The good times that surrounded the Georgia football program through the first five games of the season might seem like a distant memory this week.
Georgia fans aren’t talking “Gurshall” or “Grown Man Football” now. There are instead questions about why the Bulldogs looked so underwhelming in a 35-7 thumping at South Carolina Saturday night.
It was just one loss for a team that is still 5-1 at the season’s midway point, but with no game during this bye week, it will linger.
“I’ll bet a couple, well not a couple, a lot of the fans are pretty flustered and pretty mad,” freshman outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said Tuesday. “We let them down a little bit, but I just want them all to know we’re coming back strong and we’re not going to let that happen again. I’m definitely going to try to not let that happen again in my career here and to try to get myself better and my teammates better.”
Players described a quiet bus ride on the drive back from Columbia, S.C., after the game.
“We rode home in silence,” center David Andrews said. “I’ve been on losing teams and you ride home and there’s chucking and giggling. I think it says a lot about this team that we’re mature. …What’s done is done. We can’t go back and change the past. I wish we could play them again, but we can’t.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said on Georgia’s weekly radio show that he wished the team could have met Sunday “because there was still a lot of hurting going on,” when they gathered Monday for meetings.
Bobo was told by a caller named John who identified him as a long-time fan that he was embarrassed by Georgia’s showing.
“It was embarrassing,” Bobo told him. “There’s not any excuse that you could sit up here and say. We did not perform to our best and South Carolina came out and they whipped us. …I’ve been a Bulldog my whole life for a long time as a player and as a coach. I know a lot of people are disappointed.”
By Tuesday when they returned to practice, the players were ready to move on and make the most of the two weeks of practices.
“We’re not depressed,” Jenkins said. “We’re ready to get better. We lost. It’s on to the next one. Preparing for Kentucky. …We’re not going to let it get us down.
Defensive end Abry Jones acknowledged that players will “have to go another week hearing them talk about us losing that game” until the Oct. 20 game against the Wildcats.
“It won’t really be good until we get another win to replace that last game,” Jones said.
Coach Mark Richt, who wasn’t available for interviews Tuesday, said in a statement that he “was pleased with the energy and effort” of practice.
Offensive tackle John Theus said after practice: “That’s the thing about this team, we bounce back. The game’s behind us. Today was a good day. We came out there and worked hard.”
Theus said the game is behind the team.
“It’s over,” Theus said. “It was last week. It’s on to the next game now. You can’t reflect on it.”
Jones said he didn’t think Georgia was flat. He thought the team was ready to go, but he said simple mistakes turned into big plays against the defense.
“We lost to a good team,” linebacker Alec Ogeltree said. “We have to tip our hats to them. At the same time, guys are out here working as if our goals are still achievable even though we can’t go undefeated anymore.”
Tight end Arthur Lynch understands fans frustrations.
“Yeah, people will be upset,” said Lynch, from Dartmouth, Mass. “I’ve said some things about the New England Patriots that I probably wouldn’t say to some guys on that team. That’s part of becoming a fan when you’re emotionally invested in the football team or any organization.”
The open date offers a chance to sharpen fundamentals.
“This is a great opportunity for guys looking to play,” Andrews said. “It’s like camp a little bit over again.”
Except there’s already a loss on the ledger.
“There’s a long season ahead,” Theus said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Us as a team, we’re very focused. Our morale is still up. We’re ready to get back to work. I thought that showed today in practice. We had a good day of practice. We’re ready to get back at it. …We’re ready to finish this season up right, finish the season strong.”