The protection from the offensive line and the tackling on defense are two of the biggest concerns to come out of Georgia’s 38-35 loss to Clemson on Saturday night.
We’ve addressed them in stories already this week, but here are two factors to consider that we didn’t touch on much.
Playing at home, coaches and players say, will help the line.
Georgia was forced to rely on a silent cadence against Clemson’s home crowd, which played into the pass protection problems some. Clemson racked up four sacks and forced a fumble.
Quarterback Aaron Murray said David Andrews even had trouble hearing him when he was behind center, but he wasn’t blaming it all on crowd noise.
“We made mistakes and we can’t make those kind of mistakes in big-time games and expect to win them,” Murray said.
On the tackling, the injuries at safety in the preseason left Georgia’s hands tied some to a certain extent.
“It was kind of tough to get better when guys weren’t practicing,” coach Mark Richt said. “We have a lot of healthy bodies right now and I think it’s going to help us practice with some physicality.”
Safety Connor Norman said the team went “live” during the camp portion of the preseason and after but that’s just practice.
“Games are obviously different than practice,” Norman said. “That’s something we’ve really got to improve.”
Richt said Georgia didn’t want to risk further injury at safety to a beat-up bunch and the fact that Josh Harvey-Clemons was already out with his one-game suspension also hurt the depth.
So Georgia backed off some in the week before Clemson because of injuries.
“It’s concerning when you see people score a touchdown off of a play that ought to be a 10-yard gain,” Richt said. “That’s a problem obviously. Believe me, Clemson missed a bunch of tackles, too, but they won the game so nobody’s talking about it.”
He hopes having junior Corey Moore and sophomore Harvey-Clemons at safety against South Carolina “will equate into better tackling.”
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