An inspired UGA goes to 2-4 and ponders ‘running the table’

Proving he's the Alpha Dawg, Mark Richt leads Georgia onto the field. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The Alpha Dawg: Mark Richt leads Georgia onto the field. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS — The best 1-4 team in the land was so excited to be 1-4 no more that it did a victory dance in the locker room. Chief among the celebrants was the head Bulldog.

“Coach [Mark] Richt was the main one,” said Demarcus Dobbs, the defensive end. “He loves to get crazy after games.”

The past four Saturdays had yielded only a crazy sorrow. Indeed, as tailback Caleb King noted, the Bulldogs reacted with such fervor to Saturday’s thrashing of woebegone Tennessee team because their dancing had been so long deferred.

“It’s a silly dance,” King said. “But we hadn’t been able to do it for a while.”

Dobbs again: “It’s a lot different when you win. When you lose, everybody’s hanging his head and people are asking what went wrong. Today everybody’s vibrant.”

Not since Sept. 4 had the Georgia Bulldogs won a game. Not since Nov. 21 had they taken a lead against an SEC opponent. And the worst part of being 1-4 (and 0-3 against conference brethren) was that these Bulldogs knew, just knew, they were way better than that.

Here’s the redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray, who was as good Saturday as most redshirt seniors ever get: “We feel like we can definitely run the table these last six games.”

Got that? From 1-4 to 2-4 … clear to 8-4? (Which would mean beating Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech.) As presumptuous as it might sound, there’s nonetheless something tangible backstopping that belief. That something is talent.

It took a lot of (mis)doing for a team this gifted to get to 1-4, and it took some effort for Richt to keep it from going totally south after the egregious losses in Starkville and Boulder. To his credit, the coach of 10 years’ standing changed some things.

The Bulldogs practiced in full pads Monday. (Richt admitted Saturday his light-contact approach to summer camp “backfired.”) The team dressed at the Butts-Mehre complex, doing the pregame Dawg Walk in full gear. Prompted by a caller to his radio show, Richt even led his Bulldogs onto the field.

And the result? Said Richt, speaking of his men: “They played beautifully.”

He also recalled what he had told his team after the full-contact Monday session: “If you guys will play like you just did, we’re going to be all right.”

Whatever has ailed Georgia — and when you’re 1-4, you’ve ailed — can be fixed. We saw Saturday the difference between a team with a bad record and good players and one with a bad record and bad players. This game was over after a quarter. Tennessee kept handing the Bulldogs the ball, and the Bulldogs kept taking it and scoring. And the best player on the field was the player Georgia hadn’t had for four games.

“We’re not going to give up,” said A.J. Green, the great receiver. “We’re all we’ve got.”

At peak capacity, Georgia has a lot. That was the message Richt sought to send with his Monday-in-pads decree, a message seconded on Friday by the former UGA linebacker Boss Bailey, who served as honorary captain for this game. Said Richt: “He felt like he needed to tell them that they weren’t playing ball the way ball should be played here at Georgia.”

On Saturday they did. They beat Tennessee by 27 points and spent the fourth quarter coasting. It would have been unseemly to embarrass Derek Dooley, the Vols’ coach and the son of Georgia’s greatest coach. (For the record, Vince Dooley watched the game from his home on Milledge Circle. His wife, Barbara, was in attendance wearing red slacks and an orange sweater, a look even the stylish Mrs. D. couldn’t quite pull off.)

By then, Richt’s team had long since proved its point: Georgia may have a bad record, but it isn’t a bad team. And now six games remain, time enough to do some damage.

Said Richt: “I never lost hope. I never lost faith. I never thought we had a significant amount of problems.”

Except for the losing. The losing was an issue. On this Saturday, as opposed to the past four, Georgia did not lose. It won and did its silly dance. It will dance some more before this season is done.

797 comments Add your comment

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:39 pm

can it be Mark??

Mark Bradley

October 9th, 2010
5:41 pm

Kudos, Coach Todd Grantham.

