Bowl loss stuck with Georgia

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ATHENS, Ga. — Even after reeling off 10 consecutive wins, reaching the Southeastern Conference Championship game and fueling optimism for the future, Georgia’s football players haven’t forgotten about how they felt after their last bowl game.

“That was the lowest that anybody could get here,” receiver Tavarres King said.

Georgia didn’t ensure a trip to a bowl game last year until the final day of its regular season, when it turned back Georgia Tech and then played like it would rather be anywhere other than the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.

Central Florida dealt Georgia a 10-6 loss, leaving the Bulldogs with a 6-7 record and their first losing season since 1996. Georgia had its lowest scoring output in a bowl game since a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh in the 1977 Sugar Bowl.

A “dark night for Georgia football that night,” athletic director Greg McGarity said.

“Obviously the season had a lot to do with it, but us losing that ballgame shed a really negative light on the program,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “We had to fight through that adversity as well as doing what you’re supposed to do in the off-season.”

After the Liberty Bowl loss, Georgia began an offseason that included an overhauled roster with several players with eligibility remaining transferring out, some leaving on their own, others encouraged to move on.

“I don’t know if you’d call that the straw that broke the camel’s back or that last spark that lit the fire that got things moving around here,” tight end Aron White said. “It was definitely time for a change. It definitely got us going. It definitely lit a fire under us and got us to working and pushing”

Cornerback Brandon Boykin called Georgia’s performance against Central Florida “a mediocre-type game, sluggish, just kind of going through the motions.”

White said there “was a lot of negativity surrounding our program, guys maybe kind of getting down on ourselves. The fans talking about, ‘Are you guys sad that you went to this bowl?’ We were happy that we made a bowl.”

Richt said he has seen players practicing with energy and happy to be around their teammates during this season’s bowl practices.

“I think the guys are excited about the opportunity,” Richt said.

“I think overall this team has taken on a much more positive outlook on things from the very beginning starting last January.”

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Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 12/20/11 - 06:04 am
I think two of the best

I think two of the best things that could've happened to Georgia in the last couple of years was losing our previous Athletic Director and losing that bowl game. Both losses involved ridding the football program of negative elements, and then bringing in new people who invigorated it and are trying to instill a new winning attitude. Sometimes you have to look at what good can come out of a bad situation.

Riverman1 12/20/11 - 06:20 am
Bowl games are so iffy.

Bowl games are so iffy. Unless it's a major bowl the players don't care that much about it. On the other hand a small school plays hard against a big one in bowls. UGA and USC both have big name opponents. We'll have to see who shows up.

LemonJello 12/20/11 - 10:13 am
Nice point JMO! Sometimes

Nice point JMO! Sometimes losing is the price of experience for young players and complacent coaches. This is precisely why I think the championship game against LSU will ultimately reap rewards for the UGA program. It gave our young players valuable experience to take with them as they mature into more seasoned players in the next couple of years. Even the upcoming match against Michigan State is valuable to our or lose. MS is a more mature team that UGA's and I think they will have an edge. This is the type of game where young players can stretch their ability and test themselves for a benchmark for the coming season. UGA is 3-0 vs. Michigan State and the players should be incented to keep that record perfect. We shall see. Its going to be a good one.

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