ATHENS- Mark Richt didn't go so far as to say that his offensive line played like kindergartners at Clemson. He gave them a bit more credit.
"There were times where we looked like we were in the first grade out there," Richt said.
Richt was alluding not so much to the pass protection - though that was part of it - but to the penalties, especially in the second half. The most glaring was a fourth-quarter holding call against center David Andrews, which nullified a long gain when Georgia was driving to get back in the game.
There were six drives affected by penalties, by Richt's count, and Georgia failed to score on four of them.
"The offensive side of the ball is supposed to be the mature side of the ball for us, but most of the penalties were on offense," Richt said.
So will there be personnel changes on the beleaguered front line? That doesn't appear to be the indication: Senior Kenarious Gates will remain the starting left tackle, even with South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney next on tap.
"We wouldn't be playing him at left tackle if we didn't think he could do it," Richt said. "He went against Jadeveon a year ago, so it won't be like a first-time experience for him."
Georgia moved a bunch of players around during the game, with Gates shifting to right guard and Kolton Houston moving from right to left tackle. Asked if they need to stop in-game moving around, Richt said they feel they have six guys who deserve to play, and pointed to Chris Burnette's health, not wanting him to play the full game.
Some other notes from Richt's weekly presser:
- In his opening statement, Richt began by pointing out that you have to be a redshirt senior Georgia player to remember being on a team that beat South Carolina. (Aaron Murray qualifies but he was actually redshirting. Arthur Lynch did play that year, but sparingly.
- Richt mentioned the Clowney conditioning talk, and the fact the star end looked winded during the game.
"I know he got some criticism. ... But in order to get as tired as he looked at times, you've got to play hard," Richt said.
- The return of Josh Harvey-Clemons looms for this game, which Richt said "will be big for us." Junior strong safety Corey Moore is expected back from injury, creating a bit of a crowded situation with the way Leonard Floyd played at the star position at Clemson.
"We still don't want to lose the progress we believe Leonard Floyd is making," Richt said. "It's going to be a little bit of a challenge to get Leonard, Corey, Josh Harvey-Clemens and Tray Matthews on the field at the same time, but we'll figure it out."
- Marshall Morgan is officially suspended for this game, with walk-ons Patrick Beless and Adam Erickson likely in another kicking competition this week. Richt also didn't rule out punter Collin Barber trying the longer field goals, as Barber was doing during warmups at Clemson.
Asked about Beless' range, Richt brought up the fourth down they went for in the first quarter. (It would've been a 45-yarder or so.) He said they might have gone for it even if Morgan were available.
"We also thought it was a game where we thought we needed sevens more than threes," Richt said.
- Richt said he felt Aaron Murray played "pretty well" at Clemson. The interception is just a play that will happen. Richt talked more about the fumble and "I think Aaron's just got to continue to do what he does for us."
- Malcolm Mitchell's injury came up, and Richt reiterated that he wouldn't temper his players' celebrations. Richt pointed out he had a teammate in college who scored a touchdown then tore his ACL celebrating.
"So it's not a new thing," Richt said.
Thomas Davis, the former Georgia safety who's had three ACL surgeries in the NFL, called Mitchell to give him some advice, Richt said.
- Here's something to remember going forward whenever depth charts are released: When Richt was asked about Garrison Smith being listed as a nose, the coach looked down at the depth chart in a bit of confusion.
"I didn't even look at that, I never look at that," Richt said, shaking his head. "I don't know quite what to make of it, frankly. Garrison will play both (nose and end). It just depends on the situation."
- Finally, Richt was asked about the outside "noise," i.e. the carping from fans after the loss, and whether it reaches him or he insulates himself from it.
"It's the nature of the business. We know that anybody in a leadership position or anybody in a decision-making position, they're gonna get criticized. In sports, if things don't go the way everybody wants everybody wants to have an opinion on what should've happened and that kind of thing. So I don't really worry too much about that."