A nervous night in Kentucky: UGA wins but doesn’t impress

Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch scores the touchdown that would be the winner. (AP photo)

Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch scores the touchdown that would be the winner. (AP photo)

Lexington, Ky. – Georgia got a gift Saturday afternoon. Florida beat South Carolina, re-opening the door to SEC championship game for the Bulldogs, who had lost to the Gamecocks by four touchdowns two weeks ago. This should have spurred the recipients to make light work of a Kentucky team that’s bad even by Kentucky standards, but Georgia was in a re-gifting mood.

The Wildcats entered the game ranked last in the SEC in rushing offense and next-to-last in total offense. The benevolent Bulldogs allowed Kentucky to move the ball, which was surprising, and score a quick touchdown, which was stop-the-presses stuff. Not since November 2010, or 20 games ago, had the ‘Cats managed a first-quarter offensive TD. And now here was Georgia, with all its NFL prospects minus the injured Jarvis Jones and with its $825,000 defensive coordinator, making a 1-6 opponent look like a real team.

It took Georgia the entire half to take the lead, and then only just. Marshall Morgan, who’d earlier missed the tying extra point, banked a 27-yard field goal off the right goalpost. The Bulldogs repaired to their locker room up 16-14 in a game they were favored to win by four touchdowns, and right about here Bulldog Nation was a-dither not over the go-ahead kick but over the prospects of heading to Jacksonville to face the raging Gators with a talented team that hasn’t lately played to its talent.

Yes, we could go the comparative-score route and note that South Carolina, which beat Georgia 35-7, had trailed the Wildcats 17-7 here at halftime. But this was a band of Bulldogs coming off a bye week after an unenthusiastic effort — is that an oxymoron? — in Columbia, and this could have been a night for Georgia to remind us that it’s still a force. Instead it reminded us that it’s still Georgia, which is to say weird.

“We definitely didn’t play as well as we wanted in all facets of the game, ” quarterback Aaron Murray said.

It wasn’t as if the Bulldogs turned the ball over a half-dozen times. Indeed, they didn’t turn it over at all. They gained 504 yards — 427 of them passing; Murray had a career night — but could manage only three touchdowns through three quarters. (Arkansas scored seven touchdowns against Kentucky in 35 minutes last week.) And the defense did get better in the second half, right up until the point where it watched the Wildcats drive 75 yards to a touchdown after Georgia had taken its 29-17 lead.

The Bulldogs had punted while leading 22-17 with 11:10 remaining when they received the day’s second-biggest gift. Kentucky was called for running into Collin Barber. Replays indicated that Barber brought his leg down on the rushing Wildcat’s shoulder. Georgia took the resulting first down and drove to what seemed the clinching touchdown but wasn’t.

The night’s biggest play was made by a Bulldog wearing No. 11, and he wasn’t Aaron Murray. Safety Connor Norman dove to snatch an onside kick away from waiting Wildcat Joe Mansour inside the final four minutes. If not for that bit of hustle, an unconvincing victory might have been something far worse.

Give Georgia this much: It won on the road in the SEC. But what does it say when you’re seven games into a season and your best showing is against Vanderbilt? When you allow an opponent that lost 49-7 last week at Arkansas — and that in a game that was called with five minutes left in the third quarter due to lightning — to enter this fourth quarter with a real chance to win? When a team with so much potential invariably leaves us wanting more?

“Know what? I’m happy with the victory,” Mark Richt said. “We’re 6-1. That’s not bad.”

And it is. Let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture: If Georgia beats Florida, the Bulldogs will be positioned to win their second consecutive division title and play Alabama or LSU (or Mississippi State?) for the SEC championship. Win in Jacksonville and nobody will care that Georgia struggled to win in a Commonwealth Stadium that wasn’t close to capacity. But in the here and now, this wasn’t a performance that will turn Bulldog doubters into Bulldog believers.

Maybe such a game awaits in Jacksonville. Then again, we’ve thought that before, and lately we’ve almost always been wrong. Maybe this strange team is the one that will finally get it right. Maybe, I said.

Further reading: On Georgia’s good offense, patchy defense and weary coach.

By Mark Bradley

381 comments Add your comment

Herschel Talker

October 20th, 2012
11:38 pm

FIRE MARK RICHT!!!!

WE HAVE ENOUGH TALENT TO HAVE BEATEN THESE LOSERS BY 5 TDS. WHAT A JOKE!!!

FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!! FIRE MARK RICHT!!!

George Stein

October 20th, 2012
11:38 pm

Watch ‘em win in Jacksonville.

Mark2

October 20th, 2012
11:40 pm

PATs are a real adventure..Just dont get it.

Bryan G.

October 20th, 2012
11:40 pm

We may not have lost, but for the second game in a row we looked lost.

1969 Graduate

October 20th, 2012
11:41 pm

Maybe is right.

Mark2

October 20th, 2012
11:41 pm

We got em right where we want em.

CigarDawg

October 20th, 2012
11:42 pm

Another unimpressive showing against an unranked team. Florida is going to eat us alive next week.

