ATLANTA — Mark Richt insists his confidence in his Georgia players and assistants remains firm after a lopsided loss to South Carolina left the Bulldogs in a hole in the SEC East.
Georgia has an open week before it plays at Kentucky on Oct. 20. The No. 14 Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) trail two undefeated teams, No. 3 South Carolina and No. 4 Florida, in the Eastern Division after their 35-7 loss to the Gamecocks on Saturday night.
The loss was complete in all phases. South Carolina took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, and the rout was on.
Georgia scored more than 40 points in five straight wins before being shut down by South Carolina. The defense couldn't stop Connor Shaw, who passed for two touchdowns, or Marcus Lattimore, who ran for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Richt conceded South Carolina "just physically whipped us." He said that's no reason to panic.
"I'm definitely not losing confidence in this team at all or our coaching staff or anything like that," Richt said Sunday. "That's the worst thing you can do and that's what teams do when they panic, they tend to fall apart. Georgia is not going to fall apart. We're going to go ahead and get back to work and just get better at what we do and if we've got to make changes, we'll do that."
Richt said his players can look back to the 2011 season for a lesson on remaining confident. Georgia opened last season with back-to-back losses to Boise State and South Carolina before winning 10 straight games to earn a trip to the SEC championship game.
"A year ago we were 0-2 and everybody wants to decide the sky has fallen and it's over for Georgia," Richt said. "What did we do? We stayed firm. We believed in each other. We began to bang away and before we know it we won the Eastern Division."