ATHENS -- Mark Richt said Sunday he had heard from about double the amount of people who normally congratulate him on a win. The Georgia head coach was particularly heartened that former players contacted him on the occasion of his 100th career victory.
As for which current players doused him with Gatorade after Saturday night’s win over Tennessee, Richt was still in the dark.
“But there’s a couple guys I might suspect who would do that,” Richt said on Sunday. “It was fun, I enjoyed that. It wasn’t a freezing cold night, for one.”
And for two, Richt further explained, it came in an important game. Georgia (4-2 overall, 3-1 SEC) is now tied for first in the SEC East, the good feelings having returned after the season’s 0-2 start.
Never miss a local story.
The Bulldogs will be favored to extend the winning streak to five at Vanderbilt. But they will have to do so without their leading receiver.
Freshman Malcolm Mitchell has been ruled out for Saturday after hurting his hamstring at Tennessee. Richt said the team was “hopeful” Mitchell would be back following the bye week, when Georgia has its annual showdown with Florida.
Mitchell is tied for third in the SEC with 22 receptions and has emerged as one of the team’s top playmakers.
But Georgia is riding its defense, which now ranks sixth nationally, 11th against the pass and 12th against the run.
The Bulldogs’ offense has been more pedestrian, ranking 57th out of 120 FBS teams in total yardage. Quarterback Aaron Murray missed on a few deep passes at Tennessee, but he didn’t throw any interceptions and still ranks third in the SEC in passing efficiency.
“I think he’s doing well,” Richt said. “We would have loved to hit a couple deep balls there. But other than that, I think he threw pretty well.”
Vanderbilt started the season with three wins, all at home, and has since lost two road games. Those were to No. 17 South Carolina and No. 2 Alabama by a combined 55-3.
The Commodores are now ranked low in the offensive categories -- 117th in total yardage, 100th in rushing and 114th passing and 111th in sack prevention.
But arguably a lot of that may have to do with playing the Gamecocks and Crimson Tide, two of the nation’s top 10 defenses.
As for Georgia, it may be back on the right track, but its win streak has come against an FCS team and three SEC teams that have yet to win a conference game.
“We’re getting there,” Richt said. “I don’t know if it’s one steady bit of growth in all areas, or some areas tend to do better one week. But I think overall we are getting better, we’re gaining confidence in each other. We’re still not to the point where we’re able to finish a team if we’ve gotten ourselves in position to do that. That was a big deal for us that we were hoping to do.”