Richt: "I don't know how good we are"

Mark Richt

ATHENS – Ladies and gentlemen, meet your Georgia Bulldogs.

Ranked 10th in the nation, but underdogs on their home field against a team they've beaten five of the last six games.

The top-ranked scoring defense in the land, but shaken by a sloppy effort against Ole Miss.

Unbeaten, but unsure of themselves.

"I don't know how good we are," Coach Mark Richt said. "I was feeling like we were coming right along as a team and then we hit these last two games, and I'm not sure we've progressed. In some areas we have, and in some areas we've regressed."

The Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 SEC) take on No. 13 Tennessee (4-1, 0-1) Saturday in Sanford Stadium. It's their first true test after a five-game stretch of patsies, and no one inside or outside the locker room knows if they'll pass it.

"You have to question it because we really haven't played up to our potential yet and you wonder if we can play up to our potential," linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler said. "We're kind of in a slump, and Tennessee's not a good team to get out of a slump on."

The Volunteers, who have beaten a top 10 team already this year, were 2.5-point favorites as of Tuesday and none of the Bulldogs can make a plausible argument against that betting line.

"There are some chinks in the armor," Richt said. "If we win this game, it means we've improved a lot."

Two weeks ago, Georgia was riding back-to-back shutouts, averaging 33.3 points per game and feeling much better about itself. Then came the Colorado game, which was written off as an aberration until Saturday's Ole Miss game.

"I would have to say that's my most disappointing win at Georgia," safety Tra Battle said. "We made a lot of mistakes that day. A top 10 team can't play that way or they won't be a top 10 team very long."

Georgia stressed run defense coming into the season after finishing 52nd in the nation last year. It appeared the Bulldogs' problems were rectified early on, but they have allowed 329 yards on the ground in the last two weeks.

"We feel like we're fortunate and lucky to be in top 10," Verdun Wheeler said. "There are a lot of questions in the air right now. We're going to try to answer them Saturday."

It's telling that Verdun Wheeler said "try." Very few, if any, players are making definitive predictions this week.

"All of us are wondering what's going on right now," he said. "We've got a powerhouse coming into our stadium, and we're trying to get past the powerhouse. It's going to be a struggle."

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