How did Georgia lose the 1st Game?

Statistically speaking, Georgia Dominated the first matchup between Georgia and LSU. Where did it go wrong, and can it be corrected?

Georgia had seven more first downs.
Had 134 more passing yards. 
Had 126 more yards in total offense. 
Had two fewer penalties and averaged 1.3 more yards per play.

Also gave up three more sacks, missed three more field goals, and had one more turnover, and that's how Georgia lost 17-10 to LSU in the team's first meeting on Sept. 22.

A record crowd of 92,251 watched No. 11 LSU and No. 7 Georgia go at it, the Tigers beating a top 10 team for the first time in six years and giving Mark Richt his first loss at Georgia on an opponent's field.

It was, said LSU coach Nick Saban, "a real street fight." It also wasn't overly pretty for either offense, but it had suspense.

Georgia tied it late on a 93-yard touchdown pass from David Greene to Tyson Browning, but LSU - after a 48-yard kickoff return - won it with 1:22 left when quarterback Matt Mauck rolled left, Georgia cornerback Tim Jennings left his man, and his man, one Skyler Green, roamed free to catch the game-winner.

While running the wrong route.

"That's called the 'What's he doing?' play," Mauck said.

The Bulldogs would get inside LSU's 30 on five occasions in the first half and get only three points.

They came early. Georgia finally struck with 6:20 left in the first quarter after stalling at LSU's 16. After three incomplete passes, Billy Bennett his a 33-yard field goal.

His day went downhill after that. Bennett's missed seven field goal tries all year. Three came at LSU.

"I just missed them," he said after the game. "It wasn't the snap, it wasn't the hold, it wasn't the line, it wasn't the other team. I missed the field goals."

One miss came after offsetting penalties negated a kick and forced Bennett back out onto the field. The fact that Georgia couldn't punch it into the end zone again was another issue.

"Anytime you play a good team like LSU, you can't fall short, especially down in the red zone," quarterback David Greene said. "We shot ourselves in the foot."

LSU answered fairly late in the second quarter with a 6-play, 85-yard drive during which the Tigers never faced a third down. Georgia came right back and marched from its 21 to LSU's 22 before a three-yard pass and two incompletions forced Bennett back out for a 36-yarder. He hit the upright.

"The problem was," Richt said afterward, "it came down to us not making the plays they made."

The Tigers added a 47-yard field goal with 6:23 left in the third quarter, and the Bulldogs offense continued to muddle.

One huge key for LSU's defense was the ability of the line to regularly anticipate Greene's timing on passes. The Tiger line and linebackers were credited with seven pass deflections, including two from senior defensive tackle Chad Lavalais.

"From watching film all week, we noticed that he's not really looking down field a lot," Lavalais told reporters after the game. "He's really just looking to dump it off to hit the out routes or dump it off to the backs."

Greene left the game for two series with a knee injury, and LSU smothered backup quarterback D.J. Shockley.

Greene was picked off on the first play of the fourth quarter, and LSU threw it back awhile later.

After a holding penalty yanked Georgia backward, Greene dumped it to Browning to the left, and he raced 93 yards for the tying touchdown with 4:25 left.

After LSU went ahead, Georgia had a chance, taking over on its 15 with 1:16 left. But on first-and-10 from LSU's 43, Tiger cornerback Corey Webster intercepted Greene to seal the win.

"I was just reading his eyes, and when he looked up I turned around," Webster told reporters. "I knew it was coming. I turned around, and the ball was right there. I'm always trying to tip the ball to myself. It worked again."

Georgia's defense, meanwhile, kept standout wide receiver Michael Clayton in check with only two catches, his season low (also coming against South Carolina). And in the first half, Georgia held LSU without a first down on six straight possessions.

But the last drive overshadowed all that, the Tigers starting off on their 49 and eating up nearly three minutes before scoring the game-winner.

And now, 11 weeks later, the rematch.

"We're playing to defend our title. They've got national championship hopes," Georgia defensive end David Pollack said earlier this week. "It's the 2001 SEC champs vs. the 2002 SEC champs to decide the 2003 SEC champs."

Dawg Post Top Stories