ATHENS — Say what you want about Georgia’s coaching staff, but they were exhibiting some strong solidarity on Tuesday in response to criticism in the wake of the loss to South Carolina this past Saturday.
- Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo took responsibility for the decision to call a pass play on first-and-goal at the Gamecocks’ 4-yard line trailing by three late in the fourth quarter.
- Head coach Mark Richt, done with his media responsibilities for the day, nevertheless summoned reporters after Tuesday’s practice to make sure they knew he did not have a problem with Bobo’s call and believes him to be the “one of the best coordinators in America.”
- And defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt came up after practice to say he was “embarrassed” that the Bulldogs were able to score 35 points and his defense wasn’t able to make that hold up for a victory.
“I said after the game if I had it to over again, I just would’ve hammered the ball,” Richt said. “Somebody (interpreted) that to be me dogging out Bobo. I just want to make it real clear that I think Mike Bobo is one of the best coordinators in America and one of the best play-callers. I’ve got full faith in the guy.”
Richt went on to talk about how he had called so many games in his career as a coordinator and that he’d never called a perfect game. In the end, he felt like he should have called a timeout and called up the entire offense and told them, “Hey, boys, we’re going to knock this thing in right now. Let’s go.”
“So I feel like that’s what I could have done,” Richt said. “If I had it to do again, that’s what I would’ve done. But it has nothing to do with Mike. I knew what the call was and the call was good. It was something we’d worked on. … Everybody would’ve been cheering if we’d scored.”
Bobo, who wasn’t available after Saturday’s game did nothing to shirk the responsibility for the call — which he still believes was a good call — and was fiercely protective of quarterback Hutson Mason and the decisions he made on the play.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to score and we didn’t get it done,” Bobo told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “We had three shots and didn’t get it in the end zone and that’s my responsibility and my fault. But we did what we thought would work at the time and obviously it didn’t work. … At the end of the day, we had a chance to score on our last possession of the game and we didn’t get it done.”
As for the specific call, a fake toss-sweep left, bootleg pass right for the H-back, Bobo made no apologies for it. Bobo because the focus of a meme of opinion of national media saying you have to simply hand the ball to Todd Gurley, your Heisman Trophy candidate tailback, four times if you must in that situation.
“I’m going to make the calls I think give up the best chance to win,” Bobo said. “At that time I thought that play did, period.”
Shortly after Bobo had returned to coaches’ offices, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt came out to meet the press for the first time since his defense gave up 447 yards, 27 first downs and 38 points to the Gamecocks in the loss. Pruitt was dumbfounded to learn that Bobo had been taking the heat from the Bulldog Nation (and beyond) for the loss.
“You sit there and you look what our offense did to keep us in that football game, drive after drive, was phenomenal on there part,” he said. “They scored 35 points. If you score 35 points and you don’t win, we’re not doing our job. Our offense did a phenomenal job. … They ought to be dragging me over the coals. If you score 35 points you’re supposed to win. My gosh!”
Said Richt: “The calls that are the best are the ones that work and I know that. That’s just part of the business. But for someone to think I had less than full faith in Mike, that was the issue for me. That’s what I’m talking about. I just want to make that clear.”