Georgia coach Mark Richt is trying to stay positive despite his Bulldogs scratching their heads over Saturday’s devastating loss to Auburn that eliminated any hope of playing in a third straight SEC title game. (Reuters)
ATHENS — The line between winning and losing is razor thin, as demonstrated so well by the Georgia Bulldogs not only at Auburn on Saturday but really all season.
A desperation pass deflected off the hands of Georgia defensive back Josh Harvey-Clemons and into the hands of Auburn’s Ricardo Louis for one of the most unlikely winning touchdown passes in the 117-year-old rivalry. So instead of celebrating one of the greatest comebacks in school history and still battling for a third straight appearance in the SEC Championship game, Georgia (6-4, 4-3 SEC) is picking up the pieces and trying to get up for its home finale against a struggling Kentucky team (2-8, 0-6).
“We need to be able to bounce back,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said on his Sunday teleconference call with reporters. “Kentucky had a tough loss, too. So both teams will have to shake it off and get ready to compete. That’s the nature of the the game of football or competitive sports period. You lose and you’ve got a game the next week or the next day, depending on the sport. Sometimes you’d like to have a baseball schedule after one like that so you go ahead and play the next game a little faster than having to wait a week.”
Saturday’s loss was like a lot Georgia has had this season in that the Bulldogs’ offense put up 532 yards and 38 points and still lost. The Bulldogs’ defense actually played pretty well in the second half. With the exception of the 73-yard game-winning TD, they allowed Auburn just 166 yards after halftime.
But the Tigers ended up with 566 yards and 43 points for the game. That’s the seventh time this season Georgia has allowed 30 or more points in a game and the third time more than 40. The Bulldogs are now allowing 386.9 yards per game, which if it plays out would be their worst average for a season since 1994. Georgia’s allowing 30.2 points per game, which well out-paces the program worst of 25.9 per game given up in 2009, the final year of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez’s tenure.
Richt was asked Sunday what his level of satisfaction was with the job Georgia’s defensive staff has done this season.
“Here’s what I say: I say we’re a team here at Georgia and we’re going to keep coaching and keep trying to make improvements and corrections in everything we do and in all phases of the game,” he said.
Asked the same question in a different way, Richt stuck to his script: “The bottom line is at Georgia we’re a team and we win together and lose together. We’re always watching film after every game to make sure we make corrections on offense, defense and special teams.”
As is his personality, Richt tried to steer the discussion back to the positives from the game. The most notable of those was the work of quarterback Aaron Murray, who will play his final home game on Saturday.
“Murray played fantastic,” Richt said. “Really a super job to lead our offensive team back and getting the score back to 38-37. Our defense had to get some stops to get it there as well. So the team as a whole really played well.”
Richt confirmed that tight end Jay Rome is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a sprained right foot.