The Georgia Bulldogs have the worst overall record and the worst league mark of any Southeastern Conference team after four weeks, and folks around the league are taking notice.
“They’re not as good as they were five or six years ago,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday. “Going into this year, some people picked them to win the East. I guess Georgia has got some problems. There are people in worse shape than we are, that’s for sure.”
For those keeping count — and there already has been significant digging into record books following Georgia’s first 0-3 league opening in 17 seasons — 1956 is the only year in which the Bulldogs finished with the worst SEC mark.
The Bulldogs are 7-9 in their last 16 regular-season games against Bowl Subdivision foes following Saturday night’s 24-12 loss at Mississippi State. The win by MSU was its first over Georgia since 1974 and its first over Georgia in Starkville since 1951.
“Georgia should not have to lose this game,” kicker Blair Walsh said. “I know that sounds terrible, but we should never lose this game.”
As if the rare loss in Starkville wasn’t enough, Georgia freshman linebacker Demetre Baker was arrested early Sunday morning in Athens on three charges, including DUI. Baker, who hasn’t played this season and did not travel with the team to MSU, became the 10th Georgia player to get arrested since March and was abruptly dismissed by coach Mark Richt.
“Demetre was fully aware of the possible consequences that resulted from this kind of decision,” Richt said. “I think all of our guys understand that they need to behave.”
Asked if the troubles on and off the field marked the toughest time in his 10-year tenure, Richt said, “It’s obvious that it is, because the bottom line is we’re 0-3 in the league. We’ve never been there, and we have had enough issues off the field that it’s been a big distraction and sad for our young men and for our program, our university, our fans and everybody else. There is no doubt it’s the toughest adversity we’ve faced since I’ve been here.”
Spurrier returned to the SEC in 2005, which is when Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen joined the league as Florida’s offensive coordinator. Georgia won the conference that season, and the Bulldogs won the Sugar Bowl and finished No. 2 nationally two years later.
“I don’t know that they’re hurting,” Mullen said Sunday. “They have a young team, obviously, and their star receiver [A.J. Green] didn’t play in the game last night. They have a young quarterback that is very, very talented that is developing right now.
“I promise you this, there are not all kinds of teams across the country lining up saying ‘Let’s get Georgia on the schedule.’ I just think it shows the depth of our conference top to bottom.”
Green will return from a four-game NCAA suspension this week when the Bulldogs visit Colorado.
Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf rushed 21 times for 97 yards, and his passing totals improved to 9-of-14 for 148 yards and two touchdowns after MSU’s first touchdown was changed from a 13-yard Vick Ballard run to a pass from Relf to Ballard. That also means Georgia now has allowed five touchdown passes the past two games.
Mullen said Relf played his best game and that State’s 10-play, 93-yard touchdown march in the fourth quarter that made it 17-6 was “probably the best drive we’ve had since I’ve been the head coach here.”
Odds and ends
Should Tennessee lose this Saturday at LSU, next week’s matchup between the Vols and Bulldogs in Athens will contain two teams with losing records for the first time since 1906. ... Fifth-year senior Kris Durham is tied for 39th nationally with 81.0 receiving yards per game. ... Richt spent his middle-school years in Broomfield, which is a few miles from Colorado’s campus.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...