After taking a 24-3 second quarter lead, the Bulldogs couldn’t fend off a furious Tennessee rally, ultimately falling 38-31 at Neyland Stadium.
Georgia lost sophomore tailback Nick Chubb early in the contest to an apparent leg injury in the contest after one carry.
The Bulldogs scored two non-offensive touchdowns, with Leonard Floyd scooping up a fumble and returning it 96 yards for a touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Reggie Davis returned a punt for a touchdown en route to the 24-3 advantage, but the Bulldogs could not hold on.
Sophomore tailback Sony Michel finished with a career best 145 yards on 22 carries. Greyson Lambert, who passed for two touchdowns, totaled 279 yards through the air. Wide receiver Malcom Mitchell finished with 85 yards on five catches, with one touchdown.
Georgia mounted a rally late, with a final drive ending deep in Tennessee territory.
The Bulldogs will look to rebound next week against SEC East foe Missouri, a 7:30 pm kickoff.
*Career Workload for Michel: Sophomore TB Sony Michel carried the load for the Bulldog rushing attack following sophomore Nick Chubb’s injury on the first play from scrimmage. Michel finished with a career-high 22 carries and 145 yards plus three catches for 26 yards. It was his second career 100+ yard rushing effort. He had 155 yards versus Troy in 2014.
*Chubb Injured On 1st Play: Sophomore TB Nick Chubb went down with a left knee injury on the first play from scrimmage after a two-yard gain and did not return. He had a streak of 13 straight games with at least 100 yards, which was a school record he shared with the legendary Herschel Walker. Chubb came in ranked third nationally with 745 yards on 91 carries for an 8.2 average and seven rushing TDs.
*Another Defensive TD: Junior SLB Leonard Floyd’s 96-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the longest by a Bulldog since last season when Damian Swann had a 99-yard fumble return against Ga. Tech. Today marked the 52nd non-offensive touchdown in the Mark Richt era including the 26th defensive TD. Georgia’s last defensive TD against Tennessee came in 2003, a 92-yard fumble return by Sean Jones in a 41-14 win. Georgia’s defense now has two touchdowns this year while special teams has two following a punt return by Reggie Davis for a score against UT in the 2nd quarter. Before today, the others came in a road win over Vanderbilt.
*Another Special Teams TD: Georgia’s Reggie Davis made it 24-3 late in the 2nd quarter following a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first of his career and second by a Bulldog this year (Isaiah McKenzie had a 77-yarder at Vanderbilt). The 31-14 win over the Commodores marked the last time Georgia had both a defensive and special teams TD in the same game until doing it again today.
*Points Off Turnovers: Georgia has scored seven points off a couple of UT turnovers. Senior MLB Jake Ganus notched his 2nd interception of the season at the UT 46 off a Quincy Mauger deflection. Georgia went three-and-out and punted. Georgia scored a touchdown off a forced fumble by Devin Bellamy and picked up by Leonard Floyd who returned it 96 yards for a touchdown. It marked Georgia’s second defensive TD of the year (Dominick Sanders 88-yard INT versus Vanderbilt). UT turned a Bulldog fumble on a kickoff (Sony Michel) in to seven points, needing only 25 yards, that trimmed Georgia’s lead to 24-17. For the year, the Bulldogs are +1 in turnover margin for the year. Georgia has scored 31 points off nine turnovers while opponents have scored 14 points off eight Bulldog miscues.
*Lambert-to-Mitchell Connect: Georgia grabbed a 14-3 lead on a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in 1:46 to answer a UT field goal. The drive was capped by a 28-yard TD pass from junior Greyson Lambert to senior Malcolm Mitchell. It was Mitchell’s fourth TD catch of the year and 15th for his career. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Lambert connected with Reggie Davis for a 48-yard TD play to tie the game at 31. Lambert finished 15-for-32 for 279 yards and two TDs. Mitchell finished with five catches for 85 yards and one TD.
*Morgan Adds To Point Total: Senior PK Marshall Morgan went 1-for-2 on field goals, hitting a 37-yarder for a 17-3 edge and missed a 41-yarder. Also, he added four PATs for a total of seven points. He ranks third in school history for most points in a career now with 362. He is 52-for-68 in career field goals and that ranks sixth in school history in those categories.
*For Starters: True freshman DT Trenton Thompson and junior WLB Tim Kimbrough made their second career starts after making their first last week. Freshman DB Rico McGraw returned to action in a starting role after missing the past three games with a knee injury. McGraw started the season opening win over ULM and had five tackles in the first two games.
