Athens – As soon as his plane landed in Athens from Knoxville on Saturday night, UGA wide receiver Michael Moore made a plea to Bulldog Nation -– or at least to that part of the populace that follows him on Twitter.
He tweeted: “All I can say 2 the dawgnation is don’t turn your backs on us. That’s it. We need u to support us and times like this is when we need u the most.”
I asked him Sunday what prompted the post.
“It’s just what was on my mind. I’m always on my Twitter. I’m talking about everything,” Moore said. “And at the time I was just thinking . . . the negativity was about to start brewing and I didn’t want fans to turn their backs on us. So that’s just why I put it out there. I got a positive response from it.”
Moore said he was gratified by the supportive replies, which came in stark contrast to the frenzy of blistering comments on some message boards and talk shows in the aftermath of Saturday afternoon’s 45-19 loss at Tennessee.
“The way I feel is, we’re playing for the fans right now,” Moore said Sunday. “I know they’re getting beat up, [know] they’re torn up. And I just feel like we’ve got to put on a better performance for them.”
I tried to summarize Sunday’s fallout in this story, including Mark Richt’s comment about possible lineup changes and his call for improvement on offense, defense — and the coaching staff.
Here’s more from Richt’s late-Sunday conference call:
On whether freshmen quarterbacks Aaron Murray and/or Zach Mettenberger are far enough along in their development to play: “They could function with a certain percentage of what we’re doing,” Richt said. “It’s a matter of deciding whether you want to do that. And the other thing would be, how much can you do with them and how effective would a true freshman be at this point? Right now, my No. 1 goal is to put a team out there that has the very best shot at beating Vanderbilt on Saturday.”
On Joe Cox’s play vs. Tennessee: “I think Joe played better in the first half than the second half,” Richt said. “I think Joe took a couple of shots that might have shook him up a little bit, [although] he probably never would admit to that. If we’re going to be successful at quarterback, period, we’ve got to run the ball better and pass-protect better. ”
On Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin’s postgame comment that he considers Georgia the Vols’ most important game because of the impact on recruiting: “I don’t think there’s any question the . . . best thing you can do for recruiting is win games,” Richt said. “The more you win, the easier it is to recruit. Any loss hurts.”
On Moore’s comment Sunday afternoon that he wouldn’t be surprised if the coaches declare “open-competition week,” throwing every position open: Richt said they won’t go that far. “Guys are always fighting for positions,” he said. “[But] there is a reason we have got guys in certain spots; they have proved to be the best man for the job. Week to week, if a guy doesn’t get the job done, there is always the chance [someone overtakes him]. But we’re not going to have open tryouts or anything like that.”
One more thing about the defense: “When your turnover ratio is what ours is, we haven’t helped those [defensive] guys in any way,” Richt said. “But they’re still allowed to go three-and-out, too.”
Also: Richt said a decision hasn’t been made yet on whether tight end Bruce Figgins, who completed his six-game suspension on Saturday, will play this week at Vanderbilt. There’s a possibility Figgins will red-shirt. “We’ll have a whole lot better idea on Tuesday,” Richt said. . . . Richt said redshirt freshman safety Bacarri Rambo, who intercepted his second pass of the season Saturday (and returned it for a touchdown), will continue to get more playing time. He did not go so far as to say that Rambo will start. “We need to do more of a three-man rotation between Rambo and Bryan [Evans] and Reshad [Jones],” Richt said. “I think that will help all those guys.” . . . Richt said the most frustrating game of his career from an offensive standpoint was Florida State’s 13-2 loss to Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange Bowl. But he said Saturday’s game, during which Georgia did not advance beyond the Tennessee 34-yard line, “ranks up there pretty good” on the frustration meter.