ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football coach Mark Richt provided a history lesson this week concerning the Tennessee Volunteers.
Richt told his high-flying Bulldogs about the 2004 matchup in Sanford Stadium, when Georgia was coming off a resounding 45-16 win over LSU but never got it together in a 19-14 loss to the Vols. Comparisons to the '04 game began moments after Georgia shellacked Vanderbilt 48-3 last Saturday night.
"I told them that this situation just reminded me of that season," Richt said. "Tennessee came in with a freshman quarterback [Erik Ainge] and beat us, and I wanted to help them understand it could happen and that we better get our minds right. We better prepare just as hard or harder than the week before."
Tennessee leads the series with Georgia 21-18-2, and the Vols are 9-6 in Sanford Stadium.
Asked if the '04 game against Tennessee was the most lethargic he could remember one of his teams playing, Richt pointed to the '07 debacle in Knoxville. The Vols took a 28-0 halftime lead and coasted to a 35-14 win.
"That was about as flat as I can remember," Richt said.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was knocked out of last season's 20-12 loss to Georgia in the fourth quarter with a fractured right thumb that forced him to sit out five games. Bray was following through on a pass when his hand smacked the facemask of Bulldogs inside linebacker Christian Robinson.
"He's a very confident guy, and I didn't think he was going to throw the ball that he did," Robinson said. "I remember his hand hitting my visor, and then he cringed. You want to make the play, but I wasn't going after anybody. This isn't the Saints or anything."
Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray said he watches about 20 hours of tape before each game -- six hours every Sunday and then two to three hours daily during the week.
"I've always prided myself in trying to outwork everyone else," Murray said. "If you're going to get ready for a test, how do you want to feel heading into that test? Come Saturday, I want to know their defense and know my checks and progressions."
Said receiver Michael Bennett: "He spends a weird amount of hours in here. I could never do that. I could never play quarterback."
With NFL fans in an uproar regarding the replacement referees following Monday night's finish between Seattle and Green Bay, Richt expressed his thanks for those who officiate SEC games.
"I think our officials do a good job, and I think Steve Shaw is doing a good job of leading the group," he said. "Every week we turn in things that we have questions about, and he gets it back to you in a hurry."
The backup plan
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Parker Welch isn't on scholarship and doesn't have a bio in the media guide, but he entered when Murray left last week's win after three quarters. Welch came in before redshirt freshman Christian LeMay, Rivals.com's No. 3 quarterback in the 2011 signing class, and completed a 15-yard pass to Rhett McGowan.
Richt said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is allowing Welch and LeMay to compete on a weekly basis for the backup spot.
"Parker has been in the system a little bit longer, and he's very diligent in the way he prepares as well," Richt said. "Coach Bobo felt like he earned the right to go in first, so that's what we did."
Odds and ends
Richt said that if suspended safety Bacarri Rambo and suspended inside linebacker Alec Ogletree are in full gear in pregame warmups, there is a good chance they will play. ... Sophomore Malcolm Mitchell, who had 126 receiving yards last year at Tennessee, worked on offense Tuesday and is scheduled to practice at cornerback today. ... Georgia can be the first top-five team to lose to Tennessee since LSU in 2005. ... Richt on former kicker Blair Walsh, who struggled last year but has set an NFL rookie record with the Minnesota Vikings by becoming the first to connect from 50 yards or longer in each of his first three games: "They've got him straightened out."
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 ...