*Helmet Sticker: For the second game in a row, the Bulldogs are wearing a “33” decal on their helmets in honor of Southern University’s Devon Gales, who sustained a spinal cord injury during his team’s game against the Bulldogs in Athens on Sept. 26.
*Today’s Captains: Sophomore Nick Chubb (TB), senior Sterling Bailey (DT), senior Jordan Jenkins (OLB) and senior Jake Ganus (ILB) served as the Bulldog captains.
*Series History/Up Next: With today’s 38-31 win by the Vols, UT takes a 22-21-2 series lead and snaps Georgia’s five-game winning streak in the series. Georgia (4-2, 2-2 SEC) plays host to Missouri in a Homecoming matchup next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network).
Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt
“First of all, congratulations to Coach Jones, the rest of his staff and the rest of his team. They did a heck of a job winning the ballgame and making enough plays when it counted the most. Got to give them credit. I feel bad for our guys because I know how hard they played. I am proud of their efforts; we don’t have an effort issue. We just have to execute better. I know you hear it all the time, but it’s the truth of it. One of the things we talked about is not giving any gifts away, making them earn everything they get. Didn’t quite do that the entire ballgame we got one of those too. So I guess it evened out, bottom line is they made more plays when it counted the most, and you’ve got to give them credit.”
(On Nick Chubb’s injury and impact of losing him on first play)
“Nick getting hurt on play one wasn’t very exciting to see at all. He was in pain, physical and mental pain knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to finish out this game. He put so much work into it. I really don’t know for sure, we are optimistic that it won’t require surgery, but we can’t tell 100 percent. I don’t want to give too much information because I don’t know for sure. As of right now we are pretty hopeful that it won’t require surgery. We’ve got to get some confirmation here tomorrow.”
(On team’s response after losing Chubb)
“We’ve got some other good backs. Sony [Michel] stepped in and played well. Keith Marshall got an opportunity to play some, and he played well. You just got to keep playing ball, everyone knows that. I don’t think anybody just dropped their head and said the game’s over, by any stretch. But everybody loves Nick Chubb. Everybody respects Nick Chubb. I am sure Bulldog nation’s heart sank when you see a guy like that on the sideline. He is a true warrior when it comes to playing football, and he is one of the finest people we have on this team.”
(On difference in game plan with Sony Michel in backfield)
“It changes to a certain degree, but Sony ran it in there between the tackles. We called the same plays that we would have called for the most part. Maybe we might have had it with a little more frequency if Nick was there. Nick probably would have handled more of the inside runs if he was there, but you do have to give credit to Sony, and the line blocked well. With any SEC defense you are not going to get five yards a pop every time you snap the ball, but you bang away, and bang away, and there will be one or two. We say that every game. It didn’t change us where we just had to throw it out, throw out the game plan. We still pretty much ran the things we practiced.”
(On end of the first half)
“They put a nice drive together before the first half, and of course they kicked off to us and we turned it over and gave them a super short field, and they knock another one in to their credit. They drove the ball a few times too. We have to do a better job of getting off the field defensively. Just all the way around; offense needs to execute better, defense needs to execute better, special teams certainly can get better as we go as well. Some good things happened in the special teams, but when you turn it over deep in your territory when you’ve grabbed a lot of momentum and a bit of separation. It was sad that happened the way it did to give them juice going into the locker room. If we stopped them there, what was it 24-3, if we went into halftime with that score it would be a little different feel. As it turned out we’re still winning the game, but they did grab a bit of momentum going in.”
(On what he said Reggie Davis after the game)
“No, other then what I told the whole team. I was just proud of their effort. I think Reggie was playing his best game. Reggie was on kickoff return, punt return. When we were on punt he was covering kicks and then he’s playing offense just about every snap. He was playing his tail off. His shoulder got knocked down a little bit, he was kind of debating whether he could keep going, he sucked it up and kept going. I am really proud of the effort he gave throughout. I’m sure he’s as sick or sicker than anybody that he dropped that ball at the end there, but it didn’t take away how hard he played or how I feel about him as a guy that will bust his tail for his team. It was tough that that happened. It would have been a great, great game for him, I still think he still played pretty darn good.”
(On Sony Michel taking blame for loss)
“Well it’s hard to tell guys what to think. We certainly didn’t grab him coming off the sideline, badger him and tell him ‘you messed up the game for us’. We don’t do that. We encourage him to get back to fundamentals and have the ball high and tight, two hands in traffic, and that kind of thing. We try to coach them and teach them. Of all people, that kid, Sony is not going to be like a guy that acts like it’s no big deal. If someone acts like it’s no big deal then you have a problem with that. He knew it was a big deal. He was sick, and then he just kept battling from there.”
