However, it’s not every weekend that the Bulldogs’ faults are laid so bare for all to see. Saturday’s 51-33 humbling at the hands of now-No. 8 Tennessee has added some urgency to Georgia’s self-evaluation.
“You just have to look at everything from top to bottom and re-evaluate and see where you are,” Richt said the day after his team blew a 17-point lead. “There were plenty of issues across the board. The main thing is to evaluate exactly what happened in the game, evaluate what we’re doing, making sure we’re doing the right things and then make sure we’ve got the right people doing them.”
Georgia fell six spots to No. 16 in the Associated Press poll, and it is ranked behind state rival Georgia Tech (No. 13) for the first time since October of 2001.
The Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 SEC) will play Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-3 SEC) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in a game televised by Lincoln Financial Sports. The Commodores fell 17-10 to Ole Miss on Saturday.
After the Tennessee game, several Georgia players promised a turnaround. “Definitely, we’ve got to,” senior defensive tackle Ray Gant said. “We ain’t got no choice unless we want to go out losers.”
It was the defense that took most of the blame for the loss as the Volunteers outscored Georgia 44-9 in the final 31 minutes and became just the second opponent ever to score 50 or more points in Sanford Stadium.
“I’m sure (the defensive coaches) are mulling over what they did strategically and did the guys execute it properly and do they have the ability to do it,” Richt said.
Richt insisted Sunday that his team hasn’t changed its goal of winning the SEC Championship, and he pointed out that the Bulldogs have won their division three of the last four seasons with at least one conference loss.
“There’s not anybody I would think who’s losing heart,” he said.
Quarterback Joe Tereshinski, who started Saturday after missing three games due to an ankle injury, said it’s the seniors’ responsibility to pull the team together.
“Yeah, we have one loss, but so does Tennessee,” he said. “It’s early in the season and there’s lots to play for. The SEC Championship Game is still there. Some things might have tohappen later one, but it’s still early. We have to worry about ourselves.”
Tereshinski may or may not be an integral part of the solution. Richt was unwilling Sunday afternoon to say how Georgia would proceed at quarterback until he talked with the remainder of his offensive staff. Tereshinski was 12-for-20 passing for 164 yards, and he was responsible for three of Georgia’s four second-half turnovers.
Freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford played the final series of the game and was 2-for-5 for 11 yards and one interception.
“(Tereshinski) was about like the rest of the team,” Richt said, “some very good things and some things that weren’t quite so good.”
For the most part, Richt thinks Georgia has the right players in the right spot, he said.
“I’m not here to say I’m threatening a bunch of personnel changes and all that type of thing,” he said, “but after every game that’s really the process you go through.”
This, though, wasn’t every game.