‘Self-inflicted wounds’ keep games close for Georgia

semerson@macon.comNovember 3, 2013 

UGA_v_FL

7. Georgia (5-3, 3-2); Last week, 7

The Bulldogs can't help but make things interesting, huh? Just out to a 20-0 lead and then have to hold on for a 23-20 victory — and against the fan base's most hated rival, Florida. Georgia just has to get through its semi-exhibition contest against Appalachian State — which is just 2-7 this year — on Saturday before it can turn its attention to "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" against Auburn in two weeks.

GRANT BLANKENSHIP/THE TELEGRAPH — gblankenship@macon.com

ATHENS -- Normally, the answers would come off as laughable coach-speak. This year, Mark Richt’s answers to two questions Sunday had the ring of sincerity.

First, the Georgia head coach was asked if he hoped to get backup quarterback Hutson Mason some action Saturday. You know, what with Appalachian State being the opponent.

“I’m not gonna make any predictions on anything like that because it’s not a wise thing to do,” Richt said.

A reporter from Boone, N.C., where Appalachian State is located, asked if there was any concern of a letdown. Richt audibly laughed.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “Every game we’ve played has been down to the wire. We just know every time we play, it’s gonna be a great game.”

OK, Appalachian State is an FCS program with a 2-7 record. It is not the same program that shocked Michigan in 2007. So if it can hang with Georgia it would still be a major surprise.

Then again, before the North Texas game, who expected that game would be tied in the third quarter?

This has been the year of the cardiac Bulldogs, with the most recent game just another rendition. Georgia turned a 23-3 halftime lead over Florida into a 23-20 barn-burner. The Bulldogs got lucky in that one, unlike two weeks before at Vanderbilt, when they blew a 14-point second half lead and lost.

In all, Georgia’s eight games have been decided by an average of 8.3 points, compared to last year, when it was an average of 22.7 points, win or lose. The margin in five of Georgia’s games this year has been four points or fewer. Last year the only game that close was the SEC championship.

It makes for good television. But the frustration for the Bulldogs is that games like Florida and Vanderbilt could have been dispensed with much earlier, if not for its own errors.

“It’s mostly self-inflicted wounds,” Richt said. “I’ve used that term more than I’d like to this season.”

Then Richt listed the various things the Bulldogs have done wrong: high snaps and drop punt snaps and a dropped lateral that turns into a fumble.

“You can’t sit there and predict that something like that is going to happen. You know that things like that can happen,” he said. “But you’d like to make people earn it, at least, you know? Make it a little bit tougher on them.”

Injury updates

Richt did not have an update on tailback Todd Gurley as of Sunday afternoon. The star sophomore did not attend postgame interviews Saturday, and afterwards Richt said Gurley was “gassed” after playing for the first time in a month.

As for receiver Chris Conley, who missed the Florida game with a sprained ankle, the goal appears to be for him to play against Auburn a week from Saturday.

“I don’t think there’s much of a chance this week, from what I saw last week and just talking to him,” Richt said. “I mean I don’t think he’d count himself out this week, by any means, but listening to how it was feeling last week and even game day, he won’t be practicing any time soon. But hopefully Auburn. But I just can’t predict it at all.”

How does that happen?

There was a simple, although not acceptable, reason for the 12-man-on-the-field penalty against Georgia’s defense in Saturday’s game.

The penalty came on fourth down, extending a critical Florida drive in the fourth quarter. Georgia’s defense was bailed out three plays later when safety Corey Moore sacked Tyler Murphy to force a punt.

Richt said that during the timeout that preceded the penalty, one defensive player -- he did not say who -- didn’t hear the call correctly. So there was one extra player on the field.

“We oughta have somebody trying to count them up every time we break the huddle,” Richt said. “We’ve gotta do a better job of that just to be certain.”

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