Georgia coach Mark Richt didn't think Mississippi State players were intentionally trying to disrespect the Bulldog Nation by jumping on the "G" painted at midfield on the turf at Sanford Stadium.
But his players certainly didn't feel that way.
"This our field. We take pride in between the hedges and we want everybody to know we're going to try to protect this place. It's our place and we don't like anybody disrespecting our G," senior center Ben Jones said. "We were going to let them know that they weren't going to walk into our house, do that and not expect a fight from us. We definitely gave them a fight."
Things got a bit dicey before cooler heads prevailed.
As each team were getting ready to leave the field following warm-ups just prior to the game, the entire MSU team stopped and gathered on the G before heading to the locker room.
Almost immediately, virtually the entire Bulldog team responded, charging over for one large midfield pow-wow.
Although there was some pushing and shoving, no punches were thrown and after some back-and-forth jawing, both teams trudged off the field.
"I didn't see it but one of the officials came to me. Somehow, our players thought that Mississippi State was disrespecting our emblem, our G, and from what the official told me I don't think they had any intention of doing that at all," Richt said. "But somehow or the it got to the point
where I was, in the end zone, I saw everybody gathering on the G so I knew something was up. It reminded me of the old Florida State, Florida days when it seemed like there was always going to be some kind of issue in pre-game warm-ups. Now, the end result for our guys, they got hot, it got their blood running and I think it helped us start fast."
It certainly appeared to do that.
After Cornelius Washington sacked Chris Relf to force a punt on MSU's opening drive, it took the offense just three plays to score the first touchdown on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Orson Charles.
But even after the 24-10 win, Georgia players were still steaming.
"That's total disrespect. They showed right there that they didn't respect us. For anybody to come in here and think they're going to step on our G?" linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "Nobody's going to step on our G. We're the only ones who can step on our G. We love the G, Bulldog Nation is stronger than ever. We just can't let that happen."
Even freshman Isaiah Crowell took great offense to what had occurred.
"It was a sign of disrespect," Crowell said. "We just had to go on field and show them who the real Bulldogs were and the outcome shows that we did that."
Georgia was without the services of both wide receiver Israel Troupe and offensive guard Chris Burnette for Saturday's game.
Burnette missed his second straight contest with a knee injury, while Troupe did not dress out due to a knee bruise.
• Running back Ken Malcome did not dress out, but was on the sideline after returning to the team following his one-day hiatus.
• Alec Ogletree was walking without the use of a crutch or his protective boot. According to UGA officials, he is still approximately three weeks away from returning.
• Cornerback Damian Swann did not play due to his hip-flexor injury. He hopes to be back for next Saturday night's game at Tennessee.
• Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten did not play for the second straight game after suffering a concussion in a minor car accident late last week.
•Cornerback Brandon Boykin took a couple of shots, once to the mouth and another which caused his help to jam into his lip, apparently loosening some teeth, Richt said.
Richt doesn't bite on midfield conversation
After the game, television cameras showing Richt and MSU coach Dan Mullen having what appeared to be a heated conversation.
Richt was asked about the incident, but if there was some substance to it, he wasn't saying.
"Like I've always said, all the coaches in the league have a tremendous amount of respect for each other and I like Dan," Richt said. "We were just talking about our teams. He thinks we've got pretty darn good football team. We were just talking about who we are going to play next week."
Short-yardage attempts fail miserably
Twice Georgia needed about the length of a football to pick up what would have been some key first downs against Mississippi State.
Once, they didn't make it on third down. On the second, Richt reached for a field goal on a fourth-and-1 from the MSU 5, only to have a bad snap result in a botched attempt giving Mullen's squad back the ball.
Both times, the fans booed.
"Yeah, there were a couple of times they probably didn't like it," Richt said. "The one time we were backed up (at the Georgia 33) I saw no reason. First of all it was third and inches, if you want to make it on third and inches, make it. We didn't make it. You want to go for it fourth-and-inches and give it to them on the 35? I don't want to do that."
Richt concedes the decision not to go for the first on fourth-and-1 was a tough one to make.
The field goal attempt after the turnover I could see where the fans probably weren't too excited about that. That's a tough decision, but you do want to get a game where it's in position to be, I think we would have been up by three touchdowns if we had made that kick, which is a good thing. It's good to be up by three touchdowns."
Bulldog players tried to convince Richt to go for the first down.
"I'm not happy. I don't like to be put in that position, quite frankly, especially the third-and-1 and we got nothing," he said. "Then it would have been, 'Oh, we're going to get it this time' and all the players want to do it. Well, you know what? Make it the first time.
"It would have been nice to knock it in and get another touchdown, and maybe I should have, I don't know. But the bottom line, at that time the goal in the game was it was still worth going up by three touchdowns in my opinion. Of course, that's when the snap went bad and then there's one more thing to boo about."
This and that
Junior cornerback Sanders Commings had his first interception of the year and his fifth of his career late in the second quarter deep in UGA territory. Junior tailback Carlton Thomas ran in a 7-yard touchdown later to give the Bulldogs a 21-3 lead.
Junior safety Shawn Williams intercepted the first pass of his career, with 1:11 left as the Bulldogs ran out the clock. Georgia has forced 11 turnovers and converted them into 34 points.
Junior inside linebacker Mike Gilliard led the way with nine stops while junior free safety Bacarri Rambo, Boykin and freshman Amarlo Herrera had six apiece.
Redshirt freshman receiver Michael Bennett made his first start for the Bulldogs. Also, junior Christian Robinson returned to action in the first quarter after missing the last two games with a foot injury. He got in just over 20 plays. Junior receiver Marlon Brown played for the first time in two weeks after injuring his ankle.
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]