A sobering night: Georgia is outclassed and overwhelmed

Kind of indicative of the night itself, wouldn't you say? (AP photo by Brett Flashnick)

This forlorn shot is somewhat indicative of the night itself, wouldn't you say? (AP photo by Brett Flashnick)

Columbia, S.C. – Billed as a prove-it game, Georgia can only hope this was instead a case of false advertising. If the nation’s No. 5 team proved anything Saturday night, it’s that it shouldn’t be ranked that high, or perhaps at all.

South Carolina was primed to make a point. It took Georgia, which had averaged 48 points in its first five games, 58 minutes just to score a point here. To say the Bulldogs looked a step slow from the get-go is to suggest that “Ishtar” slightly underperformed at the box office. In the first 10 minutes, Georgia managed to get outclassed across the board — on offense, on defense, even on special teams. Not coincidentally, South Carolina had mustered three touchdowns before the visitors managed their second first down.

In a way, this recalled the infamous first half against Alabama in September 2008, the night the Bulldogs wore their black jerseys and trailed 31-0 at the half. But Alabama hit Georgia with a series of body blows. South Carolina was firing haymakers to the jaw: A 42-yard completion that should have been a Bacarri Rambo interception on the game’s second snap; an interception off a tipped Aaron Murray pass on Georgia’s third snap; two Connor Shaw touchdown passes to unencumbered receivers, and finally an outrageous punt return by Ace Sanders.

All the improvements Georgia has made over the past 13 months — or seemed to have made — were called into question in this wretched first quarter. South Carolina was bigger, faster, stronger, tougher and yes, better-coached. The Gamecocks knew what they wanted to do and did it with gusto. Georgia had no good ideas. South Carolina showed it could run the ball, pass the ball, stop the run and rush the passer. (And, lest we forget, return punts.) The Bulldogs could do none of the above.

Example: On Georgia’s only real threat of the first three quarters, Mark Richt chose to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal at the 2. Murray somehow completed a pass for one yard to Rantavious Wooten. “The ball probably should have gone to the [other] side,” said Mike Bobo, the offensive coordinator.

The talent Georgia had displayed against Missouri and Vanderbilt and Tennessee looked rather less impressive this night. Surely some of that had to do with playing on the road, but venue is no excuse for losing 35-7. South Carolina was ready, and that’s a function of coaching. Georgia wasn’t, and that’s a malfunction of same.

Even more distressing was that the big-name Bulldogs — Murray and Jarvis Jones and Rambo and the freshman backs — were rendered pedestrian by comparison. South Carolina’s offensive and defensive fronts exerted their will. The great Marcus Lattimore got all the tough yards. Shaw, who’s from Flowery Branch, made all the tough plays. The Bulldogs acted content to stand back and admire such excellence, and by appearing so passive in such a setting they left themselves open to all the old doubts.

Even in their division-winning season of 2011, the Bulldogs lost to the four best teams they played. This year they’d won five games without meeting anyone of real consequence, and this effort, if that’s the word for it, was so desultory as to make you wonder when, or if, Georgia will ever again beat anybody any good.

Surely they will. They’re too gifted not to break through against somebody. But a game like this made everyone who has attempted to paint these Bulldogs as smarter, tougher, better — and that’s my hand you see raised — feel a fool. When you’re beaten like this, there can be no disclaimers, no qualifiers: This was simply a horrid showing.

Said Richt: “I told the guys, ‘The bad news is that we took a whipping. The good news is that we all took it together … They whipped us pretty good.”

This was worse than the 42-10 loss to LSU in the SEC title game. Georgia wasn’t quite ready for such a game, and the Tigers were too good. But these Bulldogs were older and presumably wiser, and none of that wisdom was brought to bear here. And if Georgia, after all its staff changes and glitzy recruiting, remains incapable of competing on the big stage, whose fault is that?

