STARKVILLE, Miss. — Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo accepted blame for his unit’s latest struggles on Saturday night.
Georgia had its best SEC game as far as yardage, but once again struggled to put points on the scoreboard.
“Didn’t do a good job of getting us ready to play. Didn’t do a good job of executing and that falls on me as a coach,” Bobo said. “Moved the ball well but didn’t finish. And (if) you can’t finish, you can’t win in this league. And that’s about how we’ve been in three games in this league, basically.”
Georgia’s offense had the ball inside the Mississippi State 20 on three occasions in the first half, but only got six points out of it.
“I didn’t think they slowed us down in the first half at all,” Bobo said. “And to only get six points was disappointing. You can’t have turnovers and you can’t have penalties, and that’s coaching. That’s our fault.”
Caleb King returned from a two-game absence, though not right away, and not with immediate dividends for Georgia’s running game.
Georgia’s moribund rushing game stayed that way on Saturday, as King and two other tailbacks struggled to move drives or break plays open.
Washaun Ealey started a third straight game, and Carlton Thomas also got carries before King was finally called in. King missed the past two games with a sprained ankle.
But none of the three showed much breakaway ability: Thomas’ 15-yard run in the second half was the longest of the game. Ealey’s long this season was 18, and King’s was 20.
Through its first four games, the Bulldogs are averaging 124 rushing yards per game. Last year they averaged 161 yards a game, and the lowest average in recent years was 127.4, in 2006.
Coach Mark Richt has pointed to the blocking from the guard position for part of the struggles. Tanner Strickland started at right guard for the second straight game, with Cordy Glenn remaining at his customary left guard spot.
The return of A.J.
This was Georgia’s last game without star receiver A.J. Green, due to return from NCAA suspension for the next game, at Colorado.
“I’m looking forward to having him back,” Richt said. “He’s a great kid that is a heck of a football player. I’m looking forward to him getting a chance to play. I’m sure he is too.”
“I think it’ll give us a confidence boost offensively,” Bobo said. “But we’ve gotta fix a lot of things, it’s not just A.J. Green.”
Smith, Dowtin play
Branden Smith and Marcus Dowtin were both questionable for the game, but ended up playing extensively.
Smith was cleared to play after missing the Arkansas game with a concussion. The sophomore started on defense, returned punts and saw action on offense.
Dowtin, a reserve linebacker, had a tackle behind the line in the first half. Dowtin missed the previous game with a shoulder stinger.
Fullback Shaun Chapas missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. The senior made the trip, and went through warm-ups, but Fred Munzenmaier started over him.
Charles White, a seldom-used fullback, is back playing defense, where he started his career. The senior from Columbia, S.C., shifted back to inside linebacker near the end of preseason camp.
Georgia has been hurting depth wise at that position. Richard Samuel remains out with a knee injury and may redshirt. Marcus Dowtin has been hurt, though he made the trip to Starkville. Mike Gilliard also missed some practices because of injury.
Walk-on Jeremy Sulek, another inside linebacker, also made the trip to help the team’s depth.