ATHENS — Following a week of speculation about his job status and rumors of staff dissension, Georgia coach Mark Richt described a dominant win over Kentucky as “good medicine.”
He then added more than one dose will be needed.
Greyson Lambert made a successful return as Georgia’s quarterback, even though he had to share the fun, and the Bulldogs beat Kentucky 27-3 on Saturday, giving the Wildcats their fourth straight loss.
Sony Michel led Georgia’s productive running game with 24 carries for 165 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run for Georgia (6-3, 4-3 Southeastern Conference).
It was an important win for Richt, who faced increased pressure after losses in three of four games. Rumors of infighting on his staff led Richt to use his Twitter feed on Thursday to announce Jeremy Pruitt “is still our defensive coordinator.”
Said Richt on Saturday of the Pruitt rumor: “That made zero sense.”
Following the win, Richt said his players, coaches and staff “did a really good job of staying focused on what was important and handling a lot of things swirling around.”
Added Richt: “When you hit that kind of adversity, things can go one way or the other, and it went the right way. I’m proud of everybody.”
Richt turned back to Lambert after a failed experiment with Faton Bauta, who threw four interceptions as the starter in last week’s 27-3 loss to Florida.
Lambert was on the field for all of Georgia’s scoring drives. The Virginia transfer said he has been benched “many times” before.
“Going through what I went through at Virginia kind of prepared me,” he said.
Lambert completed 6 of 13 passes for 64 yards with one touchdown.
Brice Ramsey played behind Lambert. Running back Michel and wide receivers Terry Godwin and Isaiah McKenzie also took direct snaps in what Georgia calls “wild dog” formations.
Godwin, a freshman, recovered his own fumble and then took off on a 28-yard scoring run for Georgia’s first touchdown.
He said the short time needed to reclaim the loose ball “gave us time to open up room in the defense.”
“I think we had it in us,” said Godwin of the formation. “It was just time to break it out.”
Kentucky (4-5, 2-5) was hurt by three turnovers, including Patrick Towles’ two interceptions. The Wildcats managed only 180 total yards.
“That was a pretty good beating by Georgia, a very good football team that had their backs against the wall and responded way better than we did,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. “… It was very difficult for us to move the ball.”
Towles completed only 8 of 21 passes for 96 yards with the two interceptions. Drew Barker replaced Towles in the fourth quarter.
“I thought I made good decisions today, I just didn’t throw the football that well,” Towles said.
Kentucky’s only points came on a 32-yard field goal by Austin MacGinnis late in the first half. Jojo Kemp led the Wildcats with 48 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Georgia ran for a season-high 300 yards. Keith Marshall had 13 carries for 60 yards and a 10-yard touchdown catch.
Seven Georgia players had carries.
The Bulldogs shuffled their starting offensive line. Right guard Dyson Sims made his first start, Isaiah Wynn moved from left guard to left tackle, switching spots with Kolton Houston. Sims replaced Greg Pyke, who played a backup role.
Lambert led the Bulldogs to a 10-0 lead before Ramsey entered the game for a possession late in the opening quarter.
Ramsey ran the offense for two possessions, including one that ended with a lost fumble following a catch by Isaiah McKenzie.
Then it was back to Lambert, who led two third-quarter touchdown drives as Georgia stretched its modest 10-3 halftime lead.
Ramsey completed 4 of 6 passes for 26 yards.
A rainy Saturday morning and the forecast for more rain contributed to several thousand empty seats.