Inconsistent Offense Comes Up Short

ATHENS— The Georgia offense, having scored one touchdown in it's past seven quarters, faced a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter against No. 12 Arkansas.

Bulldogs' coach Mark Richt stood before the entire team to the sideline and forced them to take a knee as he lectured his point home.

"He told us to keep fighting," said junior receiver Israel Troupe.

After struggling to put points up to that point, the Bulldogs managed to reel off two touchdowns in less than four minutes. The sudden offensive success was a credit to perseverance, coach Mark Richt said.

"You know people just started making plays," said senior receiver Kris Durham. "That's what you build off of, is people making plays. We got the ball rolling and we started accomplishing."

The successful segment displayed many good examples of a promising Bulldogs' offense.

Quarterback Aaron Murray, who finished 15-of-27, for 253 yards, connected with senior receiver Kris Durham on a 45-yard strike to set up the first score.

Redshirt sophomore Tavarres King dove into the end zone to complete the first touchdown after slipping through two tackles. Then, Washaun Ealey drove up the middle of the Arkansas defense to tie the game with a three-yard run.

On the way to the end zone, the offense diversified often. Logan Gray took a snap from quarterback and rushed. Ealey took a direct snap. Murray hit five different receivers.

This was the offense most had expected to see from the very beginning of the season.

"I think throughout the game on offense we had our sparks here-and-there," Murray said. "Throughout the first half we had sparks here and there, we just weren't finishing drives. I felt we moved the ball well today; just certain times we weren't finishing the drives when we needed to. Other times we started up strong and also finished it. I think that's a positive for us."

The offense took possession with less than three minutes to play at the 40-yard line.

Instead of riding the wave of momentum, the drive only lasted three plays and six yards. After two touchdowns in less than four minutes, the offense couldn't muster a few first downs to get in position for a game-winning field goal attempt.

"All we needed was about 15 or 20 yards and (kicker Blair Walsh) could have put it in for us," Murray said. "We were close. We definitely had our shot to win it. It definitely hurts knowing we had our shot and we couldn't win the game."

The jumpstart to the scoring and subsequent crash back to a three-and-out is the mark of an inconsistent offense, Murray indicated. "It's just one of those things; sometimes you're faced with adversity and it's how you respond," Durham, who finished with five catches for 101 yards, said. "We were faced with a lot of adversity in the fourth quarter. We tried to show some character."

Looking at the game as a whole, Georgia finished 6-of-15 on third-down conversions.

Georgia finished with 19 first downs, but nine came in the fourth quarter.

On three occasions, Murray was sacked on third down, including on the pivotal third-and-fourth play with less than a minute to go.

In total, Murray was sacked six times and scrambled past the line-of-scramble another 14 times.

"I think a couple of times I held (the ball) a tad bit too long," Murray said.

Murray shouldered some of the blame, but the line was in flux entering the game, with Tanner Strickland making his first career start in place of senior Chris Davis. Junior Trinton Sturdivant was inserted during the game at tackle, sliding senior Clint Boling to guard.

"I don't know," Boling said. "I haven't really seen how Trinton and Tanner played. We'll have to go back and watch tape and then reevaluate."

The fact that no tight end caught a pass is perhaps the most glaring statistic in the box score from Saturday.

The position group has long been viewed as a team strength coming into the season, but has only four combined catches in three games.

"I don't know why they didn't have any catches today," Troupe, who had one catch for 16 yards, said. "Teams have been gameplanning to stop them from catching passes. They've been blocking well though."

And still, the overriding thought to contemplate of the day was: Where would this offense be with star receiver A.J. Green?

"It would definitely be nice to have him out there," Murray said. "The other guys out there—the other receivers caught the ball when I put the ball out there in the right spot for them to catch it. They all caught them. I think all the passes by me that were good throws by me I think they caught them. Those guys made plays for me."

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