Georgia Shifts Focus to Gators

ATHENS – Darryl Gamble's two interception returns for touchdowns should have been cause for celebration for the Georgia defense, but LSU's late surge Saturday took the luster off what could have been a dominant performance.

Georgia created 17 points off turnovers, but it was the 38 points the Tigers scored that concerned cornerback Asher Allen, who said the defense fell well short of turning in a complete performance.

"If you look at the scoreboard, you can't say we did," Allen said, "but we definitely shined in certain areas."

Filling in at middle linebacker for injured Dannell Ellerbe, Gamble sparked the defense with an interception on LSU's first play of the game, then capped Georgia's scoring with another pick in the fourth quarter to seal the Bulldogs' 52-38 win.

Allen said the first interception set the tone for the game, but the significance of the second one underscored the rocky overall performance by the defense.

Georgia had opened a 21-point lead late in the third quarter, and the game seemed in hand, but the Tigers battled back behind a run of big plays. LSU was driving to pull within seven before Gamble stepped in front of a Jarrett Lee pass, returning it 53 yards for the score.

The interception sealed the win, but not without plenty of fireworks by the Tigers.

Georgia had held LSU to just 235 yards and 17 points before Knowshon Moreno opened up the three-touchdown lead with a 68-yard run with 3:55 left in the third quarter.

In the final 19 minutes of action, however, the Tigers more than doubled their yardage, racking up 218 yards in the fourth quarter alone. LSU had four plays of at least 20 yards after Moreno's touchdown, including a 66-yard reception by Keiland Williams.

"I think sometimes when you have a three-touchdown cushion late, it's hard not to play a little bit of a prevent look," head coach Mark Richt said. "I think we gave up some big plays in that situation."

The 38 points were the second most Georgia has allowed this season, and LSU's 188 rushing yards marked a season-high by a Bulldogs opponent.

Rather than dwelling on those numbers, however, Richt wanted to focus on the positives – namely the three interceptions of Lee.

"I thought (the defense) played outstanding in some tremendous moments," Richt said. "They got three interceptions, and they scored 14 points, which was the difference in the ballgame."

While the Tigers were able to run the ball effectively at times, Georgia's line also had one of its best performances of the season rushing the passer. Jeremy Lomax, Jarius Wynn and Justin Houston were each in on sacks – the first of the season for Georgia's defensive ends in SEC play – and Lee was under pressure throughout.

"You knew the game was going to be won up front, and going against a big offensive line, the defensive line had success against them, and hopefully that's something we can use to motivate us (this week)," Allen.

The defense will need all the motivation it can get with a date with Florida looming this Saturday. The Gators topped even Georgia's scoring fireworks last week with a 63-5 win over Kentucky.

Against the powerful Florida attack with a potential SEC East title hanging in the balance, Gamble said the defense will have to post as many big plays this week as it did against LSU. As important, however, is eliminating those ugly moments that marred the final quarter in Baton Rouge.

Next week, he said, the Bulldogs don't want to celebrate good moments. They want a complete game.

"I don't think they've seen a complete Georgia yet," Gamble said. "We're knocking on a lot of cylinders right now, but I don't think we've reached our highest potential yet."

Dawg Post Top Stories