm

Bama Dawg October 9th, 2011 9:42 pm

“Say what you want about the easy teams we.have played”
“Ive been one of the biggest critics of Bobo in the past but I actially agree with what hes doing. He hS managed to show Florida just the minimum of what we have. We get a lead and then we play conservative enough to not show our whole hand. Id say all bets are off after the fla game.”
“What needs to be done now is give coach his extension”
1. We will have beat no ranked team again this season.
2. FL is UNRANKED football team in every poll.
3. Worries you doesn’t it that Mark Richt has no extension to his contract. Hasn’t beat anyone. 29 scholarships for 2011 are just GONE.

tell me again

October 10th, 2011
8:47 am

One other comment – by this time last year we had lost to teams we should have beat….this year we are not losing to teams we should beat and we should have a 5 – 1 record if not for a very bad offensive performance (giveaways) against SC. As for cupcakes and weak schedules – Florida fans should not even get into that conversation because their schedule was a regular baking factory for years with woosie teams to start and end the year. This teams has potential – not to say we are firing on all cylinders because we are not. We have a long way to go, especially on offense. But you have to like what you see on the defensive side of the ball so far. Our run defense is almost freakishly good against the run and it’s hard to hold ANY SEC teams to the kind of yardage we held Tenn. and Miss. St. to on the ground………we’re not winning pretty but not long ago Ohio St. won a NC almost totally on defense. And, of course, with players who were getting free cars, tattoos, jobs, grades, etc.

RGP

October 10th, 2011
6:03 pm

Great win on the road in a tough place Rocky Top U.