ATHENS – Georgia players arrived home from Auburn late Saturday night. They had a full weightlifting session Sunday, as normal. They had their customary Sunday night dinner with coach Kirby Smart. And then they headed out to class Monday, two days after their first loss of the season, for a chance to gauge the mood on campus.
Or maybe not.
“I only had one class [Monday], so I didn’t have to interact with too many people,” senior cornerback Aaron Davis said with a smile.
In the immediate aftermath of the loss at Auburn, the range of emotions in Georgia’s locker room went from sullen to disconsolate. Senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, normally the most outgoing player, was so upset he gave short answers, and that was after being persuaded to talk by a team official.
The game, tight end Jeb Blazevich said, was a “reality check” for a team that had been No. 1 in the country and not only unbeaten, but waxing opponents. Then it became the team that got waxed.
“We didn’t play Georgia football on Saturday, and that’s something that showed on the scoreboard towards the end,” Davis said.
Two days later, however, Georgia’s players had no choice. They had to get back to practice.
“I’m just anxious and excited to move on, get this behind us,” Blazevich said. “I know it’s going to be tough for fans and everybody else because they don’t start Kentucky game prep [on Monday]. You know, it’s not like it is for us where we can wash it, because we don’t have the luxury of time to sit around and wonder, ‘What if?’ You’ve got a job to do.”
Here’s why: The season not only isn’t over, but the Bulldogs still have a very real chance of winning a national championship.
The Bulldogs will be favored in their final two regular-season games, first Kentucky and then at Georgia Tech, although neither game is a sure win, especially against the Yellow Jackets and their option offense. Survive those two, and then it’s basically a playoff play-in against Auburn or Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
Smart said he had full confidence in his players to regroup and focus, adding they had “the right stuff” when it comes to that. It would be nearly impossible to survey the entire locker room; only four players were made available to the media Monday. That’s the normal amount, and those four echoed that company line: On to Kentucky.
“You can’t really cry over spilt milk,” senior nose tackle John Atkins said.
“We don’t have the luxury of time to sit around and feel bad for ourselves,” Blazevich said. “It’s something where we can’t mope around. We have work to do.”
Georgia’s odds to win the national championship dropped, per the gambling site Bovada, but they are not off the board. The Bulldogs are now a 12-1 shot to win the whole thing, after being 4-1 last week. That still puts them in a tie for the sixth-best odds, along with Wisconsin, behind Alabama (10-to-11 odds), Oklahoma (4-1), Clemson and Miami (8-1) and Auburn (10-1).
“You can’t be too down because we still have a lot of football left,” Atkins said. “Once you get down about it, that’s when you don’t want to go to practice, you don’t want to tackle, you don’t want to do this. The best thing is to just focus on the next game.”
Atkins was asked if a loss could actually help a team.
“It can,” Atkins said, sounding like he didn’t believe that. “But you really don’t want to lose.”