Todd Grantham’s defense was superb much of last season but seems misdirected now. Bobo’s offense had run up boxcar numbers against lesser lights, but against South Carolina it had but 149 yards  through three quarters. And Richt, who’s in charge of this whole operation, used to be able to take teams anywhere and beat anybody. Where did that mojo go?

No, the season isn’t over, and yes, it’s still possible for this team to win the SEC East and play for the conference title. But the season changed Saturday night. Georgia was exposed on national TV as undeserving of its hype, and it can take a program a long time to recover from such an indignity. The Bulldogs’ ceiling got lowered here. When they arrived, we wondered how good they really were. We have a clearer idea now.

By Mark Bradley

1,090 comments Add your comment

BigDaddyGator

October 6th, 2012
10:17 pm

Hillbilly D

October 6th, 2012
10:19 pm

If there’s ever been a guy who has UGA’s number, it’s the Evil Genius. He’s been in their head for years.

RedHead

October 6th, 2012
10:23 pm

wELL SAID mARK.

Anyone who ever picks Mark Richt’s team, to win a a big game

IS A FOOL.

Richt is 2-14 against teams that finish top 25 since 2008.

OG

October 6th, 2012
10:24 pm

fIRE THE te coach, WE HAD 0 CATCHES AGAIN THERE, WHAT DOES THIS GUY DO TO EARN HIS PAYCHECK?

HIRE A SPECIAL TEAMS COACH

Hipster

October 6th, 2012
10:26 pm

UGA needs a world class staff.

Grantham? Not proven at the collegiate level as a DC.
Bobo? Nothing in his background qualifies him for this job.
Will Friend? Univ of Ala Birmingham, seriously?

No special teams coach?

This staff is not good enough to beat a ranked team. And never will be.

Hipster

October 6th, 2012
10:27 pm

gARNER, AND OLIVIDATTI NEED TO GO TOO.

BIG DOG

October 6th, 2012
10:27 pm

FIRE THE RICK,

0 – 10 AGINST TOP 20 TEAMS, SMH

BIG DOG IN THE HOUSE

Hipster

October 6th, 2012
10:29 pm

MCCLENDN’S RB’S NEVER PERFORM IN BIG GAMES. FIRE HIM.

WHOEVER COACHES THE TIGHT ENDS? NEEDS TO BE FIRED. THEY HAVE 5 CATCHES IN 2012.

LAKATOS NEEDS TO GO.

RICHT NEEDS TO GO.

THIS STAFF AIN’;T GOT IT.

George Stein

October 6th, 2012
10:29 pm

Rough night, dawgs. Pull up a seat at the bar and have a drink. I’ve already had several.

Hipster

October 6th, 2012
10:30 pm

ALL THAT TALENT.

WASTED!!!!!

Ken Stallings

October 6th, 2012
10:31 pm

Apologies to all for using this column for a non-themed issue, but I don’t wish to dig through the archives.

Mark Bradley, you wrote a column convicting Lance Armstrong in late August using the USADA as your sole source. You column essentially asked us what should we make of USADA’s case. Well, UCI has still not received the evidence that USADA is required to provide them. USADA made a lot of pompous statements that it (not UCI) had formally stripped Armstrong of all his Tour de France titles. But, as I pointed out, USADA has no such authority. Only UCI can do this. It would be like the NFL trying to suspend a MLB player!

Mark Bradley, read this linked press release from USADA: http://www.cyclismas.com/2012/09/usada-response-to-uci-press-release/

This press release from USADA is in response to UCI finally going public with their frustration as the ongoing delay (some believe refusal) in USADA turning over the evidence. Read the tone of this press release. Does this sort of press release from USADA strike you as the product of a fair and impartial body worthy of having investigative and prosecutorial powers? It reeks of a biased slander column!

