Georgia‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúI think we will all move on,‚Äù senior tight end Arthur Lynch said. ‚ÄúWe will start preparing for Vandy tomorrow. Hopefully a week from now we‚Äôll be 5-2, 4-1 in the SEC going into a bye week. We‚Äôll have a chance to get a lot more healthy, a lot more guys back.‚Äù
The BCS national title picture, barring something extraordinary, is about over.
‚ÄúIn the really big picture, the national picture, I‚Äôd be foolish to sit here and think of trying to think of a scenario where we can get there,‚Äù 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.
‚ÄúJust keep winning, just keep getting better,‚Äù quarterback Aaron Murray said of Georgia‚Äôs second loss on the season. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve 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.‚Äù
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‚Äôt 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.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôve got to understand the sticks,‚Äù defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs the down and distance? You‚Äôre going to play coverages based upon the down and distance. You‚Äôve got to be on them, you‚Äôve got to be able to cover them. If you can do that, you get off the field. If you can‚Äôt, you extend drives and when you extend drives, you get more plays, which allows them to be out there, which in turn increases points.‚Äù
Georgia outgained Missouri 454-375.
‚ÄúWe had a bunch of yards,‚Äù Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. ‚ÄúWe just didn‚Äôt 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.‚Äù
Missouri averaged 544 yards per game entering. It didn‚Äôt approach that, but still scored 41 points (including the scoop and score fumble TD)
‚ÄúI believe we‚Äôre going to be the type of defense that everybody is going to be proud of,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúIt takes some time. We‚Äôve 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.‚Äù
Some other tidbits:
–Bobo, Richt and even players weren‚Äôt 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‚Äôt play.
Asked if not having Gurley or Bennett impacted Georgia in the red zone, Bobo said: ‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt have Gurley or Bennett so it wasn‚Äôt 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‚Äôt make enough plays.‚Äù
Added Richt: ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not going to sit here and start talking about if he we had this or that. That‚Äôs 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.‚Äù
–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.
‚ÄúI think they were prepared, we just needed to execute a little bit better,‚Äù offensive guard Chris Burnette said.
Georgia wasn‚Äôt ‚Äúparalyzed or handcuffed,‚Äù with Green and Douglas, Richt said.
‚ÄúThey played a lot of zone coverage and we knew we had to go to the checkdown and make them tackle the checkdown,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚ÄúI thought the backs did a good job of getting where they were supposed to be. They didn‚Äôt pressure a lot. They played us with a four man rush and played coverage. That‚Äôs what they‚Äôve 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‚Äôt able to finish the game.‚Äù
–Gurley (ankle) and safety Tray Matthews (hamstring) could return against Vanderbilt next Saturday.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôll be much more hopeful Todd would play and Tray,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúTodd, I‚Äôd say this is the first week that we would sit here and say he‚Äôs got a realistic shot, but I wouldn‚Äôt say, hey, Todd‚Äôs full-speed on Monday. We‚Äôll just have to wait and see how much Todd gets better as the week goes along.‚Äù
Michael Bennett‚Äôs return is expected for the Florida game after the open date.
–Georgia couldn‚Äôt muster more late-game heroics, but it thought it was going to be able to pull it out again.
‚ÄúEven when we were down by 18. We were like `We‚Äôre coming back. We‚Äôre coming back,‚Äô‚Äù 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‚Äôs a ‚Äúreally good chance‚Äù Barber will resume his punting role next week. ‚ÄúConsidering that he had the concussion and he came back, he didn‚Äôt really punt until I think it was Thursday,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúIt was hard to tell and Thursday he struggled a little bit, too. I just didn‚Äôt want to wait forever on it.‚Äù
–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.
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