Last Saturday was a difficult day for the Georgia football team, and head coach Mark Richt admitted it during the first hour of the Bulldog Hotline radio show on Monday night.

Georgia lost 27-3 to archrival Florida last Saturday, a win that practically sews up the SEC East title for the Gators. The Bulldogs were held to 223 yards of total offense, and did not reach the end zone in the loss.

Richt said the blame belongs primarily with him and his staff, saying, “I’m throwing us as coaches under the bus, because we didn’t do a good enough job.”

Richt admitted that plenty of things went wrong in the loss. Among them:

  • He said, “Offensively, there were a lot of times where we physically got whipped,” particularly on third-and-short. The coach admitted it was discouraging.
  • There were times when Georgia was in a position to make a big play, and the execution wasn’t there.
  • “A lot of little things, we’ve just got to do better,” he said.
  • “(On defense) the thing we did worst was just not keeping contain. … You’ve just got to do your job,” he said.
  • Richt also gave credit to Florida’s players for making plays.

According to Richt, the Bulldogs spent the first part of practice Monday watching tape of the Florida game. They made corrections, and then moved on to this week’s game against Kentucky.

Richt said the coaches and the players talked about handling adversity. The players decided they were going to fight; they weren’t going to run away. They were going to own up to their problems. And they were going to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

When asked what the Bulldogs will focus on this week, Richt said that, as coaches, you have to look at your opponent, see what they do and come up with a game plan that you think will enable the team to win. However, he added that ultimately it will come down to blocking, tackling and executing.

Georgia is playing an NCAA-high 22 freshmen. “They’re certainly getting a lot of good experience,” Richt said, adding that they’re like veterans now, as much as they’ve played.

Richt took several calls during the show. None of the callers were critical, but several of them asked about things the Bulldogs might do on offense.

One caller asked why Faton Bauta, who started the season as the third-string quarterback, was given his first career start on Saturday. Richt said Bauta “had been practicing well, and we felt he gave us the best shot. Obviously it didn’t work out. … We’re still trying to find the (right quarterback).”

Another caller asked why Bauta, a mobile quarterback, didn’t run the ball more. Richt answered that several zone read plays were called that could have been quarterback runs. He explained that in the zone read, the quarterback reads how the defensive end is going to play the ball, then either hands the ball off or keeps it. On most of Georgia’s zone read plays Saturday, Bauta wound up handing the ball off instead of keeping it.

On the Bulldogs’ first offensive play, running back Sony Michel took a direct snap from the Wildcat formation and ran for 11 yards on a play that was called back due to a holding penalty. Richt admitted that Georgia had planned to use the Wildcat formation more, but Michel broke a bone in his hand on the next play and couldn’t take direct snaps afterwards.

One caller asked why senior running back Keith Marshall hasn’t carried the ball more. Richt said, “I think we need to get him the ball a little more,” and implied that Marshall would likely see more action in future games.

An audience member asked why Georgia hasn’t run a screen play in a long time. Richt laughed, agreed that the Bulldogs needed to run more screens and implied that the coaches had discussed it on Monday.

Richt expects most of Georgia’s injured players to be back this week, except for the players who are out for the season (like running back Nick Chubb). Michel should be able to play, despite the broken bone in his hand. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins played against Florida, but Richt conceded that he wasn’t as effective as he could be. Defensive tackle John Atkins missed the Florida game due to a turf toe injury, but his coach said hopefully he’ll be able to play this week. Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie’s hamstring injury has healed.

A caller asked Richt if he thought the Georgia-Florida game would remain in Jacksonville after the current contract ends. The coach said he would be shocked if the game left Jacksonville any time soon. He pointed out that the game has been there a long time, and that both the Bulldogs and the Gators enjoy playing the game there.

Georgia (5-3) hosts Kentucky (4-4) at noon this Saturday, with the game being shown on the SEC Network.

Richt gave a brief analysis of Kentucky, saying the Wildcats have some good receivers and a good quarterback (Patrick Towles) who runs the ball well. He said he’d heard that Kentucky running back Boom Williams (a Georgia native, as Richt pointed out) hurt his elbow last week against Tennessee, and may not play. He said he believes the Wildcats will be fired up on Saturday.

Bulldog Hotline airs on Monday nights from 8-10 p.m. Hosted by Georgia play-by-play man Scott Howard, the show’s first hour features Richt taking calls from Bulldogs fans. The show can be streamed online at this link to Georgia’s radio broadcasts.