ATHENS - A day later, Mark Richt wasn't deviating from his calm postgame approach after the Georgia football team's dismal performance at South Carolina.
"Sometimes you have a bad game, period," Richt said during his Sunday media teleconference. "You play and you run into a situation of a team (where) they're at home, they had some outstanding ballplayers, they put together a good plan, they grabbed momentum early, and fed off the energy of the fans. Sometimes that happens, and it happened this weekend. You hate to be the victim of it, but that's what happens.
"I'm definitely not losing confidence in this team at all, or our coaching staff or anything like that. That's the worst thing you can do. And that's what teams do, teams panic and they tend to fall apart. But that's not what Georgia's gonna do."
In the aftermath of Georgia's 35-7 loss, there has been plenty of fan criticism of Richt and the Bulldogs. The team is still ranked (No. 14 in the AP poll) and still has a realistic shot at the SEC East title. It was just the first loss of the season for Georgia.
"A year ago we're 0-2 and everybody wants to decide that the sky is falling and it's over for Georgia," Richt said. "But what'd we do? We stayed firm, we believed in each other, we kept banging away, we began to win and before you know it we won the Eastern Division. It's one day, it's one game, it's unfortunate it came out the way it did with so much at stake. But there's still a lot at stake as the season rolls on."
But it was also another high-profile flameout for the team. The Bulldogs are now just 2-8 in their most recent games against ranked teams.
Richt bristled when the performance of his team was assessed as "flat."
"I wouldn't say it was a flat performance," Richt said. "I would say that South Carolina just physically whipped us."
He also pointed to a moment early in the game when he felt the game could have turned: On the opening drive, when safety Bacarri Rambo had a long pass wrestled away from him, resulting in a completion. The Gamecocks took a 7-0 lead a few plays later.
"If Rambo holds on to the pick, and we turn it into points, then all of a sudden things are looking a lot different," Richt said. "So there's a lot of things that could've happened along the way. If we'd had protected better, or run-blocked better, or if we'd been more accurate, if we had tackled better. You know, all those things. I'm still gonna say South Carolina did a heck of a job, and we didn't get it done."
Also from Richt's Sunday teleconference:
- There are no plans for a major personnel change on the offensive line. The one possibility is getting sophomore Mark Beard more playing time at left tackle, which moves Kenarious Gates to guard. But otherwise Richt said they plan to go with who they've been playing.
"I know Watts (Dantzler's) ankle has been bothering him, so he really hasn't had a chance to truly compete," Richt said of the sophomore tackle. "But I still think we've got our best five in there, or at least our best six as we move that combination (with Beard) around. The big thing is we definitely have to acknowledge what happened, watch film of what happened, make any corrections that can be made. But the main thing is getting back to work and continuing to believe in each other, and coming back with a strong performance. That's really the best medicine that we have right now."
- Tailback Ken Malcome, who scored Georgia's lone touchdown, looked like he did when he ran with success against LSU last year, according to Richt. But that doesn't necessarily mean more playing time for the sophomore, who was supplanted earlier in the season by the freshmen tailbacks.
"Sometimes when a game is already pretty much been decided, how much heart is left in the defense ... so I don't know, I can't sit here and say how many starters were in the game," Richt said of South Carolina. "But Kenny's drive was a very positive one and one where he took advantage of the opportunity he got. And I was very proud of him."