Series Record: Georgia leads 49-12-2
It was a difficult thing to be the last one to talk with Joe Cox after Georgia was upset by Kentucky last season. The senior quarterback took the loss very, very hard.
"No one wants to be known as a loser," he told me after the loss.
Cox wouldn't go out a loser – he and the rest of the Dawgs stunned Georgia Tech a week after being upset by the Cats. But the hurt that stemmed from the loss to Kentucky probably still stings Cox to this day. That game underscored Georgia's potential and weakness at the same time. The Dawgs fought their way to what seemed like a commanding halftime lead before handing the ball over often in the second half. Then, with a chance to tie the game late, Georgia turned the ball over once more.
Fans were fed up. The Kentucky game wasn't on the defense, but if there was any doubt about Willie Martinez's future, that night in Athens sealed his fate. Even though Kentucky has come light years in football over this past decade under Rich Brooks, losing to the Cats is unacceptable for Georgia… and it had happened twice in the last four years. Brooks retired after the 2009 season – handing the program over to longtime assistant Joker Phillips. Kentucky will not be as good under Phillips this season, but they will still challenge Georgia and other East programs when they come to visit Lexington. The Cats still are not at the level of programs like Tennessee, Florida, Georgia or even South Carolina, but they have improved. Georgia needs to make sure they are not looking past Kentucky, to Jacksonville, when they travel to the Bluegrass in late October.
LAST TIME OUT:
Most memorable Georgia win: 1978 – Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! Rex Robinson kicks a game-winning field goal as the Dawgs pull a tough win out in Lexington at night.
Most painful Georgia loss: 1988 – In Vince Dooley's final season, Georgia is upset and taken out of the SEC race after a difficult loss to the Cats. Had Georgia won the game Dooley would have retired with a share of the SEC crown.
Player to Watch: Mike Hartline had much of the 2009 season robbed from him after he was injured against South Carolina. Still, the senior from Canton, Ohio is expected to be back in full form by the time the 2010 season kicks off. Hartline was productive in 2008 and 2009, but did turn the ball over about as many times as he threw a touchdown. His return to the Kentucky lineup will give the Cats' offense stability it didn't have last season.
2010's Big Question: Rich Brooks was a good thing for Kentucky - will Joker Phillips continue the same for the Cats?
Recruiting Implications: Very little. There are times when Kentucky comes to Georgia to pick up the crumbs left over after Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Clemson and others have their dinner. The fact of the matter is that Kentucky couldn't get the top player from Georgia if they had to, and Georgia could be in the mix for the top player in the Commonwealth if the situation were to occur.
Legge's must-win game for the Cats: at South Carolina on October 16th