In the SEC Least, know who looks hot? Mark Richt and UGA

As Vince Dooley once said: "We've got good depth at dog." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

As Vince Dooley once said: "We've got good depth at dog." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Two weeks ago we wondered if Georgia would win another game. (I was pretty confident about Vanderbilt and Idaho State, but the way the Bulldogs were fumbling and getting arrested you couldn’t know.) Now we wonder if they can win the SEC Least. (It’s suddenly possible.) And we also wonder if their coach isn’t again the most stable guy in his division.

Mark Richt has gone from losing four in a row, a personal nadir, to beating two division brethren by the aggregate score of 84-14. In the SEC East, where every team has lost at least two league games, this qualifies as a surge.

How uninspiring has this division, once the class of the collegiate game, become? Consider: Should it beat Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday night, there’s a chance Georgia, which not so long ago was 1-4, would go to Jacksonville favored over Florida.

Because the Gators are awful. And South Carolina looks eminently capable of doing the South Carolina thing, meaning build up hopes only to send them crashing. And the other three East teams are a combined 2-8 in conference play. A closer look at the Least;

South Carolina: Even by Poultry standards, the past three weeks have been dizzying. The Gamecocks blew a lead at Auburn, beat No. 1 Alabama by two touchdowns and blew an even bigger lead at Kentucky. Steve Spurrier botched the endgame in Lexington and was summarily demoted from Evil Genius to the New Les Miles. And Marcus Lattimore, the great freshman runner, got hurt against the Wildcats.

Florida: Watching the Gators lose to Mississippi State and erstwhile lieutenant Dan Mullen, it really did seem as if the Urban Crier was about to cry. (Given that the last Florida coach who lost to MSU got fired the next week, Meyer might have had reason.) His famous offense had managed six points against Alabama and now seven versus State. In between he’d managed to get outsmarted by Les Miles. Retirement looks better with every week, wouldn’t you say?

Kentucky: Joker Phillips, the new coach, has a new slogan: Operation Win. This marks an improvement on the old UK mission: Operation Lose In The Most Painful Way Imaginable. And the Joker did just beat Spurrier — would that make the Ol’ Ball Coach the Riddler? — in a game of national significance. But the Wildcats have also accomplished two things that required real effort: They made Florida’s offense look good for one night, and they lost to Ole Miss, which had lost to Jacksonville State.

Vanderbilt: It was believed new coach Robbie Caldwell wouldn’t win an SEC game this season. Hah. He has beaten Ole Miss and might beat Tennessee. He also lost to Georgia by 43 points. It’s still Vandy, I’m afraid.

Tennessee: As ever, the Vols’ schedule eases toward the end. By then, however, they figure to be 2-6 overall and 0-5 in SEC play. And the hiring of Derek Dooley, which went over well enough at the time, has begun to be regarded as another in the series of Mike Hamilton whiffs. (Athletic directors never look good when their choice messes up worse than Les Miles, who has become the most interesting man in the Western Hemisphere.)

Can UGA win the East?

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And then there’s Richt: Calm, cool — if Georgia’s coach is nothing else, he’s calm and cool — and managing to collect his thoughts. The offense looks good. The defense looks better. After starting 0-3 in the conference, the Bulldogs are on the move.

To win the division, Georgia needs to finish a game ahead of South Carolina, which holds the tiebreaker edge because it beat the Bulldogs. (A three-way tie could reset the tiebreaker.) But the Gamecocks still must play Arkansas in Columbia and Florida in Gainesville; it’s possible they could finish 4-4 in the league.

To get to 5-3, Georgia cannot lose again. It must win at Kentucky, in Jacksonville and at Auburn on Nov. 13. I’m not sure about that last game — Auburn’s pretty stinkin’ good, to borrow a Richt-ism — but neither the Wildcats or the Gators are any better than the Bulldogs. This could still happen, people.

435 comments Add your comment

Buck Commander

October 18th, 2010
8:32 am

Cant say it.

Buck Commander

October 18th, 2010
8:33 am

But its better than being last.

Mark Bradley

October 18th, 2010
8:33 am

C’mon, Buck Commander. Nobody will know.

Buck Commander

October 18th, 2010
8:34 am

Nothing like a new blog and a good cup of coffee this early in the morning. Thanks, Mark.

I can settle the...