Haven’t you been, ahem, first about 3-4 times? (Heh, heh.)

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:41 pm

most frustrating thing about this record, change less than half a dozen plays and the season is completely different.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:42 pm

or 4-3 times.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:43 pm

i have to admit, my timing’s been great all day.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:44 pm

do you think they left Murray in too long today?

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:45 pm

from the previous blog i said it looked like the entire first string offense was in the whole ballgame. richt was either looking for style points or we have no depth at all.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:46 pm

ok, I’ll hang up and listen. heh

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
5:46 pm

Coach Richt looks like he is running for a booth at the Five Points Waffle House.

Dawg Tired

October 9th, 2010
5:47 pm

Mark – Just how bad must LSU be?

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
5:48 pm

Coach grantham, I think they left Murray in because there is a chance they can still redshirt Mason. I do not know the obscure rule, it probably involves a crack dealer masquerading as an agent.

Brandon

October 9th, 2010
5:49 pm

Where are all the idiots who are usually on here incessantly criticizing the coaching staff now? Probably complaining that we didn’t score 50, or that we didn’t get a shutout…. Congratulations to the coaches and players. I hope we ‘run the table’ the rest of the season just to make the bandwagon contingent look like the losers they are…

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:50 pm

Notice something about the pic of Richt running in front of the team? he’s running in front of a fullback (munzenmier i think) and a tight end. no chance he could have gotten trampled.

MattMD

October 9th, 2010
5:50 pm

Good win for sure but Tennessee is a really bad football team. It seems a bit premature to talk about “running the table”.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:51 pm

cuz, if you redshirt mason, then wont murray have to take every snap from center this year?

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
5:53 pm

still have concerns about the running backs and run blocking. pass blocking was superb.

CO Nick

October 9th, 2010
5:53 pm

One game at a time, that’s for sure. We stopped the bleeding today and gave Dawg nation some hope! Now, beating Florida would be big. When’s the last time we beat TN and FL the same year?

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
5:53 pm

we got a couple of walk-ons at QB too coach.

Brandon

October 9th, 2010
5:54 pm

The point of talking about ‘running the table’ is that you have to have that attitude to win at all… What else should the players say? “We need to be realistic… There are probably a few more games on the schedule that we will lose.” No. It’s like kindergarten teachers telling their entire class that any of them can be president. That’s not true, but having the attitude that you could be president will probably do a lot for you in your life….

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
5:55 pm

the chickens are cackling. Lattimore just scored again. I can hear them yelling here at my house on the bank of the Savannah. The good side.

Mark Bradley

October 9th, 2010
5:57 pm

No, I don’t, Coach Todd. Because all Murray did the fourth quarter was hand off. (To be precise, he threw one pass and got sacked once — on the first series of the fourth quarter.)

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
5:58 pm

If LeMay changes his mind, we will need that redshirt on Mason. I need to check with Towers on that one or ask Lowndes25.

SteveWs

October 9th, 2010
5:59 pm

Been tryin’ to tell the Tide fans. You have the best team in the country. But, because of a scheduling quirk, you will lose 2 games. And you will taste the unfairness of scheduling quirks, like some teams already have.

If Boise played the Tide’s schedule, they would forfeit the rest of the season after the 8th game. You can’t play 6 teams coming off bye weeks in this years SEC and not get punished. Hate it for the Tide, because they are the best team in the country.

Beast from the East

October 9th, 2010
5:59 pm

Congrats on righting the ship, Dawgs. Right this minute, that loss to USC isn’t looking so bad. They’re manhandling Bama.

Mark Bradley

October 9th, 2010
6:00 pm

Mason played in the first game. He can’t be redshirted.

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
6:00 pm

Mark, did you get anything to eat at the game. Bummer with the noonish kickoff. I recommend the Five Points Waffle House before the next game. Coach Richt is carrying a menu from there in your pic.