Mark Bradley

October 20th, 2012
11:42 pm

I don’t think it’s impossible that Georgia wins next week. Florida has had two really big games in three weeks. Georgia has had two weeks off, sort of.

Kingdaddy

October 20th, 2012
11:43 pm

Go Dawgs. Do not give up…

Half Century Dawg

October 20th, 2012
11:44 pm

Simply put, my Dawgs suck. They do not plaay with any intensity at all. I sure hope they show up for Florida.

George Stein

October 20th, 2012
11:45 pm

It would help UGA if #29 was healthy next week. Perhaps I’ll change my handle to Captain Obvious.

Glory Between the Hedges

October 20th, 2012
11:45 pm

COACH RICHT YOU HAD 2 WEEKS TO GET THIS TEAM READY ,WE LOOKED AWFUL !!!!!!!!ITS TIME FOR YOU TO LEAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

joe

October 20th, 2012
11:46 pm

you know what we need to fire this coach a remark like he made after this showing is disgusting you know what? This bunch of losers is 6_2 after fla beats our butts sat maybe that will be enough to get this bunch fired know what? That would be great I

SSIgator

October 20th, 2012
11:46 pm

Kingdaddy

October 20th, 2012
11:47 pm

I know how to fix the PATs, just get a couple of penalties and back him up about 10-15 yards. He’s OK with FGs…

1969 Graduate

October 20th, 2012
11:47 pm

Maybe we can beat Florida.

Actually, I believe it is possible for us to beat Florida.

You know how we think about Kentucky. It’s not that Kentucky can’t beat us. Kentucky can beat us. They do beat us. They almost beat us tonight. Kentucky doesn’t beat us often enough for us to consider them much of anything other than a game we’re supposed to win, and usually do win, and would be really embarrassed not to win.

That’s probably how Florida thinks about us.

Maybe we can beat them. If we do a huge amount of credit will go to our coaching staff. If we don’t a huge amount of blame should go to our coaching staff as well.

Hey, coaches, good luck with Florida. You’re going to need it. Those guys are looking like a real team with real coaches.

Maybe.

Rick

October 20th, 2012
11:49 pm

Correction Mark, Florida played Vandy last week so they haven;t had “two really big games in a row.”

VaDawg

October 20th, 2012
11:50 pm

Like coach, like team. Just saying.

The realist

October 20th, 2012
11:50 pm

Pick any legitimate high school coach in this state and ask him to react after a game like this. You know what he’d say? “We better get back to work because if we play like this again we’re going to get beat.” Instead we get, “Yea, hey guys we’re 6-1. Whoopee.” Richt’s like a YOUTH coach.

azdawg

October 20th, 2012
11:50 pm

the only maybe I see is maybe FL will score 50 points in the first half!!!!!!!!! this ga def stinks to high heaven. murray won’t have the time to throw the ball against FL. It’ll be the same scenario as the SC game. he just won’t have the time and will turn it over or get sacked. they wpon’t be able to run the ball either. it’ll be one of the worst a$$ kickings FL gives GA. i’ve lost all confidense and hope in this entire coaching staff along w/these over rated players. all americans my arse. the entire program is OVER RATED. shame on mcgarity. he should be fired along w/the rest of them for allowing this to go on year after year. we’re all fed up w/it.

Dawg Whisperer

October 20th, 2012
11:51 pm

UGA is playing like a woman in menopause. What now????

T-Dawg

October 20th, 2012
11:51 pm

We win on talent alone. When this team needs a game-plan, we lose. The only thing that would make me feel like this team is not below average is if CMR came out and said they never even looked at game film of Ky because they went ahead and intentionally looked ahead to the FL game. Western KY ran for 160 yards on this team.

Mutley

October 20th, 2012
11:52 pm

Guess what Will Muschamp is going to do to Mark Richt. He is going to give him a good old fashioned “Ray Goff humilation beatdown.”

oh brother!

October 20th, 2012
11:52 pm

I miss Donnan and Quincy Carter.

VaDawg

October 20th, 2012
11:53 pm

Maybe we will come out in black uniforms next week!! That will get them fired up!

Dawg Whisperer

October 20th, 2012
11:54 pm

Cold, hot, night sweats… I’ve seen this before.

socal_ugadawg

October 20th, 2012
11:54 pm

Not feeling confident at all heading into the Florida game. D has shown little to no progress. Another effort like that…

Matthew

October 20th, 2012
11:54 pm

I like Richt,want him to succeed,but this is becoming a habit. It seems to me the defense looks confused and Grantham bears a lot of what’s going on. Player’s are constantly out of position to even make a play on the ball. Like Murray said about South Carolina’s D. They just line up their guys and play. Our talent level is almost right there with USC on defense. Where are the results ? Maybe try and just line up play with our athletes sometimes Todd ? Just maybe ?

just sayin

October 20th, 2012
11:54 pm

Maybe CMR can sing happy birthday to some more recruits this week

John Sterling

October 20th, 2012
11:55 pm

Ballgame OVER!

American League Championship Series OVER!

Yankees Season OVER!

Yankees Bandwagon-Jumping Fanbase OVER!

