The No. 9 Bulldogs (7-2, 4-2 SEC) looked ready to do just that when they had a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line. Then the breakdowns started.
On first down, a player who was supposed to go in motion forgot, and
Michael Cooper was stuffed for no gain. The next play, the Bulldogs were
flagged for a false start, backing them up to the 14-yard line. Georgia
then called a timeout to regroup but on the next play running back Kregg Lumpkin lined up on the wrong side of a shotgun formation and left David Greene wide open for a vicious Travis Harris sack.
The result was a third-and-goal from the 21-yard line, and the Bulldogs
had to settle for a field goal on the way to 16-13 loss.
"Those are the little things that are keeping us from being
Georgia had 24 first downs and 390 yards against the Gators but barely
managed to get double digits in points.
"What that tells me is we're pecking away at people, but what we're
missing more than anything is the big play," Georgia coach Mark Richt
said. "That's been the biggest problem."
In the three games since Georgia's 41-point, 414-yard effort against
Tennessee, it has just seven plays of more than 20 yards. The result of
that has been long drives and more opportunities for drive-killing
mistakes like the ones against the Gators.
"We may have fewer big plays than I can ever remember," Richt
Georgia is third in the SEC in first downs (187) and second in
third-down conversions (45 percent) but is tied for last in touchdowns
(25). The Dogs have just two touchdown plays of more than 30 yards this
The reasons for the lack of explosion vary, but the blocking of the
offensive line is the most noticeable. Georgia has allowed a league-high
29 sacks. On the Bulldogs' first two pass attempts against Florida,
Greene was sacked for a loss of 15 yards.
"Some of the things I wanted to do to take shots down the field were
going to take more protection," Richt said, "and we weren't protecting
very well at the beginning."
Said senior receiver Michael Johnson: "Without our line, we can't get
anything started. It's the time of the season now we can't say they're
young anymore. We have to get the job done. They have to man up and
learn from their mistakes. There are no more excuses for it."
Offensive line coach Neil Callaway said his unit has "obviously made
some boo-boos" but added, "I think we're OK."
There are other concerns.
Senior tight end Ben Watson wondered aloud this week about his role. He
led the team in catches against Tennessee and UAB but caught just one
pass against Vanderbilt and none against the Gators.
"I have to get a better plan for him," Richt said. "I think
enough said on that."
Some receivers who are getting chances aren't converting. Drops have
hindered the Bulldogs all season, including against Florida, when Fred Gibson dropped three critical passes.
"I stayed in the house the whole day (Sunday) I felt so
Gibson said. "(But) it's not like it's a thing I can't come back
The combination of young linemen and running backs, and sporadic pass
catching have caused Greene's numbers to plummet. He has thrown eight
interceptions in the last six games and is ninth in the SEC in passing
efficiency (127.4). Last year, he led the league (137.3) on the way to
being first-team All-SEC.
"He's had to learn to work with his line and to trust his line,"
said. "It's been pretty tough on him, but I think he's doing a good job.
He's still David, and I have faith in him."
Greene's 188 yards against the Gators were his lowest total of the
season, but he said he's satisfied with his performance and feels like
he's a better quarterback this year than in his first two seasons. He
added he's not concerned about the whispers of "slump."
"If it's Coach Richt saying it, then I'd be worried," he said.
The Bulldogs will use their off week to try to get back in an offensive
rhythm, Richt said. Georgia plays Auburn on Nov. 15.
"To get some of our timing back with our skill players, I think that
will go a long way," Richt said.
Lingering Doubts on Offense
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