ATHENS – Nick Chubb’s expression never changed. Neither did the tone of his voice. When reporters disappeared for a second, he made a move to leave, but stood back in place when a Georgia staffer told him to wait to see if any other reporters had question.
There was a palpable numbness among the eight Georgia players available for interviews after a stunning 17-16 home loss to Vanderbilt. Chubb, not one to talk at length anyway, gave even shorter answers.
“It hurts,” he said. “It hurts bad.”
What does the rest of this season become?
“Try to get better,” Chubb said. “Try to win out.”
Jeb Blazevich, the junior tight end, was asked if there was anything that explained the loss: A short week (after playing at South Carolina Sunday), a noon game, or underestimating Vanderbilt.
“That’s the thing, there’s a million excuses, like you’re saying. We could say all that. Like you said, Oh we’re thinking it’s just Vanderbilt, or we were just thinking it’s a short week, we’re not going to be ready,” Blazevich said.
“But I think we had an awesome week of practice. We had one of the best weeks of practices that we’ve had. It comes back, once again, it’s on us. In my world it’s on us as an offense, and for me it’s on me as a tight end, Did I mess up and can I get better?”
Senior left tackle Tyler Catalina was speaking more about the run blocking, but it could have applied to the overall team result.
“Everyone’s surprised,” Catalina said. “We all came out expecting a dominating game, just like last week. But that’s all credit to Vanderbilt’s defense.”
Georgia has a 24-hour rule about enjoying a victory or brooding over a loss, and then moving on. But this week it has a bye, before playing Florida. That makes for a tough two weeks to await an opportunity at redemption.
“I hope it’s a tough two weeks,” junior linebacker Lorenzo Carter said, his voice rising slightly. “I plan on pushing our players. The leadership is going to push our players. And if you’re not ready to respond, then that’s going to be a rough two weeks for you.”
There were individual players who had their best games of the season. Losing robbed them of the chance to feel good about it.
Rodrigo Blankenship was 3-for-3 on field goals, tripling his total of one made field goal entering the game. His kickoffs were good too. But he never got the chance to go 4-for-4, thanks to a questionable play call and Vanderbilt’s defense.
“I mean, I thought we were going to go down and score a touchdown,” Blankenship said. “Just trying to have as much confidence in the offense as possible.”
It was put to Carter: “This team is 4-3, already equaling its losses from last year, and looks like it has regressed. Is there any reason for that? Or do you disagree?”
Carter thought a couple moments.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve regressed. This is a new team,” he said. “Every year you’re going to have a new team, we’ve just got to get better. We’ve got to come in and keep working, keep grinding, and make sure that we trust the coaches.”