The best thing that happened for the Georgia Bulldogs on Monday is they got to practice. Until then, they’d been feeling pretty rotten since leaving the field 43-38 losers to Auburn Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“I think the mood is getting better,” junior cornerback Damian Swann said. “I think yesterday and early on today was kind of a struggle for the whole team. … We actually fought our way back (against Auburn) and we thought we had it won. But if you stick around and play this game long enough things like that are going to happen. Unfortunately we caught the short end of the stick.”
Though Swann didn’t have anything directly to do with the fateful, game-winning play — a 73-yard bomb with 25 seconds remaining — he was the one who had to answer questions about it after the Bulldogs got in a short, one-hour workout Monday night. UGA turned down interview requests for sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons and freshman Tray Matthews, the two safeties who unsuccessfully defended the play.
The Tigers faced fourth-and-18 at their own 27 when Nick Marshall threw deep down the middle of the field for Ricardo Louis. Both Matthews and Harvey-Clemons attempted to intercept the ball when the time and situation called for the ball only to be knocked down. The ball deflected off Harvey-Clemons’ hands, went over Matthews’ head and landed in the hands of Louis, who waltzed in with the winning score.
Swann was asked if Georgia’s coaching staff reminded the defensive backs that the play was to knock down the ball.
“I don’t remember hearing it,” Swann said. “But on this level of the game, that should be known. But you learn. We have to take this as a learning experience and move forward from it.”
Swann said the scenario is something the Bulldogs go over in practice all the time.
“I think that was a young-guy mistake by them and I think they’re going to learn from it,” said Swann, who has had his own difficult moments this season. “Those two players are going to be tremendous players for this program and it’s going to be a great learning experience for them. A lot of guys don’t play in those big games like we’ve played in their first year or their first time getting a significant amount of playing time. Once those guys look back at it and really realize how much football they played in their first season, it’s going to be big for them and big for us.”
Both Harvey-Clemons and Matthews are first-year starters. Matthews started for the first time after missing four games with a hamstring injury. He came off the bench to play in the previous game against Appalachian State.
Swann was asked about their demeanor since getting back to Athens.
“I can’t really tell,” he said. “Today those guys seemed like themselves. What happened, it was a tough pill to swallow. But at the end of the day we’ve still got games to play. So we’ve got to move on and keep it going.”
3:30 p.m. kick for Tech: Georgia’s Nov. 30 game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta has been set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. It will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 but the network determination will be made after this week’s games. It will be the seventh time this season the Bulldogs have played in a late-afternoon start, a prime slot in college football.
This & that: The Bulldogs had a light, one-hour practice Monday night. Normally reserved for correcting mistakes from the previous game, Georgia moved right into preparation for Kentucky. “All of our focus tonight was on Kentucky,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We got our kicking work in and we started putting in the offense and the defense. It was a good start to the week and it’s important that we keep it up every day moving forward.” … Georgia’s entire senior class will serve as captains on Saturday, but quarterback Aaron Murray, noseguard Garrison Smith, safety Connor Norman and fullback Corey Campbell were selected by the coaching staff for the coin toss… . Tight end Arthur Lynch accepted an invitation to the Jan. 25 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.