The only thing worse than the poor broadcast quality of yesterday’s Georgia v. Mississippi State game was the way UGA played. Both left me feeling nauseous.
From the shaky camera to the uneven effort on the field, it looked like amateur night unless you were a maroon-and-black fan. The perennial underdogs from Starkville had something to prove—and did they ever.
Mississippi State beat Georgia, 24-12, for the first time since 1974. UGA is alone at the bottom of the SEC with no conference wins. Even Vanderbilt has one.
The technically-challenged broadcast, via Fox Sports Network on ESPN's GamePlan, seemed to foretell the ultimate outcome for Georgia.
The TV screen went to blue for the first 25 minutes of the game. By the time the shadowy, pixelated images reappeared, Mississippi was already up a touchdown and Georgia was fighting to get out of yet another hole.
Unfortunately, they kept digging it deeper.
The UGA Bulldog blunders were plenty. For the third game in a row, they gave up a first-possession touchdown. As they scrambled to get points on the board, desperation turned to carelessness.
Georgia negated two touchdowns because of sloppy play—one a fumble, the other a penalty. Those 14 forfeited points would have given them a desperately needed win. Instead, they face their worst season start in two decades.
Washaun Ealey's first-quarter fumble felt like the South Carolina game all over again. He coughed up the ball just shy of the end zone. Amazingly, instead of jumping on it, he just watched it. Meanwhile, MSU’s Nickoe Whitley snatched it up for a touchback.
Perhaps it’s time to give Ealey a long rest on the sidelines. He has dropped the ball within arm’s reach of the end zone twice in three games. This last one was especially annoying because it seemed that Ealey did not even try to recover the ball.
Whether you think it’s a fumble or not, get the ball back.
The next fumble came near the top of the second quarter.
A punt by MSU took a bad bounce and went smack into Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo, who had a complete lack of situational awareness.
Richt went apoplectic on the sidelines when MSU recovered on the Georgia 45 yard line.
Along with turnovers, Georgia stuck it to themselves again and again with penalties. They racked up nine for 63 yards.
The incessant penalty problem has been plaguing Georgia for years and has cost them countless wins. This season was supposed to be different but a deficit of discipline prevails.
Despite the generally poor team showing, several Georgia players had a good night.
Aaron Murray continues to show poise and promise. Even though pass protection was inadequate for most of the game, Murray passed for 274 yards with no interceptions. He out-gunned MSU’s Chris Relf by 139 yards.
Murray also rushed for 32 yards, just four less than Ealey, including one inspiring sideline-stepping run for a first down.
Receivers Tavarres King and Kris Durham had good efforts. So did linebackers Darryl Gamble, Justin Houstin and Akeem Dent. Gamble got an interception that resulted in a UGA field goal.
Next week, Georgia limps into Boulder, CO to face a Big 12 team. The Colorado Buffaloes are 2-1 and had this week off so they will be well rested.
Georgia can look forward to having A.J. Green back on the field. They will need all the help they can get to regain some momentum.
During his post-game press conference, Mark Richt didn’t seem to have an answer for how to salvage the season.
A clearly defeated Richt was asked several times what he would specifically do to turn things around. The best answer he came up with was this statement: “We just gotta make sure everything we’re doing is the right thing to do and we’re doing it well.”
Georgia clearly isn't doing things right or well. It would be good to know Richt has a plan to fix it.
Got any ideas on what will it take to turn things around for Georgia? What would you do if you were Richt? Comment below.