Georgia's Rivalry Win over Auburn Should Quiet the Mark Richt Hot Seat Chatter

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 14, 2015

Georgia head coach Mark Richt
Georgia head coach Mark RichtButch Dill/Associated Press

Somebody had to win the "Underachiever Bowl" between Auburn and Georgia on Saturday afternoon on the Plains, and it was the coach who needed it the most.

Behind a dominant second-half performance from his defense, Georgia head coach Mark Richt and his Bulldogs topped the home-standing Tigers 20-13 and earned their eighth win over their cross-state rivals in the last 10 meetings.

Anthony Dasher @AnthonyDasher1

Richt: "Everybody rose to the occasion at one time or another."

No, it wasn't the most dominating performance in Georgia history.

In fact, Auburn's inability to find a quarterback who could consistently complete forward passes played a huge part in Georgia's second-half defensive surge, in which the Bulldogs allowed just three points and 103 yards.

At this point, though, style points don't matter for Richt. He just needed something good to happen to his team in a big spot, and it did on Saturday.

As Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network noted on Twitter, simply calling it a "good" win isn't the proper way to describe it.

Paul Finebaum @finebaum

Significant win for Mark Richt.

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There's no doubt that Richt is going to have to evaluate his offensive staff after this season. The Bulldogs managed just 243 total yards against a subpar Auburn defense (94th in total defense) and have been unable to develop any of their quarterbacks, and Brian Schottenheimer's play-calling is curious at best.

Early in the second quarter, Schottenheimer called a toss inside the 5-yard line to running back Sony Michel—who has a hand injury—who fumbled and set his team back a few extra yards. On several occasions, Georgia's offense lined up in shotgun on 3rd-and-short situations that weren't converted. On the afternoon, the Bulldogs finished with just 243 yards and converted five of their 14 third-down opportunities. 

Schottenheimer must go, but Richt still has a chance to put together a solid year on paper.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt
Georgia head coach Mark RichtDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

His Bulldogs are now 7-3 and should be able to run the table and finish the regular season at 9-3. He could reach the 10-win plateau for the 10th time of his career and fourth time in five seasons.

And people want him gone?

At least with Richt, Georgia has a chance—even during rebuilding years.

That is what this is, and that's what should have been discussed this summer, despite Georgia being the preseason pick to win the division. The quarterback situation was clearly a mess—after all, Richt had to get Virginia's backup to come in as a stopgap, the wide receivers were unproven, the defensive line was young and middle linebacker was a concern.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn (left) and Georgia head coach Mark Richt (right)
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn (left) and Georgia head coach Mark Richt (right)Butch Dill/Associated Press

But Richt built some momentum for himself and his program on Saturday afternoon on the Plains.

His defense looked strong and paved the way for his second straight win. And it did so in front of players who, while on official visits to Auburn, could head to Athens and be a part of a class that should be one of the nation's best, according to 247Sports.

It's clear that a vocal (and perhaps growing) minority of the Georgia fan base and influential boosters are frustrated with "good, not great." Seth Emerson and Chip Towers of DawgNation.com even detailed specifics of that frustration two weeks ago.

To a point, that's understandable, once you get past the obvious fact that teams have to be really good and lucky to win national championships. 

Richt has the first part down and has missed out on the latter in his best years—like 2002, 2007 and 2012. 

With a defense like he has, a young offense and a class that should provide an immediate boost coming in, getting back in position to become an elite program isn't as far away from Richt as it looked just a few weeks ago.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.


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