Lorenzo Carter typically exudes energy when there are cameras and recorders in front of him, usually offering thoughtful words and detailed responses to reporters no matter the subject.
The senior outside linebacker’s answers were short this time — a sentence or two —clearly taking hard Auburn’s 40-17 thumping of Georgia on Saturday in Auburn, Ala. It was the Bulldogs’ first loss in nearly a year after spending two weeks as the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff ranking.
Asked if he thought the Bulldogs would be able to fight back in the games ahead after a lopsided loss, Carter’s eyes watered up.
“I don’t question the fight,” he said. “That’s it.”
Georgia (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) will try to get back on the winning track this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Kentucky (7-3, 4-3) in Athens in a CBS game. Win that one and at Georgia Tech the week after, and the Bulldogs should still be shooting for a spot in the College Football Playoff in the SEC championship game Dec. 2 against either Alabama or Auburn.
“We’ll use this game as motivation to work even harder, play even harder,” offensive guard Solomon Kindley said. “We easily could see them again in the SEC championship.”
On Sunday, Georgia dropped five spots to No. 7 in both The Associated Press and coaches’ polls, one spot behind Auburn. The previous four times the No. 1 ranked team lost since the playoff rankings began in 2014, the largest margin of defeat was seven points, according to the SEC Network. No playoff team has made the field with a loss of more than 14, according to Yahoo Sports.
The new playoff rankings will come out during a 9 p.m. show Tuesday on ESPN.
Georgia still has a 40 percent chance to make the playoff, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, the sixth best of contenders.
It won’t get there with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel being shut down like they were by Auburn.
They rushed for 17 yards on five carries on the opening touchdown drive and 31 yards on 15 carries thereafter. Georgia was held to 46 yards on 32 carries — its fewest yards against the Tigers since at least 1967.
“They’ve trashed everyone they’ve played up front,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “The running backs have run wild against good defenses. We settled down. We talked about how we were going to have to weather some storms.”
Georgia is weathering its first in the won-loss column this season after its best start since 1982.
“I think this team will answer and respond the right way because we’ve got some good leaders in that room,” coach Kirby Smart. “They want to improve upon what they just showed.”
“This team’s got a lot of fight,” Michel said. “We’re not worried about any championships right now. We’re focused on this next opponent. The next game is the next big game.”
Smart said Auburn had a better game plan and “whipped us physically,” but the job now is to move on to Kentucky, a team Georgia has won seven in a row against.
“You don’t let Auburn beat you twice,” he said.