Date story was published: Sunday, October 27, 1991
ATHENS, Ga. -- He sat on a folding chair in a small room beside the main locker area. People with notebooks and microphones and questions stood in front of him, to the side of him, but Joey Couch's eyes stared beyond them. Straight ahead. Into the distance.
"I'm tired of being the doormat for everybody," said Kentucky's senior defensive captain, not so much as an answer as thinking out loud. "I guarantee Monday things are going to change for us on defense. I'm gonna see to it. I don't know what I'm going to have to do. But I'm going to do something."
It was that kind of day yesterday at Sanford Stadium. It was Georgia passing for 355 yards, rushing for 283 more. It was tailback Garrison Hearst gaining 158 yards and scoring two touchdowns. It was quarterback Eric Zeier completing 19 of 23 passes for 302 yards and two scores. It was a Bulldog blitz: Georgia 49, Kentucky 27.
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It was, for UK, the season's same sad story.
"To win in any league, you've got to be able to stop the opponent," UK Coach Bill Curry said, "and we didn't do that today. When Georgia needed something, they could always go get it."
And get it. And get it. And get it. The host Dogs rolled up a stunning 638 yards total offense, scored 28 points in the second quarter alone, achieved the school's first 300-yard passing day since 1963 and bounced back from last week's disappointing defeat at Vanderbilt to go 6-2 on the year, 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
"I thought our offense played well," Georgia Coach Ray Goff said.
Kentucky, meanwhile, turned out its highest offensive output of the season (440 total yards; 27 points) and still dropped to 2-5 overall, 0-4 in the SEC for the first time since 1984.
"It's embarrassing," said Couch, UK's starting nose guard.
And frustrating. And old hat. After surrendering back-to-back 500-plus- yard outputs against the SEC's two Mississippi entries, the Cats believed they were on the right track last week, limiting LSU to 362 yards, blaming the 29-26 loss to the Tigers on turnovers, not surrendered touchdowns. But yesterday the UK "D" reverted to its porous form.
Its first four possessions, Georgia marched 69, 65, 60 and 75 yards. It scored touchdowns on all but the second -- that ending at the 1-yard line thanks to a UK goal-line stand, its highlight of the day -- and added another TD with 2:01 left in the second quarter for a 28-13 lead.
Yet when Kentucky answered with a 72-yard, six-play drive, quarterback Pookie Jones hitting Neal Clark on a 13-yard touchdown pass, the Cats were still very much in the shoot-out, trailing 28-20, only 39 seconds before halftime.
That was 36 too many. Taking over at its 43 after a squib kick, Georgia running back Larry Ware went nine yards on another shovel pass. Zeier, the Dogs' fabulous freshman quarterback, hit wideout Damon Evans for first 25 yards, then 12 yards to the UK 11. A face-mask penalty put the ball at the 6. Next play, Zeier lofted a perfect fade pass into the right corner that a leaping Andre Hastings snared for the score.
Three ticks remained in the half. Georgia led 35-20. In the final 2:35 of the half, UK had scored twice and lost ground.
"It was maddening," Couch said. "I don't think I've ever been so mad in my life after a score."
The second half, Kentucky merely fought to keep close. Jones hit tailback Clyde Rudolph for a 27-yard score (Rudolph's second of the game) to pull the visitors to within eight, 35-27, with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter. But that would be the end of UK's scoring.
Georgia had two more remaining. Up 42-27, and after UK failed on a fourth- and-inches quarterback sneak at its own 40 yard-line, Georgia took two plays to cover the distance. Zeier threw 20 yards to tight end Colin Brandon. Ware then motored 20 yards up the middle for the touchdown, Georgia's seventh and final score.
Hearst needed just 16 carries for his career-high 158 yards. Zeier was outstanding, completing 14 of 15 in the first half. "I think he's sensational," Curry said. "He's a tremendous football player, regardless of his class."
"I was happy with the win, but I'm really not tickled about the way we played as a team," Goff said. "I wasn't excited about the intensity we had on defense. We let them get entirely too much yardage."
Even without starting tailback Damon Hood (he sat out the game with a sprained ankle) UK's offense moved most of the afternoon. Before suffering a thigh bruise in the third quarter, Jones completed 10 of 12 passes for 120 yards and rushed for 63 more. Backup quarterback Ryan Hockman, seeing his first action this season, threw for 137 yards, including a 52-yard scoring strike to Rudolph.
But, once again, the defense was nowhere to be found. The 355 passing yards allowed was an all-time high. The 638 total yards allowed missed by 11 the 649 yards Houston's 1966 team gained at old Stoll Field.
"We got blocked on the ground," Curry said, "and then whoever wasn't blocked dove on the ground."
"We were in position to make the tackles, we just didn't make them," linebacker Reggie Smith said. "That's very frustrating."
As it has been all year.
"We were too optimistic at the first of the year to have 49 points scored on us," said Couch, his eyes still focused forward. "We're just going to have to come back Monday and start all over again, start from scratch."