ATLANTA — For once, playing as a team is not such a good thing for Georgia.
Coach Mark Richt said Sunday the Bulldogs deserve equal blame in every area following Saturday’s lopsided 45-19 loss at Tennessee.
The loss left the Bulldogs 3-3 overall for the first time in Richt’s nine seasons in Athens. Georgia returns to the state of Tennessee this week for Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt.
"We’ve got to get better period," Richt said. "We’ve got to get better on offense. We’ve got to get better on defense. We’ve got to get better in all ways. We’ve got to get better coaching.
"I guess what I’m saying is where we are right now is a culmination of everything and I’m not pointing the finger at any one individual. We all have to improve."
Richt said the coaching staff must "make sure when we put a plan in, that it’s not too much and that our team is capable of doing what we want to do."
Georgia’s offensive woes were noteworthy. The Bulldogs did not have a red zone possession, and their only touchdowns came on an interception return and a kickoff return.
"There’s been some other frustrating games, but this one ranks up there pretty good," Richt said when asked if he has ever had so many problems in a game on offense.
Losses in back-to-back weeks to LSU and Tennessee left Georgia 2-2 in the Southeastern Conference. A close loss at home to LSU was disappointing, but the loss to the Vols, who did not have a previous SEC win, was much more troubling.
After a scoreless first quarter, Georgia gave up 38 points in the second and third.
Joe Cox was only 19 for 34 passing for 146 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
"I think Joe played better in the first half than in the second half," Richt said. "I think Joe took a couple shots that might have shook him up a little bit."
Richt didn’t lay all the blame on Cox.
"If we’re going to be successful at quarterback period, we’ve got to run the ball better and pass protect better," he said.
The Bulldogs’ leading rusher was Carlton Thomas with only 30 yards. Freshman Washaun Ealey managed only 18 yards on 10 carries.
Confidence could be a concern this week. Richt said there won’t be wholesale changes or open tryouts in practice.
"Guys are always fighting for positions," he said. "But I think there’s a reason we have guys in certain spots. They have proved to be the best man for the job. But week to week if a guy doesn’t get the job done, there’s always a chance he moves his slot. We’re not going to have open tryouts or anything like that.
"You can get a knee-jerk reaction sometimes and make decisions that you probably shouldn’t make. We’re not going to sit here and make a bunch of wholesale changes right at this second. But if there are changes, we’ll know for sure by Tuesday."
Georgia gave up more than 40 points in each of its three losses last season. It has had to win two shootouts this season, 41-37 over South Carolina and 52-41 at Arkansas.
"It’s not what we were accustomed to at Georgia, that’s for sure," Richt said when asked about the defense. "It’s definitely something that’s got to be corrected."
Richt said turnovers have hurt the defense.
"But the bottom line is you’ve got to perform and we haven’t performed as well as I would like our defense to perform," he said.