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
6:01 pm

That’s just the Kentucky in you talking Mark. When Adams sets his lawyers on the NCAA anything can happen. Look what they did for AJ.

Mark Bradley

October 9th, 2010
6:01 pm

I had two chicken salad sandwiches afterward, Cuz. Tim Tucker — a fellow gourmand — and I agree that the postgame Georgia chicken salad sandwiches are delicious.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:02 pm

ok, cuz but it would be surprising if murray COULD take every snap this year. he got his bell rung pretty good a couple of times today. if murray goes down for a half, say, you burn mason’s redshirt anyway. why not let him get a few reps in. unless logan gray is the real backup.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:03 pm

gourmand is a person who takes great pleasure in food. right?

jim

October 9th, 2010
6:04 pm

Nice to see the dawgs playing like they did today. Hope springs eternal and Mark Richt is still a good coach. Go Dawgs!!

Mark Bradley

October 9th, 2010
6:04 pm

I believe that’s correct, Coach Todd.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:05 pm

i am quite glad Mark the outcome from this game didnt beg for you to use some connotation of the Marianas Turkey Shoot from earlier today.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:06 pm

a derivative of gourmet i would venture to guess.

Mark Bradley

October 9th, 2010
6:06 pm

I’m going to Google that one.

Mark Bradley

October 9th, 2010
6:07 pm

Lost three aircraft carriers in that battle, did the Japanese. I did not know that.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:08 pm

my dear uncle beauregard grantham told me many stories about that battle. favorite one was where he said they held the Japanese scoreless cause they could only pilot zeros. heh, heh

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:10 pm

i dont mind being corrected if i’m incorrect.

yes, that battle basically annihilated Japanese airpower.

Sheila

October 9th, 2010
6:13 pm

Why were all the thugs who were put on probation by UGA last week allowed to play today?

And don’t tell me they had already served a week or two suspension. That was Richt’s punishment, not UGA’s.

Shameful to let these thugs play today. No wonder they call UGA the Cesspool of the South.

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
6:14 pm

I believe they shot down about 230 Jap aircraft in that battle, but I could be low on the number,

RAID

October 9th, 2010
6:14 pm

It was great to see them play up to their potential…..Where have these guys been all year?…..Maybe CMR figured it out at last…..I sure hope so……and as badly as I thought it’d be good to hang 60 on someone, I thought it was pretty cool that they did’nt, given it was a Dooly on the other side……But even still, I’m scared of the continuous big plays given up in the passing game on the same side of the field….Was also a little disturbed on the last Tenn PAT where they were walking off the field before the ball was snapped and made no effort to block it……But better still, they showed great improvement and its a good start to a possible decent finish…..thats all we can hope for……

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
6:14 pm

Bite me Sheila.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:15 pm

The Essex, Langley, and Cowpens were 3 of the US aircraft carriers from which the planes that destroyed the Japanese airforce and pretty much the navy were launched. those carriers were on manouvers on and not at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

surfdawg

October 9th, 2010
6:16 pm

Way to go Dawgs!! Who called the offensive plays today, because it could not have been Bobo.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:17 pm

actually, the Japanese lost over 600 planes in the engagement. their airforce was not a factor in the war after that. except for the Kamikazi suicide planes that attacked US ships off of Okinawa.

Cuz

October 9th, 2010
6:18 pm

I think those three were Escort Carriers and not in the Pacific at the time of Pearl Harbour Coach. The Essex could be a fleet carrier but I know the other two were not.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:18 pm

Kamikazi means “Divine Wind” in Japanese.

MattMD

October 9th, 2010
6:20 pm

Players need to worry about the game ahead not running the table when your team is freaking sub .500.

todd grantham

October 9th, 2010
6:21 pm

not disputing you Cuz, just recalling from what i’ve read before. my recollections have, more than once, been faulty.

Darrell

October 9th, 2010
6:22 pm

Atlanta Sports Academy vs Chattahooche Tech College Football @ Tara Stadium 1:30 pm Sunday October 10, 2010… Come Support the programs….