October 18th, 2010
8:34 am

…argument between Tech and UGA as to who is obsessed with whom by the following – what college, university, high school middle school, etc, at every sporting event, when a great play is made, plays their fight song that mentions the name of their rival, even though that rival is not even involved in that event? “If I had a son sir, I know just what he’d do” – CASE CLOSED….

Uga VIII...

October 18th, 2010
8:36 am

…now that is one good looking Bulldawg, unlike UgaVII who was just butt ugly and looked deformed…

JTH

October 18th, 2010
8:39 am

Now we know the real reason Meyer wanted to retire.

Spurriers' last words, with 11 seconds...

October 18th, 2010
8:40 am

…left in the game were, “whatever you do don’t throw it too low so that our guy does not have a chance to outjump them” -so what does Garcia do, throw it too low…what a classic Garcia moment…

J Clay

October 18th, 2010
8:41 am

only worry about Kentucky, that is all that matters…see where looking ahead gets you (’08, earlier this season etc)

AlwaysAVol

October 18th, 2010
8:43 am

Mark, very good column! How about one on the West now?

just facts

October 18th, 2010
8:43 am

remember the basketball team that got on a run and what happened in the sec tournament?…. just saying…….

Dap01

October 18th, 2010
8:49 am

Is Urban Meyer still sleeping in a padded cell?

MURPHY

October 18th, 2010
8:49 am

We get past Kentucky this week and I will be a little more of a believer. I still dont think we can shake this Gaytor thing in Jacksonville. Urban has 2 weeks to change the offense and im sure he will be ready for the Dawgs. It is nice to see the Dawgs finally clicking as a team.

Mike S

October 18th, 2010
8:49 am

MArk, Auburn is good, but they are a one man team. Auburn’s defense is by far the worst D in the SEC (And possibly the nation), and their offence is Cam Newton and 10 nobodies.

As long as Newton is healthy, AU can beat anyone, but if someone comes up with a scheeme to contain him or if he goes down with an injury, Auburn would be hard pressed to win another game.

Jeff

October 18th, 2010
8:51 am

So uga loses to miss st, just like fla, and beats up on crap teams tenn and vandy and they are good and Fla is awful. Ok nice logic. 17/20 is what it is. And you aren’t beating auburn.
Plus even if you did win out, you would need SC to lose 2 more times. That’s not going to happen.

German Shepherd Dawg

October 18th, 2010
8:51 am

just facts,

Thanks for a completely irrelevant analogy.

ATL is TigerTown

October 18th, 2010
8:51 am

You gotta admit, Vandy was terrible. Terrible! Georgia State would’ve beat them Saturday. Kentucky’s pretty good. Don’t be shocked if they take two in a row from uga. Florida sucks, but Miss St is no pushover.

Asheville Dawg

October 18th, 2010
8:52 am

Possible , not probable. Auburn looks formidable

Michael

October 18th, 2010
8:52 am

Beating Kentucky–possible, but not easy. Florida? Not likely. But Auburn? It would have to be like one of those last minute Notre Dame wins where God comes down to the field at the end and moves the ball.

mwh6767

October 18th, 2010
8:52 am

I can settle. I can tell you haive never been to a uga football game. Its been a long standing tradition by uga students and fans alike to change the last line of uga’s fight song from “all hail to dear old uga” to ” and to hail with ga. tech”. Been to tons of games heard it with my own two years for 15 plus years now. It’s not called clean old fashioned hate for nothing. Both sides hate each other, both sides like to get under the others skin and both sides are just as guilty as the other. Take the red and black glasses off buddy.

Mike D

October 18th, 2010
8:53 am

Since when does winning 2 games over 2-4 opponents make you hot? I guess using that logic means about 70 teams in the country are as “hot” or hotter than ga.

ryan

October 18th, 2010
8:55 am

Mark-
Can you write an SEC column without blasting Meyer? UF isn’t any good this year (painfully obvious). It doesn’t change the fact that he owns Richt and the bulldogs. This blog is very similar to the “Georgia gives Gators warning” nonsense you wrote two years ago. A couple of days later your bulldogs were embarrassed 49 to 10. Of course you didn’t write a follow up. Just know that in two weeks I will be back to say I told you so.

