Dogs look for better execution vs. MTSU

ATHENS — Quality is job one for a national automaker. At Georgia, it's execution. To the naked eye, the Bulldogs' 30-0 win Saturday at Clemson was very much a thing of beauty.

It had big plays, a defense as smothering as the heat, and no injuries. The ride back was short, and the buses were certainly filled with laughter and high-fives.

Then came Sunday's film sessions, and the Bulldogs staff was a little unsettled to see how fortunate Georgia may have been. There wasn't as much back-patting around the practice fields as there was among fans. The defense emerged a little less scathed than the offense, but not by much.

"We were fortunate we got away with it a few times," said defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder. "We had our share of mistakes. But we avoided critical errors. There were a couple of occasions when mental errors could've become critical errors. We just got ourselves through them." Offense was a different story. There were red-zone problems, a so-so third-down conversation rate, and stalled plays that the video revealed as potential scores.

"You really couldn't tell because we were moving the ball pretty well," said quarterback David Greene. "Going back and looking at the film ... maybe if we'd gotten this assignment right, we would've scored. There were probably six or seven times we felt like if we would've had our assignments right — hit the hole right, made the throw — we could've scored."

The Bulldogs' progress is what coaches will be eyeballing today when Georgia hosts Middle Tennessee State — and nearly 7,000 more fans, thanks to stadium expansion — at Sanford Stadium. MTSU safety Brandon Lynch is hoping the Bulldogs haven't worked out all the kinks.

"We can't have any missed opportunities and we have to capitalize on the plays handed to us," he said. "It's a tough task but it's not impossible." Especially if Georgia doesn't sharpen up.

Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Neil Callaway said the line had a decent day against Clemson, but it wasn't an ego-boosting performance.

"I think we did OK," he said. "I don't think we played nearly as good as we need to play. Everybody was involved, not just one particular area up front.

"First time for a couple of 'em, and it showed."

Callaway said the offensive line — the oldest member of whom is a redshirt sophomore — was too tentative.

"We've got to get to the point where we're playing confidently, reckless, don't be timid or shy," he said. "Be aggressive, get downfield and make things happen instead of just standing around and looking." One minor problem was the unavailability of sophomore tackle Max Jean-Gilles, who missed a chunk of the second half with cramps in his quadricep.

"We'd like to get more out of him if we can," understated Callaway. No argument from Jean-Gilles.

"Coach told me 24," he said on how many snaps he had. "I was kind of embarrassed, really."

His goal for this week? "50."

Richt was amazed at the fundamental errors his team made — especially on offense.

He described one situation where Clemson had never shown more than one defensive scheme against a two-tight end, two-wideout formation. Georgia had practiced doing only one thing against the defense.

"It was just the one thing, every time; that's all we practiced against," Richt said. "We lined up in it, they lined up in it, and three guys did the wrong thing. Three out of seven." There was more.

"They'd combination block," he said. "If one guy makes the wrong call, then two guys do the wrong thing."

What aggravated Callaway was how surprising the mistakes were, magnified by studying film.

"I didn't expect to see all the missed assignments," he said. "It wasn't anything we didn't work on. The things they missed, they'd gotten right in practice."

Cracked Jean-Gilles: "The film doesn't lie."

Nonetheless, Richt realizes that to perform inconsistently, yet still achieve the 30-0 result, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"I think the guys were excited about what happened," he said. "But I think hopefully it just whetted their appetite to what can happen in the future."

KICKOFF:  1 p.m.
STADIUM:  Sanford Stadium (92,020), Athens.
TICKETS:  Sold out
KICKOFF WEATHER: Partly sunny, around 80 degrees, 30 percent chance of rain.
SERIES:  First meeting.
ODDS:  Georgia by 29
INJURIES:  TB Kregg Lumpkin (hamstring), and T Bartley Miller (shoulder) are probable; DT Dale Dixson (concussion), DE Preston Pannell
(shoulder), DL Darrell Holmes (shoulder), and G Josh Brock (knee) and C Michael Turner (shoulder) are questionable; DE Marquis Elmore (ankle sprain), DT Ken Veal (ankle), ROV Kentrell Curry (leg), G Josh Brock (knee) are doubtful. DE Will Thompson (ankle), WR Cedric Haywood (knee/ACL), and FS Greg Blue (knee) are out.
NEXTSouth Carolina at Georgia, Sept. 13, 3:30 p.m.; Middle Tennessee State at Clemson, Sept. 13, 4 p.m.

Dawg Post Top Stories