ATHENS – Lorenzo Carter can smile about it now. He can smile about almost anything. What happened last Saturday night served as one of the those exceptions.
Georgia’s senior linebacker was inconsolable. He had been summoned for postgame interviews after his team’s embarrassing loss at Auburn. But Carter, normally one of the Bulldogs’ most outgoing and eager interviews, didn’t want to do it. A team official had to put his hands on Carter’s chest, plead with him and talk him into it.
When Carter did finally appear, he was short with his answers. He never smiled. His heartbreak was obvious. It was a painful few minutes and a symbol for how disappointing a night it was for the Georgia football team.
“The hardest part was not being able to give our best shot,” Carter said. “Not being able to go out there and put up a real fight.”
That was Carter speaking after practice Wednesday, when he showed up in much better spirits, smiling and refocused for what he still hopes is a national championship run.
“I had 24 hours to be in the dumps,” Carter said of the aftermath of the 40-17 loss. “But I had to get out of that.”
Carter, a senior, has experienced some bad losses in his Georgia career. Why did this one hit him so hard?
“Everything means more, man. It’s senior year, the last campaign,” Carter said. “Everything’s just amplified, the importance of it.”
Here was a snippet of Carter’s postgame media session:
Q: What was missing tonight?
Carter: “I can’t tell you.”
Q: Everything’s still in front of you. It was a bad loss, is it impossible to see that right now?
Q: This seems like the toughest it has been for you. It’s not hard to miss that you’re taking this pretty tough.
Carter: (Long pause). “Yeah. We’ve just got to work.”
At the risk of belaboring the point, it was an uncharacteristic of Carter. An accomplished cello player as a youth, Carter still enjoys listening to Yo-Yo Ma. He’s the type of young man who will see someone walking in a building behind him and stop and wait awhile, holding the door.
Coaches and teammates marvel at how Carter turns the metaphorical switch on and off. Nice off the field, a “savage” on it, the team leader in sacks (4 this season) who is an NFL prospect, and a 5 -star prospect coming out of Norcross (Ga.) High School. When coach Kirby Smart was asked about his outside linebacker playing like a “savage,” he replied, “Lorenzo’s not a savage, he’s a very nice young man.”
Carter didn’t have a good game against Auburn. Not many members of his team did. Hence his feelings in the immediate aftermath.
But as he thought about it, Carter said he realized that the loss, as bad as it was, didn’t wreck the team’s championship hopes.
“Coach made sure we knew we definitely weren’t out of the mix,” Carter said. “Just one loss isn’t going to define our season. We’ve had a great season so far, we plan on keeping the thing going.
“That one loss, it was good for the team just to wake up, just [have] a wake-up call. But I’m just proud everybody’s been working. We haven’t gotten hung up on that.”