Richt stressing positives as focus turns to Bama

Georgia is the only Southeastern Conference team without a loss, and yet it also must lead the league in "what if'' Sunday questions.

ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia is the only Southeastern Conference team without a loss, and yet it also must lead the league in "what if'' Sunday questions.

Georgia moved to No. 7 in The Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the coaches poll, but it ranks last in the league in average yards per game. That led to more questions about its most puzzling win, a 41-10 decision over New Mexico State Saturday.

There is more to winning ballgames than total offense stats, but when Georgia has been held below 300 yards in three of its four games, the concern is about more than numbers.

As the focus turned to next Saturday's game at No. 22 Alabama,  Coach Mark Richt spent another Sunday bemoaning missed opportunities by his offense.

Georgia (4-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) remained undefeated, but defense and special teams each contributed a touchdown to inflate the margin of victory.

Asked Sunday about his team's last-place ranking in total offense - 333.8 yards per game -  Richt said "Yes, it is surprising to me, too.''

Added Richt: "The big thing for us is we've just missed a lot of opportunities. ... Our skill guys who were highly touted before the season just haven't stepped up to the plate like they are supposed to.''

Most troubling were Richt's count of 10 dropped passes in the game.

Richt said quarterback David Greene would have completed at least 80 percent of his pass attempts if not for the drops. And he said Georgia would have had at least 150 more yards if not for Greene overthrowing some of his passes.

"The combination of some dropped balls and missing some open people have kept him from having a great day,'' said Richt of Greene, who was 19 of 34 passing for 207 yards with two touchdowns and an interception Saturday.

"If he hit every deep ball he should have hit he probably would have thrown for more than 350 yards,'' Richt said.

With the help of a combined five touchdowns from special teams and defense, Georgia ranks fifth in the league in scoring (32.5 points per game) and is first in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 13 points per game.

Richt thought his offense would be in position for a big day after he witnessed a practice on a wet Thursday when his receivers had no drops in 90 minutes of drills.

"I know, isn't that something?'' asked Richt. "I don't know what happened between Thursday and Saturday. We've got to have a no-drop Saturday to have a chance.''

Richt said the good news was that tailback Musa Smith is running well and the offensive line graded well. Overall, missed assignments were down.

Alabama (4-1 overall, 1-0 SEC) is coming off a big offensive game. The Crimson Tide rushed for 267 yards against an Arkansas defense that was ranked first in the nation against the run, and redshirt freshman Brodie Croyle passed for 285 yards in a 30-12 win at Arkansas.

Alabama coach Dennis Franchione kept his quarterback plans a secret last week before giving Croyle his first start ahead of Tyler Watts, who suffered a sprained left foot on Sept. 21 against Southern Miss.

Franchione said Sunday "it will be much later in the week'' before he announces a starting quarterback for the Georgia game.

While stating that "550 yards of offense is a good day against any team,'' Franchione also said "I think the jury is out a little bit on how good Arkansas is.''

Added Franchione: "I have felt like all along this team had the potential to be a good football team, and I think they're proving that.''

ESPN announced Sunday that its GameDay broadcast Saturday will be based in Tuscaloosa for the 3:30 p.m. ET Georgia-Alabama game, even though the game will be televised by CBS.

Franchione said two starters - punter Lane Beardon and center Alonzo Ephraim - were being examined Sunday for knee injuries. Beardon's injury appeared to be more serious.

Charles Odum is the beat writer for Dawg Post in Athens. He has over 20 years of experience covering Georgia football. He can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com

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