Here is what a leading cycling magazine has to say on the issue: http://www.tsn.ca/cycling/story/?id=406221

One thing is common. Both UCI and USADA are saying that it seems USADA has not yet fully completed their investigation. So, why did they rush to a judgment? Why did they give Lance Armstrong a deadline to agree to an arbitration panel if that investigation was not yet complete? Mark Bradley, does this sound like proper legal procedure to you?

The more time goes by the more it seems clear why most people in professional cycling agree that Lance Armstrong could not get a fair arbitration hearing under any USADA sanctioned panel. In my view, Mark Bradley, this warrants another column. It is time that the American press take a second look at this story. The entire US media rushed to repeat the USADA assertions without fully accounting for the fact that UCI has the sole jurisdiction and without adequately accounting for the vendetta that USADA chairman, Travis Tygart, has had for Lance Armstrong for many years.

George Feeny

October 6th, 2012
10:31 pm

Richt will never win us a championship, which is why i say might as well go get a new coach and get the lumps over with

Under The Bleachers

October 6th, 2012
10:31 pm

Here Puppy Puppy Puppy!

Old Dawg

October 6th, 2012
10:31 pm

Richt should resign and forego his buyout after this embarrassment.

Groundhog Years

October 6th, 2012
10:32 pm

Maybe next year, maybe next year, into oblivion…

The Real Hairy Dawg

October 6th, 2012
10:32 pm

Tech would have beat us by 28 today!! Maybe we should just disband the football team?

BRADLEY

October 6th, 2012
10:32 pm

Talent against Missour? Missouri just lost it’s 3 game to Vandy.

SS

October 6th, 2012
10:33 pm

Whats really sad is most of UGA nation will come on here and try to defend this coaching staff… But now you have commentators on national TV exposing the UGA coachig staff. What a total embarrasment.

Jimmy

October 6th, 2012
10:33 pm

Mark,
You hit the dog on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.

PreyDawg

October 6th, 2012
10:33 pm

Braves, looked like dorks. Bulldogs managed to look even worse. After this weekend, the Falcons are doomed. I have no words. I get so sick of this. As a fan of Georgia sports teams you are not ALLOWED to EVER get excited about your teams. You are not allowed even a week of optimism. You are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Constantly waiting for a disastorous loss. And it always comes. Every single season for every single team. And it always will.

LakeDawg

October 6th, 2012
10:34 pm

Outstanding article, Mark. You brilliantly articulated the state of UGA’s program. I couldn’t have stated what I feel better. Fine piece of writing.

Keith Strawn

October 6th, 2012
10:34 pm

Mark, You get major Kudos for the “Ishtar” reference. This was the Dawgs gridiron “Ishtar”. What can you say? Hats off to Spurrier and the Gamecocks. They sure look like the real deal.

Say WHAT!

October 6th, 2012
10:34 pm

..lol @Maybe next year, maybe next year, into oblivion…

*{jj}*

October 6th, 2012
10:34 pm

Thanks Mark..You are so right…

80sDawg

October 6th, 2012
10:34 pm

Florida and SC are about to shoot up the rankings. UGA will be lucky to be in the top 20

Hairy Dawg

October 6th, 2012
10:34 pm

It like we took a dump in our pants when the game started.  And then we ran around whole game with it that way with never cleaning it out.  The players need to pay by running laps for soiling there pant like thats.

BC

October 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

Aaron Murray is the worst big game QB in the SEC.

Why in the world won’t Mark Richt bench this kid?

Murray compled 39%, 0 td’s, 1 int, 65 passing rating.

Hutosn Mason deserves a shot, if Richt EVER starts Murray in a big game again

Mark Richt should be FIRED.

Who would stay with a QB who is now 0-10 vs. teams that finish top 25?

Under The Bleachers

October 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

Everytime UGA is getting embarrassed Mark Richt does his “troop gathering” formation on the sidelines and that is suppose to show everyone he is in charge? Challenging his guys?

Either way that is a High School move.