Derek Jeter Career OVER!

Alex Rodriguez in New York OVER!

George Steinbrenner Legacy OVER!

Yankees Lose!

Thuh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh…

YANKEES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LOSE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

———————–

(Oh, and Kentucky lost on Saturday Night, too.

Game 5 of the ALCS was supposed to be on Saturday Night.)

oh brother!

October 20th, 2012
11:55 pm

Our D talent is much higher than South Carolina…legitimate 7 NFL players. Grantham is an NFL guy…can’t adjust to running QB. That does not happen very much in the NFL.

Blame NFL

October 20th, 2012
11:56 pm

I thought winning was suppose to fell good? This did not feel very good.
I do think we can beat auburn and southern….

Athens

October 20th, 2012
11:56 pm

A better UGA team willl show up next week in Jax, but until we get more disciplined not to be drawn into the personal fouls, we will have no chance…

The realist

October 20th, 2012
11:56 pm

I’d rather CMR sing “Happy Trails”

Thomas Dimitroff is a moron

October 20th, 2012
11:57 pm

If this was the Falcons, AJC writers would be talking of UGA’s toughness in a tight game!

Richt can’t outwit any coach with his sleepy motivational tricks

oh brother!

October 20th, 2012
11:58 pm

i liked kentucky’s uniforms…very blue

SSIgator

October 20th, 2012
11:58 pm

Get ready for another “storm the field” moment, but this time it will be the UGA fans going after the UGA coaching staff in Jax.

oh brother!

October 20th, 2012
11:59 pm

it does fell good…just does not feel good.

Ryder

October 20th, 2012
11:59 pm

UGA can’t stop the run, end of story. Ergo, expect Driskel and Gillisee to combine for at least 200 yards rushing and the Gator defense to smash Murray. FLA wins 31-3, and that’s only because Muschamp calls off the dogs (literally) in the 2nd half.

BILL KING

October 21st, 2012
12:00 am

JUST WIN BABY !!!!!!!!!!!

HIVPositive

October 21st, 2012
12:01 am

Don’t read too much into this article. Mark Bradley, was the same guy who praised Paul Johnson for being a “genius” coach. LOL, that “genius” coach lost to Middle Tennessee.

JRW7

October 21st, 2012
12:01 am

We won, but we won ugly, no defense, DAWGS have to be the worst looking 6-1 team in college football! Maybe we can beat the Gators, but our defense has to play much better! Is CTG the right DC for UGA?

John Sterling

October 21st, 2012
12:01 am

Nick Saban = The New “George Steinbrenner” of Athletic Excellence

Mark Richt = The New “Bobby Valentine” of Fulfilling Potential & Consistency

Congratulations Dawgs

October 21st, 2012
12:02 am

I HATE ALL YOU HATERS!!!!!!! GO AWAY YOU GT IDIOTS.

This Georgia team is the best team in the country. We got cheated in South Carolina by the refrees. We can beat any team we play and have played, we just can’t win if old uncle Slive is making a call and the 5 refrees are against us the whole time. If we’d gotten past USC, we’d be #1 as we have a tougher schedule than inbreds at Alabooner.

It’s that simple. We were cheated. This is the greatest team in the country, we are headed to the National Championship, book your tickets and your hotels, just book it.

I’m so sick of this stupid no nothing AJC living worthless crap from dawg fans and everyone that hates us. We simply have the best coach, Heisman QB, best defensive coordinator, best defense, and running back tandem in the country.

GO DAWWWWGS!

somethin smells at AJC

October 21st, 2012
12:02 am

We six and one and that’s a good number..ha He better have excuse for lost vs south carolina they lookin bad when Gamesucks have lost bad to gators on CBS..wait till Jacksonville if we some how pull off victory Richt will say…I proud of these boys they did a great Job in are win today it was sloppy playin here But we won and now we just win Play alabama in SEC championship….Get started after half time be 54-0 Tide ..aarron Murray will look like a GT quarterback lost BoBo will call stupid plays..the defense will melt…..espn will gloat and Mark Richt will say we Played alabama tough all game some bad luck here and couple of fumbles crowell rush for 213 yards …You remember he use be here but richt kick off team….as in mettenburg and fast you say …Oops we done!

oh brother!

October 21st, 2012
12:02 am

We can’t afford to buy out Richt’s and Grantham’s contracts now that we have extended and increased them. 4 more years at least.

Ford Truck Buyer

October 21st, 2012
12:02 am

Georgia Saturdays…so inconsistent.

oh brother!

October 21st, 2012
12:04 am

Georgia Saturdays are built Ford Tough. I had a ford once…biggest piece of junk ever!

The realist

October 21st, 2012
12:05 am

Can’t run the ball and can’t stop the run. Great combo. Some of you UGA fans are delusional.

bad coaching

October 21st, 2012
12:06 am

Mark Richt is one of the top 5 paid coaches. He can’t even beat a ranked team. UGA deserves better. The dogs have put more players in the NFL than Alabama in the last ten years. The difference is coaching. Richt has gotten complacent. Its time to make a change.