ATHENS, Ga. – Mark Richt said it reminded him of a previous job and those old Florida State-Florida meetings.
Georgia coaches hold back Orson Charles during a pregame altercation Saturday at midfield between the two teams. (Photo by Corey Dowlar)
“It seemed like there was always going to be some kind of issue in pregame warm-up,” Richt said.
What happens when bulldogs get together?
There can be a little snarling, maybe some barks and growls.
And that is what happened leading up to Georgia’s 24-10 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. The two teams collided in midfield at the end of pregame warm-ups, and while it fell short of a brawl with physical harm done by either side, there was plenty of jawing that Georgia's players said impacted the start of the game.
“They disrespected us,” Georgia tight end Orson Charles said. “They were on our ‘G,’ and they disrespected our teammates. As a player or as a person, I am not going to let my teammate go into war by himself.”
“It put us in a mood to go out there and stop them,” Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson said. “Try and win the game, but just beat them so that they wouldn’t want to come back here.”
The incident began with Mississippi State’s final punt of warm-ups, which carried in the wind near the ‘G’ logo in midfield at Sanford Stadium. When a visiting player caught that punt, MSU teammates gathered around him near that logo.
Georgia’s played responded immediately. Very quickly, both teams were gathered opposing one another before the game. Game officials were a little slow to arrive and separate teams, and when they did, Georgia’s players basically escorted a line of Mississippi State players back to the locker room while enticing home fans along the way.
Mark Richt speaks to officials prior to Saturday's game. (Photo by Corey Dowlar)
“I saw them running up and jumping on the ‘G.’ I knew that was a mistake,” Robinson said. “You just don’t do that. (MSU quarterback Chris) Relf was up in my face. I said, ‘OK, you can win now, but we’ll win the game.’ They picked before the game to try to set the tone. We set it on the field.”
UGA nose guard John Jenkins said he thought some of the emotion stemmed from last season, when Mississippi State won 24-12 in Starkville. It was a game that Georgia player said this past week stuck with them.
“I wasn’t here last year, but a lot of blood boiling from last year, and it was let loose at the beginning of the game,” Jenkins said. “It got the whole stadium going.”
Contrasting with what some UGA players said they witnessed, Coach Mark Richt said officials told him that Mississippi State was not stomping on the logo, best they could tell.
“Somehow or another, our players thought that Mississippi State was disrespecting our emblem, our ‘G,’” Richt said. “From what the official told me, I don’t think they had any intention of doing that at all. … Now the end result for us was our guys, their blood got hot. It got their blood running, and I think it helped us start fast.”
Georgia scored its first touchdown at the 11:53 mark of the first quarter, adding two more before halftime in obtaining a 21-3 lead that Mississippi State never overcame.
“I don’t know what they were doing, but it stirred us up a little bit,” UGA quarterback Aaron Murray said. “It definitely pumped us up. In the locker room, guys were fired up, pushing each other, hitting each other. We were ready to go.”