The only bit of good news for the Bulldogs one day after a 24-20 loss to Kentucky was that Raley, the senior wide receiver injured in the fourth quarter against the Wildcats, returned home Sunday after one night in a Lexington, Ky., hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
“I talked to him this morning,” Coach Mark Richt said. “He feels a little stiff and sore, but he feels good and healthy. He has had a lot of tests on his head and neck, MRIs and scans, and everything has come out negative. Everything is checking out in a good way.”
That news leaves Richt to focus his full professional attention on picking up the pieces of a season gone awry.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but it is mind-blowing,” cornerback Paul Oliver said after the Bulldogs fell to 6-4 overall and 3-4 in the SEC.
Georgia has lost four of five games for the first time since 1993 and will try to stop the skid Saturday when it faces No. 5 Auburn in Auburn, Ala., at 12:30 p.m. The game will be televised by Lincoln Financial Sports.
“Have we been close this year to having a performance that could beat a team like Auburn? No,” Richt said. “We’ll see if we can conjure something up.”
The Tigers (9-1, 5-1) are Georgia’s oldest rival and have won five of the last seven games, including the last two, in the series.
“There’s no doubt that who we’re playing is going to help with the motivation factor, but I think also our guys still have some pride,” Richt said. “They still want to play hard, and they still want to show we’re a good football team.”
After the Bulldogs’ most recent humbling loss, Richt said he is “almost surprised” by the level of unity that remains on his team. On that front, it helps that every phase of the game is struggling.
The offense? Four turnovers against Kentucky, 14 in the last three games.
The defense? Another wilting performance with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
Special teams? Two missed field goals and a missed extra point by the now-benched Andy Bailey against Kentucky.
“I think as a head coach it’s tough to manage if one side of the ball is just doing awesome and the other is doing miserably,” Richt said. “I think some people lose patience with that a little more, but I don’t think there’s any questions that across the board there’s enough inconsistent play that nobody can think, ‘Man I’m doing my part.’”