I agree with Herbstriet…some of those guys quit and Rambo reverted back to who we all know he is , a cheap shot, hack player when they get down/

cloudodust

October 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

Jus’ WOW. I know it’s hard to hold up your head after tonight, but if the Georgia season is to rebound from this one, it better have a short memory. I’m no Gator fan, but they played a heck of a game today. USCe will be tested in the weeks ahead. I’d hate to be a Georgia player on the practice field in Athens this coming week.

*{jj}*

October 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

No please the police would go out of business…

TN Dawg

October 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

You can’t expect to continue to do the same thing and get new results. Hopefully, they will forget everything about tonight to get back on track to win the East. My question is why do we always have to lose an SEC game to get on track.

Scoop

October 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

The best line I read tonight tells the story. Swap coaching staffs- we win. There is a clear message

Raiderbeater

October 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

Georgia is like a cheating wife you wont divorce……just get ready for the next heartbreak!

BC

October 6th, 2012
10:36 pm

UGA doesn’t deserve to EVER BE RANKED AGAIN

UNTIL THE BEAT A TOP 10 TEAM.

T Dog

October 6th, 2012
10:36 pm

I have been reading all the fans comments about how Mark Richt needs to be fired for years now. Well after this pathetic showing, count me in. If Richt had any guts, he would quit tomorrow.

J clay

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

Mark – all true but how about a comment on the qb? He is terrible against good teams and has yet to beat one in 3 years now

J clay

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

Mark – all true but how about a comment on the qb? He is terrible against good teams and has yet to beat one in 3 years now

Jimmy

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

I’ve never called for a coaches job…

Until tonight.

Losing in big games like this is a pattern for Richt teams.

Time for Richt to go.

The Real Hairy Dawg

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

SC has a good D, and a very good line people; however, they barely beat Vandy and were behind KY up till the 3rd qtr. They ain’t Alabama. UGA was not ready to play. It looked like we had not practiced, had no idea who we were playing, and there wasn’t a game plan. It was terrible. Rambo caught the ball for SC and our receivers dropped it. Worst of all, I think a good HS line could have at least brushed clowney. The worst performance I can remember.

PreyDawg

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

First Braves, Now Dogs…the Falcons are doomed. As a fan of Georgia sports you are not allowed to enjoy a good season. You always wait for the catastrophic loss. You know it is coming at some point for each team, and it always always does. Always. And it always will. We can fire Richt, but the next guy wont do any better. Nor will the guy after that.

Raiderbeater

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

Richt embarrassed The University of Georgia in front of the entire nation tonight.

BrianT

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

Team is a mirror image of it’s coach….Time for new MOTIVATED blood…CMR gotta go….sad but true.

PreyDawg

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

First Braves, Now Dogs…the Falcons are doomed. As a fan of Georgia sports you are not allowed to enjoy a good season. You always wait for the catastrophic loss. You know it is coming at some point for each team, and it always always does. Always. And it always will. We can fire Richt, but the next guy wont do any better. Nor will the guy after that.

cloudodust

October 6th, 2012
10:37 pm

I think tonight we saw the repercussions of dicipline both on and off the field.

BjohnDawg

October 6th, 2012
10:38 pm

Istar?
LOL you are showing your age

Scoop

October 6th, 2012
10:38 pm

Other coach’s staff we win.

stevo

October 6th, 2012
10:38 pm

Watching the game made me want to vomit. Mark Richt should be ashamed. I am sick of wetting the bed in big games. We had Brent and Herbie for the first time ever and all they could say was this was the worst game they have EVER seen against top ranked teams in the SEC. PATHETIC

LakeDawg

October 6th, 2012
10:38 pm

What’s incredible is Muschump is now a better coach than Richt.

TN Dawg

October 6th, 2012
10:38 pm

How does Georgia put more players in the NFL than any other collegiate team and not win Championships???

MttPF

October 6th, 2012
10:38 pm

Gonna be even worse in JAXville.