(On how difficult it was to run later in the game)
“They pretty much packed the box the whole day, which allowed us to take some one-on-one shots that we took advantage of. We probably have to do a little bit more of that quite frankly. They did a good job of rolling their safeties down, giving us two deep stuff. The last second rolling a guy in there, and getting an unblocked hat in there. They fought, the played good.”
(On Josh Dobbs)
“We knew he was a good athlete and we knew he was a big, tough kid. He played inspired ball tonight I thought. He really became a tackled breaker, maybe more so than I would have expected. We had a harder time, when we got to him, just getting him on the ground. You figure if you get to a QB like that, you can get him on the ground. There were times he just broke tackles and kept going. The yards after contact that you think about for a tailback, he was doing that. He played a whale of a game.”
(On Tennessee receivers getting free)
“Sometimes you bring certain pressures and you expect to get to the quarterback before he can step up and throw it into some seems that are a little bit bigger because you are bringing more people. I know that happened once or twice. Anytime a guy can hold the ball long enough, most of the time something is going to come open sooner or later. There were times where we got to him, pressured him and batted balls down and things of that nature. But there were times where he had more time and space in that pocket than you’d life for him to have with the coverage that we had.”
(On second loss impacting goals)
“I don’t know yet, it’s a wild league. A lot of teams are capable of beating each other. We are definitely not losing hope by any means of our goal to get to Atlanta. We know our big thing is to get better. Find a way to beat Missouri, get to that open date, get healed up a little bit, rest up a little bit. Get ready for the next one. Our focus again would do everything we can to get prepared to beat Missouri at home.”
(On how the team fixes mistakes)
“What do we have to do? There is a lot of things I’m sure that have to happen. One is to protect a little better maybe. The quarterback has to be more accurate, guys have to catch the ball when it gets to them. Sometimes you have to be ready to run a draw into coverages that are designed to stop passes. A lot of times you’ll break a run on those types of coverages.”
(On Grayson Lambert’s play)
“He did some really good things. There’s a few things that I can think of off the top of my head where he missed an open guy here or there. Again, it’s really hard to put a stamp on it without seeing the tape. As the game went on, and when it came time to continue to fight and put us in a position to win, he was doing that. Of course if Reggie [Davis] catches the ball, who knows you might be saying what a heroic game it was for Reggie and him. It didn’t turn out that way on that particular play.”
(On how he feels after two consecutive but different losses)
“They do. It’s just no good losing. People can say it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. There’s a little bit of that I guess. But the reality is if you don’t win it’s not fun. Sometimes if you do win, it’s not that fun. We do a poor job of celebrating victories no matter how they happen. It’s sickening to everybody. The coaching staff spends 80 hours a week grinding, everybody is, not just us. Our players putting the hours they put in, plus school, academics and all that kind of thing. It’s a big sacrifice from January until today. So it hurts; it’s painful, but that’s sports, that’s football and that’s part of life. So we have to deal with it, we’ve got to stick together, we have to work hard and find ways to improve to the point that we can get that victory next week.”
(On the play of Jake Ganus)
“He did a lot of good things I saw for sure, no doubt. He’s a tough kid, plays with a lot of heart and determination. A couple times he got out there in space and shot his bullet and missed, but that’s what happens when you play hard. You go after people and try to knock them back, every once in a while you miss them. For the most part I thought he played his tail off.”
(On Jordan Jenkins missing time)
“I think it was a groin injury that was bothering him. I think he tried to come and play in the second half, but he couldn’t go. I don’t know how serious it is, but that’s what it was.”
(On how tough loss is based on goals)
“Immediately, like right now, between now and the time you put your head on the pillow and go to bed. It probably is tougher, but what happens is once tomorrow comes, you must critique it, you must watch the film and you must decide what needs be done. Once you go through the pain of that, after that you just start moving forward. We are extremely busy getting prepared for the next one. It’s therapeutic going back to work, because it hurts. When you have a new goal in front of you, you start going after that. Usually I have the worst remorse, or the worst regret of a loss in the middle of the summer. I go back and watch tape or whatever it is. As its happening you’ve got to more forward, you got to be positive. Everybody thinks the sky is falling, everybody starts pointing fingers, and everyone gets really negative it’s hard to finish a season and continue to strive for the goals that we have. That’s not going to happen, it hasn’t happened in the 15 years that I’ve been here. It’s no fun, it’s hard to sleep on a night like tonight, it’s going to be hard to wake up and know that it happened. “
(On feeling snake bitten by running back injuries)
“I hadn’t really thought about it.”