dawgster

October 18th, 2010
8:57 am

i agree Murphy….get by kentucky will be tough, but if we do the gators will be waiting and i suspect you will see Trey Burton at QB and of course we know Rainey will be back in the lineup…i’m sure his punishment will be lifted by then..i mean he only threatened the life of a young lady…any other coach in this league would not have him on the team…i’m not saying he shouldn’t get a second chance…but as with Zach Mett…you just have to dismiss him and let him continue his career somewhere else…but one man shouldn’t beat us…and its time the dawgs take care of business in jax…but first up is kentucky and that is never easy even when we have very strong teams…go dawgs

Patrick

October 18th, 2010
8:57 am

you call this good journalism?
“Because the Gators are awful.”
Uga is “hot”
Then you say this–but neither the Wildcats or the Gators are any better than the Bulldogs
Huh? So the gators are awful. But Ga is hot. But ga fla and ken are about even.
Nice logical article.

Go Dogs

October 18th, 2010
9:00 am

meh

October 18th, 2010
9:01 am

I think UGA can win out. I just don’t know if South Carolina will lose 2 more. I can see Arkansas beating them but UT, Vandy, and Florida are looking pretty bad this year. But it is the SEC. anyone can beat anyone and any given saturday. Go Dawgs! let’s just keep on winning!

Chuck

October 18th, 2010
9:01 am

Mark, with all due respect, playing Tennessee and Vanderbilt in a row right now will make anyone look good. South Carolina gets the Commodores and Vols next. Watch how good they’ll look.

Ginger

October 18th, 2010
9:02 am

The Dawgs can’t think about standings etc….Just need to say focused and disciplined and work each week at getting better…Have seen some improved past 2 weeks….Some of the Dawgs i.e. Rambo and other defensive and offensive guys have started studying more film as Aaron Murray…Believe that if they ALL will continue to commit extra time to film study and learn their assignments very well that they will continue to improve –but it is a must as Kentucky will play well, then Florida, Auburn, Tech down the stretch…they must give themselves the best chance to win by studying extra and working very hard in practice.

dawgfan

October 18th, 2010
9:03 am

Mark,
We were just joking a couple weeks ago.
We liked him the whole time :)

Mark Bradley

October 18th, 2010
9:04 am

I’d agree that beating Tennessee and Vanderbilt is no great achievement. But the Dogs did beat two bad teams the way bad teams should be beaten.

Nick Esasky

October 18th, 2010
9:05 am

Mark Bradley jumps on and off bandwagons so much that it gave me vertigo.

gdawginkalamazoo

October 18th, 2010
9:05 am

I guess the best way to get the team on the road to recovery is to beat the teams that you are suppose to beat this year. The last couple of weeks have been good. Kentucky looked pretty sharp last week. Better be ready for them.

ryan

October 18th, 2010
9:06 am

The fact that Bradley thinks UGA has a good chance to win out proves what a homer he is. Respond to my earlier post you coward. You were wrong in 08 and you are wrong now.

SadDawg

October 18th, 2010
9:06 am

Mark, I’m not from Missouri, but I say to the Dawgs, “show me!” I believe the next two weeks are as important to UGA as two games have even been. Lose one or both, and Richt’s career will be shaky, and recruiting will suffer greatly. Win them both, and UGA is back in “prime time” with an enormous game at Auburn.

If I were Richt, I’d get Boss Bailey on the plane to Lexington somehow Saturday!

Because I’ve given Mike Bobo so much hell this season, I must praise him for a good job the past two weeks. He’s mixed up the plays well, and put Murray in the ‘gun a lot, which has led to the big point outbreak. I just hope he lets Murray keep his foot on the accelerator.

Go Dawgs!

Hey, mwh6767...

October 18th, 2010
9:07 am

…you are correct about the “change” in the UGA fight song, but those words are added for EVERY opponent now, not just Tech.

And, the original words in the UGA song, as you so eloquently point out, unlike the “Ramblin Wreck” song, do not include the words to which you refer, and the words to which I refer ARE an integral and ORIGINAL part of the Tech fight song. So, YOU LOSE, again….

Mark Bradley

October 18th, 2010
9:08 am

Jumping on bandwagons? I believe I was saying something similar two weeks ago when Georgia was 1-4. Take a look.

