Georgia (1-1, 0-1 SEC) lost four of five in the middle of last season before rallying to win its final three games. In comparison, a hiccup to start the conference schedule doesn’t seem as daunting.
“We certainly don’t want this one to last that long,” Coach Mark Richt said Sunday, “and I think our guys can draw from that.”
The Bulldogs fell 11 spots to No. 23 after the loss, their first to the Gamecocks (2-0, 1-0) since 2001 and fifth straight against Eastern Division opponents.
“We definitely don’t want to go down that road again,” tight end Tripp Chandler, “so hopefully we’ll figure it out before we get that far in trouble.”
Georgia plays Western Carolina this week at 1 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. The Catamounts are 0-2 after losses to Alabama and Eastern Kentucky.
A loss to the Gamecocks has been a bad harbinger for the Bulldogs in recent years. Since 1979, Georgia had lost seven times to South Carolina before Saturday. It won more than eight games just once and averaged 6.9 wins in those seasons.
“I’m not going to talk much about the conference race this week, especially because we’re not playing a conference game,” Richt said. “We’re going to work on continuing to improve and playing hard-nosed Georgia football.”
That process will not involve any changes in play-calling responsibilities. After watching film Sunday, Richt was more convinced than ever that first-year offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had a good game plan.
The Bulldogs had 341 yards but failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 2001.
“I can think of one, two, three, four, for sure plays that could have easily scored if we just threw better or caught the ball better,” Richt said. “It didn’t have to be spectacular play either, hitting your target (with passes) or catching the ball.”
Despite a 104-yard effort from redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno, Georgia’s running game wasn’t all good either. The Bulldogs managed 128 yards against a Gamecock defense that gave up 252 rushing yards to Louisiana-Lafayette two weeks ago.
And it was clear the Bulldog coaches didn’t have much faith in the run game in important situations. Of the 10 plays Georgia ran inside South Carolina’s 25-yard line, Bobo called for a pass on eight of them.
“I think we had plenty of opportunities to score touchdowns,” Richt said. “We’ve got to execute.”
Still, Richt knows Bobo will bear the brunt of the fans’ criticism after the loss. “It’s what coaches call a occupational hazard,” he said. “It’s a given.”
Richt doesn’t expect any significant lineup changes to come out of Saturday’s loss, he said.
“We’re playing some guys who are living through those type of games for the first time and sometimes that’s just enough to get you beat,” he said. “I do believe we’ve got the right guys in there and I know we’re going to improve in a hurry. We’re going to hit our stride here pretty soon I would hope. I think we’ll fare a lot better when that happens.”