The best teams on Georgia’s schedule may now be in the past.
The Bulldogs certainly hope their best football is still ahead.
Georgia takes an 0-2 record after losses to Boise State and South Carolina — ranked No. 4 and No. 11 this week — into Saturday’s 1 p.m. home game against Coastal Carolina.
After two nationally televised games, the Bulldogs play on pay-per-view against an FCS opponent.
“I’d just like to see us to continue to progress like we have,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team lost a wild 45-42 game Saturday to the Gamecocks. “I think we’ve really made a lot of improvement since the first game. The second game there were some errors certainly, but the two things were continuing to do is playing extremely hard and with a lot of energy and playing physically.”
Georgia is 15-15 in its last 30 games and 2-10 in its last 12 games against ranked opponents, but Richt said the Bulldogs will still be a factor in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division race.
“I think the Eastern Division is going to be decided way down the road, and I think we’re going to be right in the middle of it,” Richt said. “I think everybody needs to wait and see what happens because I think we’re going to become an outstanding football team before it’s over.”
Georgia is the only team from a BCS conference that’s played two ranked opponents the first two weeks.
“I guess you get some kind of prize for that,” Richt said. “We learned some things, but hopefully we learned enough to start getting on a winning streak here.”
East Carolina from Conference USA also lost to a pair of top 12 teams: South Carolina and Virginia Tech. Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt lost to ranked teams Florida and Michigan State.
Georgia’s conference schedule ahead avoids any of the top-15 SEC West teams: No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 LSU or No. 14 Arkansas.
The only ranked teams left on the schedule are No. 25 Mississippi State on Oct. 1 in Athens, No. 16 Florida on Oct. 29 in Jacksonville and No. 21 Auburn in Athens on Nov. 12.
Richt on his TV show Sunday asked the fans “to support us,” after the program’s first 0-2 start since 1996.
South Carolina scored its most points ever against Georgia, but the Gamecocks got two defensive touchdowns, another on a fake punt and another set up by a 56-yard fumble return.
“You’re going to make mistakes, but it’s unfortunate that our mistakes were huge, huge mistakes,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
After watching the tape, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday the Gamecocks “were fortunate to win the game.”
Quarterback Stephen Garcia completed 11 of 25 passes for 142 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown.
“Georgia had a good scheme of things,” Spurrier said. “I’m going to tell you what, their defense played well. They covered, covered pretty well. We just went up against a team that had pretty good athletes, covered well and we didn’t hit much.”
South Carolina got 176 rushing yards from Marcus Lattimore on 27 carries. Lattimore rushed for 96 yards on 13 carries in the fourth quarter.
“Marcus had a super fourth quarter,” Spurrier said. “We had some good blocking on that little sweep play at the end there and some other plays. We’re a running team. Ain’t no question about it.”
Notes: Coastal Carolina is 2-0. The Chanticleers beat Furman 30-23 and Catawba 20-3. The school is located in Conway, S.C., near Myrtle Beach … Bulldogs offensive guard Kenarious Gates (ankle) should play Saturday, Richt said. “We’ll have to figure out how we’re going to roll that thing around,” Richt said. Gates will have to compete to start at guard with Dallas Lee and Chris Burnette, according to Richt. … Receiver Marlon Brown hobbled some on his injured ankle on Saturday when he had two catches for 22 yards. “I don’t know if he should have been in there as much as he was,” Richt said. “Here was another kid trying to gut it out, but I’m not sure he was healthy enough to be playing full-speed that game.” … Tight end Orson Charles did not have a catch Saturday, but Richt said the junior “had his very best game as a blocker.”