Georgia is out of the Southeastern Conference championship race with three regular season games remaining. Florida’s 21-14 win in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday afternoon took care of that.
It was the Bulldogs’ 15th loss in 17 tries against the Gators, but, more importantly for this team, it marked the first time Georgia has lost three games in four tries under Richt.
“We’re not going to be talking about (the SEC race),” the sixth-year coach said. “We’re going to be talking about what kind of men of character are we, finding out do we really love the game of football. This is what we do, football is what we spend a lot of our lives doing. We need to do it with excellence regardless of what the goal is.”
This is the first time Georgia has been out of the conference race before November since 2000, Jim Donnan’s final season.
“We have to start over again,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “We have to keep plugging away and keep working hard.”
Georgia (6-3, 3-3) faces Kentucky (4-4, 2-3) on Saturday in Lexington, Ky., at 1 p.m. The Wildcats still are fighting for bowl eligibility while all the Bulldogs have left to play for is pride, but Richt isn’t worried about the Wildcats wanting the game more, he said.
“I think we’re all hungry for a victory right now,” he said. “They’re a much better football team than they have been, and their record is starting to reflect it. I would think both teams would be pretty motivated to win this one.”
Motivation won’t do the Bulldogs much good if their offense doesn’t improve. Georgia gained just 215 yards against the Gators, its second-lowest total under Richt and lowest under Richt in a loss.
“It’s real frustrating because we know what to do,” running back Danny Ware said. “We’ve been here three or four years. We’ve got a lot of experience on offense. We’re some times playing like we’re new at this. It gets hard sometimes.”
Richt’s initial analysis after the game was that his offensive line was the main culprit in the loss and a film review Sunday confirmed that.
“I think at times we got whipped,” he said.
The worst part for Georgia?
“We don’t have enough depth to do anything about it,” he said.
While the Richt searches for offensive answers, he won’t be worrying about losing his team, he said.
“The one thing about this team that I’ve never felt one little inkling of a problem is in regard to unity or togetherness,” he said. “They’ve done nothing but encourage each other, they’ve done nothing but fight for each other, they’ve done nothing but stay together.”
“There’s a lot of love on this team,” senior tackle Daniel Inman said, “and we’ll keep fighting.”