Georgia’s players and coaches tried to put the best face possible on what the 41-26 loss to No. 25 Missouri Saturday meant to their season.
“I think we will all move on,” senior tight end Arthur Lynch said. “We will start preparing for Vandy tomorrow. Hopefully a week from now we’ll be 5-2, 4-1 in the SEC going into a bye week. We’ll have a chance to get a lot more healthy, a lot more guys back.”
The BCS national title picture, barring something extraordinary, is about over.
“In the really big picture, the national picture, I’d be foolish to sit here and think of trying to think of a scenario where we can get there,” coach Mark Richt said.
The SEC East, though, looks like a free for all.
Missouri is 2-0 and in first place, but gets Florida and South Carolina the next two games without quarterback James Franklin who left the game today with a separated shoulder. Reports by ESPN.com (following up on CBS.com) are that Franklin is out for the rest of the regular season.
Georgia, South Carolina and Florida are now 3-1 in the SEC.
“Just keep winning, just keep getting better,” quarterback Aaron Murray said of Georgia’s second loss on the season. “We’ve got to go back and figure what we did wrong, what we can improve on individually as a team and just get to work Monday and keep grinding.”
Georgia had four turnovers in the game against a Missouri team that has now forced a turnover in 36 straight games. The Bulldogs defense didn’t get a single turnover.
Third down defense was good at times for Georgia, but not good enough.
In the end, Missouri converted on 5 of 12 chances.
“You’ve got to understand the sticks,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “What’s the down and distance? You’re going to play coverages based upon the down and distance. You’ve got to be on them, you’ve got to be able to cover them. If you can do that, you get off the field. If you can’t, you extend drives and when you extend drives, you get more plays, which allows them to be out there, which in turn increases points.”
Georgia outgained Missouri 454-375.
“We had a bunch of yards,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “We just didn’t capitalize in the red zone. Preached all week about red zone offense and getting points and obviously you want touchdowns, but to settle for a field goal and have a turnover down there was tough.”
Missouri averaged 544 yards per game entering. It didn’t approach that, but still scored 41 points (including the scoop and score fumble TD)
“I believe we’re going to be the type of defense that everybody is going to be proud of,” Richt said. “It takes some time. We’ve played some pretty good clubs. No doubt about it. This team was no joke offensively averaging 550 a game and 46 points or whatever it was a game.”
Some other tidbits:
–Bobo, Richt and even players weren’t using the injuries on offense as an excuse.
Tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and receivers Justin Scott-Wesley, Michael Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell didn’t play.
Asked if not having Gurley or Bennett impacted Georgia in the red zone, Bobo said: “We didn’t have Gurley or Bennett so it wasn’t nothing to say we missed. We knew who we had coming into the week. Felt like we had a plan and felt like the guys were executing the plan well. We just didn’t make enough plays.”
Added Richt: “I’m not going to sit here and start talking about if he we had this or that. That’s football. Everybody has injuries. We have injuries. Other teams do, too. Their quarterback went out when the game was a two-point game and they found a way to win.”
–Georgia still had 164 rushing yards, getting 89 from J.J. Green, including a 57-yard gain. Brendan Douglas rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries and had 43 receiving yards on six carries.
“I think they were prepared, we just needed to execute a little bit better,” offensive guard Chris Burnette said.
Georgia wasn’t “paralyzed or handcuffed,” with Green and Douglas, Richt said.
“They played a lot of zone coverage and we knew we had to go to the checkdown and make them tackle the checkdown,” Bobo said. “I thought the backs did a good job of getting where they were supposed to be. They didn’t pressure a lot. They played us with a four man rush and played coverage. That’s what they’ve done all year and slanted and twist up front to make it tough to run inside. I think we found some answers in the second half to run the ball we just weren’t able to finish the game.”
–Gurley (ankle) and safety Tray Matthews (hamstring) could return against Vanderbilt next Saturday.
“We’ll be much more hopeful Todd would play and Tray,” Richt said. “Todd, I’d say this is the first week that we would sit here and say he’s got a realistic shot, but I wouldn’t say, hey, Todd’s full-speed on Monday. We’ll just have to wait and see how much Todd gets better as the week goes along.”
Michael Bennett’s return is expected for the Florida game after the open date.
–Georgia couldn’t muster more late-game heroics, but it thought it was going to be able to pull it out again.
“Even when we were down by 18. We were like `We’re coming back. We’re coming back,’” Lynch said.
– After punts of 34 and 30 yards, Georgia replaced Collin Barber with Adam Erickson at punter. Barber sustained a concussion last week against Tennessee. Richt said the change was more about performance, but there’s a “really good chance” Barber will resume his punting role next week. “Considering that he had the concussion and he came back, he didn’t really punt until I think it was Thursday,” Richt said. “It was hard to tell and Thursday he struggled a little bit, too. I just didn’t want to wait forever on it.”
–Defensive end Ray Drew continues to come on. The junior had seven tackles and two sacks, giving him five on the season.
Richt singled out Drew and freshman Shaq Wiggins as defensive standouts.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer