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Blog: SEC championship wrap: On not spiking the ball, bowls and more

ATLANTA–A quick wrap-up here to flesh out some more things beyond our extensive coverage from the game on our website.

–Cornerback Sanders Commings on falling short in the 32-28 SEC championship game loss to Alabama: “We all decided to stay to try to win a national championship. To fall a couple of seconds short is very tough. It’s a very emotional loss.”

–Much talk about Georgia not spiking the ball after the 28-yard completion to Arthur Lynch down to the 8-yard line.

The ball was snapped for the next play with 10 seconds left.

“I wasn’t calling the plays,” quarterback Aaron Murray said when asked if he thought of spiking the ball. “We thought we would have time for two more plays. Obviously they were running down the field. They wouldn’t get set up real quick. I actually think I had Malcolm (Mitchell) on the fade. When I threw it, he said he had him. I thought he beat him too. If it was an incomplete pass we still would have had one more play to go.”

A fade to Malcolm Mitchell was tipped at the line and Chris Conley caught it, slipped and fell at the 5 and the clock ran out.

“We worked these situations a lot after a big first down,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “We try to get up there and not waste those three to four seconds and get a play called in a hurry and get a shot in the end zone. It didn’t happen like that.”

Conley: “We were moving the ball effectively. By the time we got down to the red zone we didn’t really want to spike the ball. We wanted to keep the personnel they had in the game. We decided to hurry up and get to the line and get another play off. There was a little bit of confusion.”

Mark Richt on spiking the ball: “Well, spiking the ball takes time. We had plenty of time to call play, so we called the play and we were taking ‑‑ the goal was to take a shot at their back right end of the end zone and the ball got batted, the ball got tipped and it landed to a receiver that was running a speed out.”

And more: “We had the play we wanted. We had a good play. The ball got tipped at the line of scrimmage and it fell in the arms of a guy in play. The ball was going to the back end of the end zone, either a catch or out of the end zone. Because if you have, I don’t know how many seconds there were, 15 or whatever it was, if you spike the ball, you might only have two plays after that.  If you throw the ball in the end zone, you probably get three plays out of it.  So once you spike it, it does take a little time to spike it, and you reduce the chance of having the third play, basically. So the goal was to throw it in the end zone. That’s whatMurraywas attempting to do.  Once again, the ball got batted, and landed in the arms of our guy in play.

Bobo said if he had to do it over again, he would have spiked the ball: Yeah. Hindsight’s easy. I definitely would if I had to do it over have him spike. We worked on that a lot if we would get in a formation and try to get a play called really quick and try to give us three chances to get the ball in the end zone and it just didn’t work out that way.”

Lynch wasn’t second-guessing.

“We got them on the ropes,” he said. “That’s the offense we were running. We were tyring to keep them off guard. We wanted to keep them on their toes. We had a better chance right then we would have had than spiking the ball and given them to set their personnel.”

–Conley on what happened on the last play: “There was a little bit of confusion. The ball was tipped at the line. I lost it and it was right there and instinctively I grabbed it when I probably should have let it go. Unfortunately I didn’t make the smart play and then I was too slow getting off the ground. That one’s on me.”

Fans who tweeted me after seeing Conley’s quote on Twitter didn’t blame him.

“Thanks to all the fans who showed love for us tonight,” Conley tweeted late tonight. “And thank you to all the people who came up to me with kind words. Love yall.”

–On the bowl thing: Georgia appears likely to land in either the the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 4 or the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on New Year’s Day, according to a high-level Georgia source and several others in the know. Before the game, an effort was under way to protect the SEC championship game loser from sliding all the way down to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

– Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham on the game: “It was a battle and we’re one play away from being here celebrating. It was two good teams. It was a battle. I thought our guys played really hard. We would have liked to have finished on the ball-carrier.”

–About those Alabama ball-carriers. The Crimson Tide rushed for 350 yards. MVP Eddie Lacy had 187 yards and  two touchdowns and T.J. Yeldon rushed for 154 and a touchdown.

“It’s just man on man,” Grantham said. “You’ve got to be in your gap. There’s nothing earth-shattering about it to be honest with you. Give them credit. They made some plays. We probably could have finished a little better to make some plays. We’ve just got to finish on the ball-carrier bottom-line. What happens is if you commit or overcommitt solely to it then you get the ball thrown over your head like you did for the touchdown. It’s kind of pick your poison at that point.”

Said linebacker Christian Robinson: “They’re good. They just kept running. Their offensive line did a great job. They saw space and kept churning.”

–Fourth-year junior linebacker Jarvis Jones was talking about Georgianext season when he was asked if he will be part of it.

He’s considered a top-five NFL draft pick that is almost certain to turn pro.

“It’s not decision-time making for me,” he said. “Right now I’m just going to focus on the rest of our season. Still got a couple of more weeks. Just focused on that.”

On a night when there were some tears shed and disappointment all around, Jones looked at it this way: “We challenged them for 60 minutes. Obviously we came four seconds away from going to the BCS title (game). I’m just so proud of these guys that sacrificed so much to come back here and reach one of our goals. That’s to come here, and we fell short of our next goal of winning.”

–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer

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