After averaging nearly 11 penalties a game for the first six contests of the season, Georgia's players were worn out.
The coaching staff had spent the past three weeks sending constant reminders that the excess flags were simply unacceptable – reminders that came in the form of running. Lots of running.
So when the Bulldogs were whistled for just five penalties against Vanderbilt, there was more than just a sigh of relief in the locker room after the game.
"That was the biggest celebration in the locker room when they heard we had five or less," Richt said.
For the first six games of his career, Blair Walsh hadn't missed a field goal inside 50 yards. Last week against Tennessee, he battled migraines and a cold but still managed to knock all four of his kicks through the uprights.
This week, however, it was a different story, as the freshman missed kicks from 37 and 40 yards out.
"He's fine, he just missed them," Richt said. "I don't think he would make up any excuse at all."
The missed field goals worried Richt enough, however, that in the final minute of the game with Georgia at the Commodores' 35 yard line, Walsh nearly didn't get another chance to seal the win. As it turned out, Knowshon Moreno picked up 12 yards on the next play, and Richt sent his kicker back onto the field for some redemption. Walsh hit a 39-yarder with just 17 seconds left to put the Bulldogs up by 10.
"I was glad he got a chance to get that last one," Richt said. "I was debating what to do. If you go for it and miss it, you're sitting there where they could tie the game with just one play. If Knowshon didn't make that last run, we might have just punted that sucker out of the end zone to make them go 80 and not give them any chance for a return."
TIME RUNNING OUT
Georgia won't return to Sanford Stadium again this season until its last game of the year against Georgia Tech on Nov. 29. The long absence from home was enough to remind many of the seniors that they'll have just one more chance to play in front of a home crowd in their careers.
"It's weird because I remember my first like it was yesterday," wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said. "All the guys here, you try to play a little bit harder. We don't come back here for five weeks, so you just want to play as hard as you can when you get these opportunities. Very few people get the chance to play between the hedges."
Safety CJ Byrd said he felt a little extra motivation to put on a strong showing in his penultimate performance at Sanford Stadium, but he didn't want to lose focus on the big picture.
"Last homecoming, second-to-last game at home – it definitely meant a lot to me," Byrd said. "But we're thinking about the next game, and we've got to get that win."