Coaches, players stumped by offensive woes

COLUMBIA, S.C. - With Northwestern State and New Mexico State scheduled to visit Athens the next two weeks, Georgia will be favored to extend its hard-fought 2-0 start to 4-0.

But by the time Georgia visits Alabama on Oct. 5 and then plays host to Tennessee on Oct. 12, the offensive misadventures which have marked the first two games will no longer be good enough to produce wins.  After being held to 297 total yards  and no touchdowns in Saturday night's 13-7 win over South Carolina, the Georgia offense is on two-week notice. 

Answers must be found against Northwestern State and New Mexico State. Perhaps a review of the game film will produce answers, but as of Saturday night, there were no explanations from Georgia coaches or players after the Bulldogs' only touchdown came on an interception in the end zone by defensive end David Pollack

"Of course we know the biggest problem is offense,'' Richt said. "Right now we're a little snakebit. For whatever reason, we're just inches away from making the plays we need to make. We've got to start making them pretty soon here or we'll not be able to make a run at it.'' 

The good news is that for a second straight game, junior tailback Musa Smith rushed for more than 100 yards. Most preseason observers believed the biggest key to Georgia's season was having Smith make a full recovery from the groin injury which hampered his 2001 season.  Smith gained 103 yards on 27 carries against South Carolina and appears to be completely past the injury. Still, Georgia netted only 128 yards rushing because it has not found a second tailback to play behind Smith.  

Given an opportunity in the first quarter, freshman Tyson Browning fumbled at the South Carolina 12-yard line. Browning did not have another carry in the game and the other leading candidate to play behind Smith, Tony Milton, also did not carry the ball.  Georgia's second-leading rusher was quarterback D.J. Shockley, who gained 17 yards on four carries but suffered a broken bone in his left foot that probably will cause him to miss at least the next two games.  

The injury to Shockley temporarily ends the two-quarterback system. Some observers believe that David Greene will produce better consistency on offense if he doesn't have to worry about when he will be pulled in favor of Shockley.  However, no one in the Georgia locker room seems to agree with that theory.  

"We rotate tight ends, we rotate wide receivers, we have different running backs play, we have different linemen play and we have different quarterbacks play,'' said offensive tackle Matt Stinchcomb after the game. "That's not a problem for us. If anything, that's one of the things we have right.''  

Asked if part of the problem could be the two-quarterback system, Richt said "I don't think so. I guess we don't have to worry about it for a few weeks.''  Added Richt: "Why does the quarterback get his foot stepped on and fall down? Why does the back drop the (pass) in the backfield when he has 10 or 15 yards of grass ahead of him? Why do we drop an out route? Why does a lineman get beat in protection?''  

The common response, as offered by Smith, is "Things just are not clicking.''  Added Stinchcomb: "It's frustrating, it really is. For us to be successful, we have to figure out what is holding up the works. For us to come out and have only three points at the half, you scratch your head a little bit.''

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