CLEMSON, S.C.–From the postgame scene outside the locker room, here’s some quotes and notes after Georgia’s 38-35 loss to Clemson Saturday night:
—Todd Gurley’s 75-yard touchdown run with 9:17 left in the first quarter for Georgia was electric, but it was also quite costly.
Gurley strained his quad on the play and receiver Malcolm Mitchell hurt his knee in the aftermath.
“He jumped up to celebrate with him and when he came down he hurt his knee,” coach Mark Richt said.
Mitchell’s injury is the more severe.
Asked about the status of Mitchell and Gurley for next Saturday’s game against South Carolina
“My best guess is that Malcom could be (affected),” Richt said. “Gurley, it’s 50-50, I guess. I just don’t know on that one. I’ve got a feeling (Mitchell’s) might be worse than Todd’s. He just hurt his knee. We’ve got to find out.”
Asked about players consoling Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley said: “He’s our brother. He fights with us every day. Anytime you’re brother goes down, man, you have to be there to pick him up and let him know we’re there for him and we’re praying for him.”
Gurley was available for interviews after the game so his obviously wasn’t too serious. He rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
“Todd went out, Malcolm Mitchell goes out,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “Those are probably our two most explosive playmakers on offense. I thought Keith (Marshall) ran extremely hard when he was in there. He got a little worn down. We kind of hit a little bit of a lull there, but they adjusted defensively and made some plays.”
–Bobo made it clear that he feels one loss won’t define Georgia’s season.
“People are going to feel like the season’s lost but it’s not,” Bobo said. “We’ve got a lot of football to play. We’ve got to regroup because we’ve got a very good team coming into our place next Saturday.”
Richt was asked why kicker Marshall Morgan, arrested for boating under the influence, didn’t play.
“Because we didn’t let him play,” Richt said.
Asked if he was suspended, Richt said: “Well, what do you want? I just didn’t let him play. I didn’t let him play.”
–Aaron Murray completed 20 of 29 passes for 323 yards with no touchdowns an interception and was sacked four times.
“At the end of the day, we gave up pressure and we didn’t open up that much holes and Aaron’s jersey was dirty,” said offensive tackle Kolton Houston said. “Anytime the quarterback’s jersey is dirty, we’ve got room to improve.”
Bobo said he thought the line “played well,” but “a couple of times we got whipped and a couple of times we may have held on to the ball a little bit too long instead of getting off our primary.” He said guard Chris Burnette “went down a couple of times.” John Theus came in at right guard. Houston said that he figured that he played about 75 percent of the snaps at right tackle in his first college game.
On one sack, Murray was hit and fumbled. Houston appeared to get beat on the play.
“Overall, I thought he played pretty good,” Richt said. “The fumble was unfortunate. We’ve got to squeeze the ball better. That was a tough turnover right there and cost us the short field and seven points. The pick, that happens sometimes. It was a good scheme. Their backside defensive end dropped into coverage, they had what we call a firezone. …We had a route that was breaking from left to right and he let the ball loose he didn’t see the guy on the backside. And off a play fake. It’s not like you’ve dropped back in the pocket and could see the whole field.”
–Nobody really could have been surprised that Georgia gave up 38 points to Clemson, which brought back firepower in third-year starter Tajh Boyd and junior wideout Sammy Watkins.
The Bulldogs started three freshmen on defense, were missing suspended starting safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and looked like a unit in transition.
“The difference was we gave up too many easy points on a missed tackle, wheel routes, eyes were not where they needed to be,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “The teams we’re getting ready to play don’t really care if we’re freshmen or not. To me, it’s not where we are today, it’s where we’re going to be the next week and the week after and moving forward. There’s a lot of football left. We didn’t get it done today. We’ve got to learn from that and move on because there’s a lot of good teams left to play and they’re going to be gunning for us.”
He said he was pleased with the effort. “We did some things well, but we didn’t do enough to beat a top-10 team.”
—Murray called the atmosphere “crazy” in Death Valley, which made communicating tough. Richt said it wasn’t much different than what Georgia usually sees on the road.
Georgia had nine penalties for 84 yards.
“Our biggest challenge was overcoming some adversity, some self-inflicted wounds that we put on ourself,” Bobo said. “Turnovers and penalties and taking some sacks.”
Said Richt: “The delay of game, it was our fault as coaches. We did a bad job of getting them out on the field quickly enough, especially to be running a play where we get into our cadence and try to make a change to try to see what they’re in. It just takes too much time.”
–Georgia had 545 yards of total offense and 35 points.
“Moving the ball’s fun and all that,” Richt said, “but winning the game is what it’s about. We’re not going to celebrate that.”
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer