ATHENS -- Georgia knows where it stands at this stage of the season.
Having been beaten soundly by Alabama 38-10 on Saturday, Georgia knows the margin of error is awfully thin. Another loss sets it back in the race for the SEC East, especially considering Florida is still unbeaten with four more conference games on the schedule remaining.
Therefore, this week’s game against Tennessee is much more important all of a sudden.
“That’s something we’ve talked about; that’s true,” sophomore running back Sony Michel said. “We really have no room for another loss. We’re not looking for another loss. I don’t think we’ll have another loss this season.”
Senior receiver Malcolm Mitchell said it’s important for the Bulldogs to forget what occurred last weekend. Mitchell said if the Bulldogs harp on the loss to Alabama too long, they can wind up positioning themselves up for another setback.
“You have to let the bad make you better, any way possible,” Mitchell said. “The worst thing you can do is let something that happened the previous week affect you in the coming week or the weeks to come.”
In 2014, Georgia responded well after its three losses. Having dropped an early season game to South Carolina, Georgia trounced Troy 66-0. Following its stunning defeat to Florida, the Bulldogs blew out Kentucky 63-31.
After being beaten by Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale, Georgia won the Belk Bowl against Louisville 37-14.
“You have to be calm and play football, the way we always do,” sophomore running back Nick Chubb said. “But every game is important now. Once you get that one loss, you can’t lose another to get where you want to go.”
Georgia head coach Mark Richt was quick to admit how bad of a loss it was following Saturday’s game. On Tuesday, he reiterated how much he understands the fan base’s reaction, which at times was harsh on sports talk radio and on social media.
After all, more than half of Sanford Stadium started clearing out with more than 10 minutes to go in the third quarter of Saturday’s game, when Alabama took a 38-3 lead. But when it’s all said and done, it only counts as one loss.
“That was enough of a game where it could have counted as two. But it was one loss,” Richt said. “And so that’s good. And when you get beat that way, it certainly gets everybody’s attention. I think any loss does. Sometimes if you lose a game at the last second, that may be more gut-wrenching than just getting whipped. Sometimes you get whipped, and we got whipped, (and you say), ‘Let’s go make the corrections that need to be made, and let’s forget about it and move on.’ ”
Mitchell said no one is feeling any extra pressure now that there’s a loss on the record. But Georgia can’t afford any lapses and likely must take care of business from here on out if it’s going to be in Atlanta for the SEC championship game.
“If we lose a game the next week, you can’t achieve the goals you set out at the beginning of the season,” Mitchell said. “That’s how it goes, definitely in the SEC. ... I think us losing the game and not getting where we need to be is all the motivation.”
A lot of players preferred not to bring up the memories that developed last weekend against Alabama. Included was sophomore safety Dominick Sanders, who said he has focused on preparing for Tennessee.
Georgia has just entered must-win territory and the message has been received it would seem.
“You’ll see a difference in this game,” Sanders said.