It’s fitting that Mark Richt’s 100th win as Georgia’s head coach was, in the end, a tribute to coaching. It was his staff that made the halftime adjustments that led to a dominant third quarter which for all intent and purpose decided the game.
And it was Richt himself who set the tone for his team on the very first drive with the repeated calls to go for it on fourth down. It was clear he was determined not to see a replay of the uninvolved play that marked Georgia’s last two trips to Knoxville and the strategy worked.
This team played hard all night, something that’s getting to be a refreshing habit this season. The defense didn’t allow a third down conversion in the second half to a team that came into the game leading the conference in that category. The offense, led by a Greene-esque performance by Aaron Murray (h/t Barrett Sallee) and a banged up but tough Isaiah Crowell, didn’t turn the ball over and got the job done when it needed to.
In short, this team continues to morph steadily into the Richt squads of his early tenure. Take a look at where Georgia ranks nationally in certain key categories: 47th in scoring offense; 57th in total offense; 20th in scoring defense; 6th in total defense. It’s déjà vu all over again.
It’s especially remarkable considering where this team had to come from.
“After that South Carolina loss, people were throwing us out with the trash,” Georgia senior cornerback Brandon Boykin said.
I’m still not predicting greatness – after watching the ritual disembowelments Florida has suffered through the last two weeks, who could? – but I feel better about this team than I have in a while. And for that, all I can say is thanks, Coach. And congratulations.