Gator Mike

October 18th, 2010
9:08 am

Mr. Bradley, for the first time I totally agree with you. UGA is getting better, UF is getting worse and So Car is somewhat unpredictable. At UF, Meyer has seemed to have lost his fire, and the offensive coordinator is succeding at becoming a buffoon. Additionally, I am not aware of any other college or pro team where the “O Coord” coaches the game from the sideline. How can he see the entire field. Additionally, Addazio “O Coord” appears arragant.
Coach Meyer is not the same and the players appear rudderless, but they are not criticizing each other “yet”. Meyer needs to decide whether he wants to be a football coach or pursue another vocation. We Gators are very appreciative of what Meyer has done for us, but neither he, the team, his family or the Gator Nation. deserve this ineptness. Sitting in the Swamp the last 2 weeks was not fun.
Unless things change drastically, the Dawgs will clobber the Gators on 30 Oct.
Go Gators.

Dawg House

October 18th, 2010
9:08 am

I know Tech fans………………

It’s weird isn’t it?? I know you cannot fathom the fact that UGA fans/students/alumni still LOVE their team!! I know you cannot fathom that UGA is still selling out their 92,746 seat stadium. I know you cannot fathom the fact that we remain optimistic about our season despite the horrid September we went through…………

And that, is the difference in you and us. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!

NYC Dawg

October 18th, 2010
9:09 am

It’s important that Georgia just focuses on Kentucky at this point. It’ll be much more possible if we can get to JAX at 4-4…

Know who looks stupid?

October 18th, 2010
9:10 am

Mark Bradley.

martin the calvinist

October 18th, 2010
9:11 am

Too much of a long shot Mark, UGA is playing much better but Kentucky will give UGA all it can handle, giving Florida two weeks to prepare for UGA and I expect them to be playing with their hair on fire, and Auburn, their defense is good enough to hold us to lots of field goals while Newton runs wild over us, remember, we can’t stop teams with running QB’s. I’d be happy with taking two out of three the out of those SEC games and winning our last 3 non conference games….that is if we make a bowl. If UGA is to win out, they’d have to continue to get better week in week out. I’d love them to do it, but logic has to interject some rational thinking.

gdawginkalamazoo

October 18th, 2010
9:12 am

dawgfan, the 9:03 post was hilarious!

joe

October 18th, 2010
9:13 am

UGA fans need to get a clue…beating UT and Vandy (both at home) don’t mean squat. They’ll lose at KY on Saturday to fall to 2-4 in sec, and Auburn for sure. You might get past FL, but I wouldn’t count on it…

Ted M

October 18th, 2010
9:13 am

It could actually happen. I would put the odds at 35%. Which is really high, but Auburn has had 4 really close wins and their defense looks worse than the Dawgs.

SadDawg

October 18th, 2010
9:13 am

Dang, Dawg house, that is so good! How many Techies would go to Grant Field for their hotdogs and cokes if the Jackets were 1-4? And the band and dancing boys don’t count . . .

dawgfan

October 18th, 2010
9:14 am

Florida truly is garbage. I said before the season started that all their showboating and classless play the past two seasons would come back around to them. Karma is a beeyotch. Meyer is an arrogant punk that thought he could mail it in this season and still get the job done. Its amazing to me how his little “leave of absence” never came up in any preseason analysis of this team. As for the players, I suspect they’ll phone it in from here on out as well. The bounces and yellow flags aren’t going their way anymore. They do have their usual convenient off week before the Georgia game, but that can sometimes backfire with a mentally fragile team. More time for them to stew about how unfair life is because nobody is cowering at the sight of the mighty Gators anymore.

Screw the SEC East standings. Screw South Carolina. Screw Kentucky. Screw Auburn. I just want to beat the trailer trash from Gainesville like a damn drum. That would make the season.

Thanks.

MURPHY

October 18th, 2010
9:16 am

dawgster,

I promise you this-You will see a much better Gaytor team in Jax than we have seen all year. Im glad we dont have a week off.We must keep our momentum going.I sure hope our D peaks in Jax.

SadDawg

October 18th, 2010
9:16 am

“… the Dogs did beat two bad teams the way bad teams should be beaten.”
*************************************
Exactly. And, Mark, how long has it been since UGA even accomplished that?

Ted M

October 18th, 2010
9:16 am

The Dawgs are gaining confidence. Murray is getting better and better. Beating UT and Vandy aside the Dawgs are definitely better then 5 weeks ago.

Jack

October 18th, 2010
9:17 am

Good teams don’t lose 2 games in a row. Ga lost 4. Nuff said.