KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Forty-five minutes after the game, Malcolm Mitchell was still so pumped over Georgia’s victory over Tennessee and his role in it he forgot for just a moment how bad his hamstring hurt.
Mitchell was buzzing from his first taste of Neyland Stadium. The freshman wide receiver from Valdosta led the Bulldogs with three catches for 126 yards, including a 71-yarder that turned to tide of the game for good.
“Third down is loud, boy; it was crazy,” said Mitchell, who leads the team for the season with 438 yards on 25 catches. “When we were backed up in the first quarter, you couldn’t hear anything at all. You’ve really got to focus on the signals because you can’t hear the quarterback at all. To come out with a win like this, we just needed it so bad.”
Mitchell’s 71-yard grab came on first down after the Bulldogs took over at their own 7 late in the third quarter. Two plays later Isaiah Crowell scored on a 17-yard run to put the Bulldogs ahead 20-6.
Unfortunately for Georgia Mitchell pulled his hamstring on the play and left the game for good.
“It happened right after I caught the ball,” Mitchell said. “I felt it pop. But it’s not that bad. They said I just need to get treatment every day next week and we’ll see where I am.”
It’s not likely Mitchell will play next week at Vanderbilt, however.
“We don’t think he just blew it up,” coach Mark Richt said. “He wanted to go back in. We’re hopeful he’ll be back by the Florida game. That’s what we hope.”
Mitchell also had a 43-yard catch that set up another Georgia score and Aaron Murray tried to hit him and other receivers deep several times in the game.
“We knew they were going to be in a lot of man because they were going to load up in the box to stop the run,” Mitchell said. “So we thought we’d have a chance on some deep balls, but we didn’t know we’d be that open.”
On offense, the Bulldogs inserted Chris Burnette at right guard and moved Dallas Lee over to left guard.
Burnette, a redshirt freshman from LaGrange, was a starter previously but missed the last two games with a knee injury suffered in practice the week of the Ole Miss game. He was unable to get any full-contact work in practice this week.
Gates has also been a starter all season but did not play well against Mississippi State last week. Lee, who filled in after Gates was lost to an ankle injury in the opener, has started at both left and right guard.
On defense, sophomore Chase Vasser got the start at “Will” outside linebacker. It was the third start of the season for Vasser. Vasser was filling in for Cornelius Washington, who was suspended for DUI following his Oct. 2 arrest for DUI and speeding. Ray Drew also played some, though he didn’t get into the game late in the second quarter.
Also, junior college transfer John Jenkins got his first career start at nose guard
More on Richt’s 100th
With the 20-12 victory, Richt registered his 100th career win as Georgia’s head coach. He is now 100-36 midway through his 11th season, including 58-29 in the SEC.
“The thing I love about the SEC is people understand how hard it is to win in this league,” Richt said. “It’s just hard.”
“To even coach 100 games, then all of the sudden you win 100. Well, it’s not me winning them; it’s a representation of a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of people, a lot of memories. It’s just like I’m about ti hit my 25th wedding anniversary. That’s a big deal.”
Richt becomes just the third coach in UGA history to reach the century mark, joining Vince Dooley (201) and Wally Butts (140). It took both Butts and Dooley 14 seasons to reach 100 wins. Overall, Richt’s teams are now 4-2 in Knoxville.
Junkyard Dawg bunch
during its current four-game winning streak, Georgia has out-scored its opponents 130-35. Tennessee’s touchdown with 2:45 to play was just the second the Bulldogs’ defensive has allowed in the last 16 quarters.
The Vols finished with 270 total yards, including minus-20 rushing. The Bulldogs had just two sacks but they were both by linebackers — Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard, and resulted in negative-31 yards. Gilliard led all Georgia defenders in tackle for the fourth straight game with 12.
“They’re gaining confidence,” Richt said of Georgia’s defense. “Coach [Todd] Grantham is gaining confidence in them. They’re gaining confidence in what we’re doing. I know I’m gaining more confidence in them. I’m enjoying a defense beginning to play like a Junkyard Dawg bunch.”
Tennessee ran just 11 plays in the third quarter and gained 11 yards
After passing on going for first downs on fourth-and-short twice against Mississippi State in the previous game, Richt had the Bulldogs go for it three times in the first half alone against Tennessee. Georgia was 3-for-3 after coming into the game 3-of-9 for the year.
“I wasn’t in the mood to go for it on fourth down last week,” Richt explained. “I didn’t like what we had prepared at that moment. I was also trying to get that game to 21 points at that time, too. This week we did a good job of putting a plan togethetr and I so I was more decisive because I had more faith in what we were doing.
Etc. . . .
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray suffered a broken thumb in the fourth quarter and is expected to be out four to six weeks. The Vols have LSU, Alabama and South Carolina in their next three games. . . . Georgia’s Branden Smith got his first offensive action of the season. The junior cornerback had two rushes for 19 yards and caught a pass for no gain. He subbed for Isaiah Crowell and, with both wearing No. 1 jerseys, it confused Tennessee announcers. . . . Tennessee sophomore receiver Da’Rick Rogers had five catches for 71 yards. . . . Safety Shawn Williams blocked an extra point for Georgia. . . . With two field goals, Blair Walsh now has 63 in his career. That’s most of any active kicker and eighth in SEC history.