Georgia Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt
(On team after two losses)
“Our goal as a football team is trying to get better every day. All we can worry about is what we can control. Hopefully we’ll come back, I think we got a really good bunch of young men, that’s going to pull together. We’ll try to correct our mistakes and we’ll get better from there on Monday.”
(On Georgia’s tackling)
“Number one [Jalen Hurd] for them is a big man and when you let him get going, you have to bring your feet. We didn’t do that on occasion.”
(On Jake Ganus)
“Jake does a really good job executing the game plan, he makes a lot of calls back there and he helps get guys in the right spots. He did a good job. “
(On SEC race)
“The big thing we are going to worry about is helping improve Georgia. We’ve got to go back and look at our mistakes and correct them, worry about the things we can control.”
TB Sony Michel
“I know my team fought hard. We made a lot of mistakes and I feel like I made the biggest mistake to turn this game around. I kind of want to take this game upon myself – I feel like we lost this game because of me.”
(On fumble on kickoff return)
“I wasn’t holding onto the ball tight enough and gave it away and killed momentum.”
(On support of team after fumble)
“My team is always supportive and they’re always there for me no matter what happens – good or bad, they’re always there. It just sucks when I’m not able to respond how they want me to.”
(On Chubb’s injury)
“I talked to him a little bit on the sideline. He’s in good spirits and he knew I had to go in there and kind of play his role and play the game for him.”
“I was prepared for this moment – he prepared me for this moment.”
(On any pressure entering the game)
“There was no pressure, just lack of focus. I went in that game and gave it up. That’s the number one rule – never give up the ball.”
“We’re just going to have to leave this behind us and move on forward to the next game – Missouri. We’re going to try to get our ultimate goal to win the game.”
(On Reggie Davis’s play)
“Everybody makes mistakes, but I think if I would have never fumbled then we would not have been in that position to count on him to kick that ball.”
SE Malcom Mitchell
(On Sony Michel’s postgame comment regarding his fumble in the game)
“I wish he never would have made that comment. If I was by him I wouldn’t have let him make that comment because the game is 60 minutes. It’s a team effort. We’re supposed to have his back…I just don’t like when teammates put the blame on themselves because they’re not the only one on the field.”
(On where Georgia goes from here)
“The most dishonorable thing to the “G” is to give up.”
(On Nick Chubb’s injury)
“I think the loss of Nick Chubb is an emotional loss that will feel more now than during the game. Unfortunately that comes with territory. That’s a part of the game: injuries. Unfortunately sometimes [we suffer] injuries, so we’ll be there for him as his teammate and as his friend. I’m not even sure what is wrong with him to be honest, so I don’t know what is going on.”
QB Greyson Lambert
(On tonight’s loss)
“You know, all losses are tough – this one today is extra tough. We’ve got to be able to put them behind us and move on – that’s football, that’s how it works. We’ve got to put behind both the wins and losses and move on to the next week.”
(On his playing in the game)
“I don’t know, I haven’t watched the film obviously. But, I didn’t do enough to help out. I know we didn’t do well on third down and I take a lot of the blame for that – missing a couple of throws but I don’t know.”
(On regrouping post game)
“There’s really no other option but to just regroup and think, come back and come back fighting. I feel like we’re a resilient team and we have to come back and move forward. [We have to] learn from the mistakes, build off the good stuff and just move forward.”
(On Chubb’s injury)
“You never want to see any of that stuff happen. You never think about it but he’s probably the least deserving person for something like that to happen to. It was tough but obviously we had 59 minutes and 30 seconds left in the ballgame so it was next man up mentality. The game had just started and we had so much adrenaline going for the game that we had to keep moving on and moving forward.”
ILB Jake Ganus
(On the loss)
“We just [have] to go back, get in the film room, and just have to keep going forward. You never know what can happen in this league, and our full focus now is on Missouri so we just got to go and prepare for them.”
(On looking back at the game)
“We had a lot of miscommunication and just a lot of different things, lack of education, and we just didn’t execute as well as we needed to. It’s disappointing but you just have to learn from it and move on.”
“You know when different offices bring different problems, and schematically we had a really good plan and overall we just need to execute better. Just knowing where your eyes are supposed to be and always just focusing on the little things. We had a lot of quarterback runs and were chasing the running back – play action passes and whatnot. So those are things as a defense we have to get better and mature at.
(On UT’s score in second quarter)
“Yeah I mean, that was tough but we can’t let that affect it – how we play. We came out in the second half and got a stop right away so we weren’t thinking about that. In the end, they played better and made more plays.”