Shanks: Richt losing the Georgia fan base

sports@macon.comOctober 20, 2012 

The Kentucky Wildcats entered Saturday night’s game against Georgia with the 12th worst scoring offense and the 25th worst scoring defense in the country.

They had lost to Western Kentucky, a Sun Belt Conference team, and were blown out by Arkansas, a team that has been awful all season. There was not one stat you can find to show anything positive about Kentucky’s season.

And yet, when the game started Saturday, you would have thought Kentucky was the 11th-ranked team in the country.

Georgia once again came out sluggish, as Kentucky drove down the field and looked refreshed and like it was having fun. Georgia’s players looked like they had a commitment they didn’t want to keep, like a doctor’s appointment they dreaded but had to go to anyway.

It’s funny, really. Georgia has proven it can’t play well in big games. But Saturday night the Bulldogs almost didn’t show up for a game that you would have never thought would become a big game. This was a bad team they were playing, and Georgia made Kentucky look great.

There’s something wrong here. Georgia was up on Buffalo by only eight points at halftime in the season opener. The Bulldogs were actually tied with Florida Atlantic in the second quarter of that game. They won both games, but why did they have trouble with two bad teams?

There was the first half of the Missouri game, during which the Bulldogs didn’t look interested in playing. The Tennessee game was a shootout, when it probably shouldn’t have been.

And we don’t even need to speak about what happened in South Carolina two weeks ago.

It wasn’t just the beginning of the game for Georgia on Saturday. The Bulldogs looked sluggish to start the second half, too. They had time to go in and regroup at halftime, and instead, the Bulldogs were flat to start the third quarter.

They won the game, and that’s all the matters, right? But it was the ugliest win Georgia has had in a long time. The Bulldogs beat a bad team, and they had a hard time doing it.

Fans are tired of this. They believed this Georgia team was ready to compete for a national championship. The schedule set up perfectly, with only two tough games -- South Carolina and Florida. All Georgia had to do was win those two games, and chances are it was going to wind up back in Atlanta to play for the SEC championship game and be in the national title picture.

But the heralded Georgia defense is ordinary, and the lines of scrimmage are average, at best. Kentucky had the 15th worst rushing offense in the country entering the game. The Wildcats had averaged only 106 rushing yards per game, but they had 206 yards rushing Saturday night.

Georgia is just not a championship team or a championship program.

You knew it was bad when halftime rolled around. Georgia’s place-kicker, Marshall Morgan, pushed through a 27-yard field goal that hit the goal posts. Head coach Mark Richt ran into the locker room laughing, and when he did, the fans on the message boards hit the roof.

There was nothing funny to laugh about. Nick Saban wouldn’t have been laughing. Sure, Georgia was up by two points at halftime, but there was absolutely nothing to smile about.

The fan base was already on edge after what happened two weeks ago in South Carolina. They had to wait for two weeks to get that bad taste out of their mouths. And instead, the sour stomach lingered into Saturday night. This game made them absolutely nauseous.

Yes, it was a win, an ugly win, but the fans are still not happy.

Georgia now has to play the undefeated Florida Gators, who are feeling pretty good about themselves after their big win Saturday. If Georgia struggles to beat Kentucky, how in the world is it going to beat Florida?

This is on Richt. Yet again his team looked unprepared and flat. If he didn’t think the Bulldogs were flat two weeks ago, what will he think about this performance? Games like this can’t happen in the 12th year of a coaching regime. Time is running out for him, and beating Florida this week might not even save him. It might be too far gone.

When a win doesn’t even silence the critics, and when they are critiquing a coach’s facial expressions, you know it’s not a good situation. A win is a win, but Georgia fans are embarrassed about the way the team played Saturday night.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on Twitter@yahoo.com.

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