ATHENS — The ongoing drama of Mark Richt’s attempt to save his job will continue on Saturday when Georgia plays a Kentucky team in similar need of a quick fix.
The heat is on Richt as Georgia (5-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) has lost three of four, including lopsided setbacks to Alabama and Florida that raised the volume of fans’ complaints. The Bulldogs were eliminated from the SEC East race with last week’s 27-3 loss to Florida, and they haven’t reached the end zone in back-to-back games.
Kentucky (4-4, 2-4 SEC) has lost three straight and has one of the league’s worst defenses. The Wildcats were outscored 94-37 in losses to Mississippi State and Tennessee in their last two games.
The Bulldogs need to show offensive improvement against Kentucky, which ranks 13th in the league with 29.1 points allowed per game.
Richt said Wednesday Greyson Lambert, who started the first seven games, and Brice Ramsey shared most of the first-team snaps this week.
When asked at his weekly news conference if he might makes changes on offense, possibly including taking play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Richt replied with what sounded like a pep talk.
“We’re Georgia,” Richt said. “We’re a team. We work together. We’re going to fight. We’re going to fight together, and we’ll do the things we think we need to do to get better as we go, but the Georgia people can count on us fighting our tails off and doing it in a way that everybody would be proud of the effort of our young men and everybody’s efforts to get better.”
Here are some things to watch Saturday when Kentucky visits Georgia:
PUNT, PASS AND PICK A QB: Ramsey took over as Georgia’s punter last week and averaged 43.4 yards on five punts. He replaced Collin Barber, whose average is 40.6 yards. Richt said Ramsey’s status at quarterback won’t affect his status at punter, though he also said “don’t be shocked to see Collin punt again” at some point this season.
BOOM-LESS BACKFIELD: The good news for the Wildcats is that leading rusher Boom Williams’ right elbow injury was upgraded from week to week to being evaluated on a daily basis. The downside is that he’s still out against the Bulldogs, leaving the rushing duties to Mikel Horton and Jojo Kemp. Williams leads Kentucky with 563 yards rushing on 85 attempts, but Horton is coming off career bests of 109 yards on 14 carries.
COMPLETE GAME SOUGHT: Kentucky has had strong play from quarterback Patrick Towles but has yielded points in bunches. The Wildcats allowed 21 straight second-quarter points to the Bulldogs in Starkville before letting the Volunteers break open a competitive game with 28 straight points in the third. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said players have to focus at critical points to keep winnable games from getting out of control.
CASTING CALL: Star tailback Nick Chubb’s season-ending knee on the first play at Tennessee was the obvious start of Georgia’s problems on offense. Chubb’s replacement, Sony Michel, suffered a broken bone in his right hand early last week and will play with a cast that leaves the fingers free on the hand. He says it won’t affect him carrying the ball. He said he also can still catch but noted “It just might not look pretty.”
BOWLED OVER: Kentucky is fighting for a bowl berth but hasn’t won at Georgia since 2009. “The only way you can erase this feeling in your program is to get a victory,” Stoops said. “I am sure they feel the same way.”