TAMPA - Mark Richt is coming under a lot of criticism for his approach to the first overtime. He explained his decision-making afterwards and simply having faith in kicker Blair Walsh – who had struggled for much of this season.
Georgia had a chance to clinch the game in the first overtime, after intercepting Michigan State on its possession. After getting two yards from Carlton Thomas on first down, Richt opted to have Aaron Murray kneel in the center of the field – losing two yards – to set up the kick on third down.
Walsh missed, and Georgia eventually lost in triple overtime.
“I felt like my man would make the kick,” Richt said. “I felt like we centered the ball, put the ball right where we wanted to, it was well within his range.”
You have to give Walsh credit for coming into the media room and talking to every reporter, and handling the questions straight up. The senior has been that way all year, which proved to be a rough one for the SEC's all-time leading scorer. (He set the record on Monday.)
“I haven’t missed a game-winner before,” he said. “But I’ve definitely missed a big-time kick before. This one sucks, it’s a little more out there for people to see. I think for the last four years for this team I’ve been dependable. And it sucks that I wasn’t there when they needed me to be today.”
Walsh didn’t blame the snap or hold for either his first overtime miss or the final one, which was blocked. He was also asked what was said to him in the locker room.
“Nothing really,” he said. “Most people avoid you a little bit. It sucks that it had to go down like that way, but that’s how it ends.”
Bobo on not putting it away
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo also got into the play-calling strategy at the end of regulation. After getting one first down, Georgia ran it three times before punting, and Michigan State ended up having enough time to go downfield and tie the game.
“There was a lot of discussion there," Bobo said. "We were able to get the first first down. It was play-ball situation. After the first down, we decided to go ahead and run it three times and make them use their timeouts. So we felt we still would have a chance to get it we just didn’t execute the run plays tshat were called.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the injuries caught up to Georgia at the end. Senior end DeAngelo Tyson missed the game with an ankle injury, and nose tackle John Jenkins got hurt late in regulation and missed overtime.
“We kind of ran out of gas there,” Grantham said. “Really at the end of the game our rushers we’re really down to a couple guys. … The guys that were in there they kept fighting, they played hard.”
Georgia also got short on tailbacks as the game went on, with Thomas – the fourth-stringer, according to order of carriers in the game – being in the game in overtime. Starter Ken Malcome had an undisclosed injury, and Isaiah Crowell aggravated his ankle injury. He was in a boot after the game.
“It was the same ankle that’s been bothering him all along. It just got rolled in there,” Richt said. “Sometimes it’s just hard to get over the hump with an injury like that. You work like mad, you rehab, to the point where you can go again. But when you stress it with two or three defensive bodies at the same time and you get torped in a direction that’s not natural, that’s what happens sometimes.”
'Not a great year'
Overall, Richt was still keeping a bright outlook on his team, which started and ended with two-game losing streaks, but in between won 10 straight.
“It’s sad when you lose,” Richt said. “I mean you hate to lose. Right this minute you’re definitely not too thrilled. But in time this one will heal, and we’ll get back on the road recruiting, and our guys will take a little bit of a break. … I still think that our guys had a good year, not a great year.”
Looking towards next year, safety Bacarri Rambo gave a no-comment when asked about his future. Tight end Orson Charles wasn't on the media interview list.
Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said for the umpteenth time that he was returning. And Tavarres King, whom hadn't been asked about it prior to his 205-yard peformance on Monday, said he would be back.