ATLANTA — Georgia coach Mark Richt said he has no plans to add unnecessary hype before his No. 9 Bulldogs host No. 6 LSU on Saturday.
The last time Georgia was ranked in the top 10 and played a prime-time home game against a top 10 opponent was in 2008, and the Bulldogs were blown out by Alabama.
That was the infamous “blackout” game in which players wore black jerseys and all fans were encouraged to wear black attire under the lights at sold-out Sanford Stadium.
Richt said, “We’re not going to do a blackout, no,” as he turns the Bulldogs’ focus to correcting problems from a rain-filled 45-21 victory over North Texas, which capitalized on mistakes to tie the score early in the third quarter.
Georgia (2-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) allowed two touchdowns on special teams breakdowns. North Texas scored on a 99-yard kickoff return that cut the lead to seven in the second quarter.
“We’ve been really covering kicks extremely well all year long. And when you get one like that, you might think it’s broken, but it’s really not broken,” Richt said. “We’ve just got to go back to doing what we’ve been doing, and that’s placing the ball where we want it, getting guys down covering, being in the right spots and making the play.”
A high snap and a missed block early in the third allowed North Texas to block Collin Barber’s punt, and the Mean Green recovered to tie the score.
Quarterback Aaron Murray, despite passing for 408 yards and three touchdowns, threw an early interception in the end zone. And Todd Gurley, despite rushing for 91 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries, lost a fumble early in the fourth.
Against LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC), the Bulldogs can’t afford such lapses, particularly on defense against former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is 14-3 as the Tigers’ starter.
In a 14-point home win over Auburn, running back Jeremy Hill piled up a career-high 184 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Receiver Jarvis Landry caught seven passes for a career-high 118 yards and ran for a touchdown, too.
“They’re not going to try to trick you,” Richt said. “They’re just going to line up and ball you. That’s their goal, you know, and then they’ll be able to create some good matchups with some great receivers and a quarterback who can sling it. So they’re very balanced in what they do, and they can do both equally well.”
Richt said he believes Georgia will benefit from having already played two top 10 opponents, losing the opener at Clemson and recovering the next week to beat South Carolina in Athens.
“We’ve all got big hopes and big dreams,” Richt said. “Everyone in the stadium will be thinking about division championships and conference championships and possibly staying in the hunt for the national championship.”
Murray said the Bulldogs’ lapses were mental mistakes and not a result of the team overlooking North Texas and thinking about LSU.
“We’re not going to apologize for winning the game,” Murray said. “I thought our team stumbled here and there, and I’m really proud of how we fought through it and the way we finished. We preach finish the drill, and we definitely did that today.”