Edwards not dwelling on drops

ATHENS, Ga. — Only two games into his junior season, <b>Terrence Edwards</b> already ranks fourth on Georgia's records with 14 career touchdown catches.<br><br> That's little consolation for Edwards, who knows he should have at least 15.

 If any Georgia player most needed a game this weekend to break free from the memories of last week's loss to South Carolina, it was Edwards.

Coaches and players say the team, not one player, was responsible for the 14-9 loss that left Georgia 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the Southeastern Conference. But based on the discussion on talk radio on the drive out of Athens last week, Edwards was the goat.

Edwards in the Georgia career record book

Category Edwards' total Rank
Career receptions 116 6th
Receiving yards 1,600 7th
TD receptions 14 4th

The decision to postpone this week's scheduled game against Houston, followed by a scheduled off Saturday next week, will only give fans more time to dwell on Edwards' two key drops in the South Carolina game.

Worse, the unexpected off week also will give Edwards more time between games to think about the drops.

In the second quarter, Georgia was driving for a touchdown and had a second-and-goal call from the 8-yard line. Edwards was open but he dropped a would-be touchdown pass. On the next play, David Greene threw an interception. In the fourth quarter, Georgia trailed 7-6 when Edwards dropped a pass for a first down on third-and-11 from the Georgia 34. This time, a frustrated Edwards immediately ran the field, pulling off his helmet as he sat on the bench without talking to a teammate.

Edwards couldn't be blamed for another botched opportunity when a turnover gave the Bulldogs possession at the South Carolina 10 later in the fourth quarter. Two penalties forced Georgia to settle for a field goal.

Edwards, a junior, has 116 career catches and is the team's most experienced and accomplished receiver. Even so, he admitted that the dropped pass in the end zone affected him the rest of the game.

"It's a mental thing after I dropped a touchdown pass that could have put the team up ahead,'' Edwards said. "You say you get over it, but I don't think I did at the time.'' 

Added Edwards: "Never in my whole life had I experienced anything like that before.''

Because Georgia is so deep at receiver and fans are anxious for a longer look at such players as freshman Fred Gibson, there was some talk about benching Edwards — but that talk was all from the fans.

Coach Mark Richt said his only message to Edwards was "Just forget about it.''

Added Richt: "I'm sure the hardest guy on him has been him. No one played a perfect game. Players understand that. I don't see a problem (with Edwards' confidence).''

Said Greene: "Terrence is our go-to guy and he's always going to be our go-to guy. He's proven himself time and time again that he can make the big plays.''

Edwards has enjoyed the spotlight after big games, and he says he is trying to make the most of his bad game.

Edwards says he has clipped a picture of one of the dropped passes and he has posted it in his locker "so that I see it after practice and ask myself ‘Did I get better today?' This will motivate me to go out and play harder.''

Other than senior LaBrone Mitchell, who is a former quarterback, Edwards is the only upperclassman with any significant experience among the receivers. Sophomores Damien Gary and Reggie Brown are the other top receivers, though sophomore Michael Johnson and Gibson are close behind.

Though there are ample alternatives at the position, expect Edwards to be back in the starting lineup against Arkansas on Sept. 29.

"They told me right after the game that they didn't take me out because they had so much confidence in me,'' Edwards said. "That's just one of those things that happen. If they do that, that can break a person's confidence for the whole year. I don't think they'll do that.''

Said Greene: "You can't make every catch. He's still our leader out there among receivers. Nobody has lost any confidence in him.''

Charles Odum can be reached via e-mail at CEOdum@aol.com.

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