Inconsistent runs, third-down trouble foil Bulldogs
By FLETCHER PAGE
STARKVILLE, Miss. — The word frustration repeatedly was used by Georgia players and coaches to describe the offensive effort following Saturday’s 24-12 loss to Mississippi State.
Georgia managed to outgain Mississippi State in total yards, converted more first downs and had possession of the ball longer.
But Georgia failed to score a touchdown until the final couple minutes of the game after Mississippi State already had sealed the victory.
The frustration was evident in interviews after the game.
“One and whatever the crap we are,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “What are we, 1-and-3? You know, you play to win the game, work hard, and we’re not getting it done. It’s disappointing, and I know the guys are frustrated. We’re going to regroup, and we’re going to get back to grinding.
“Nobody is going to quit. Nobody is going to throw in the towel.”
The Bulldogs broke into the red zone twice in the first half but came away with only six points from two field goals. Sophomore tailback Washaun Ealey fumbled at the 1-yard-line in the first quarter. A holding penalty negated another score, a 40-yard catch-and-run by senior Kris Durham in the second quarter, leaving Georgia with three points after initially finding the end zone on the play.
“It’s one of those things where we got down to the 1-yard-line, had a fumble,” Durham said. “I had a touchdown catch, had a holding penalty. You know, make a couple of plays, something else happened. We’re just not getting it all together at one time. We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, so to speak.”
The Bulldogs struggled to get their running game going. An average of 3.3 yards per carry kept Georgia in long-yardage situations on second and third downs. Quarterback Aaron Murray was the team’s leading rusher, with only 38 yards on seven carries.
“We have to do a better job of getting some runs where we can get some yards because obviously what we’re doing right now ain’t working,” Bobo said.
Mississippi State called numerous blitzes, Richt said, which tripped up the ground attack.
“We just, at times, called a couple running plays just blindly and just said, ‘Hey, we’re going to run this no matter what,’ ” he said. “There were times when we had success and some times we got hit in the mouth because of the pressures they brought. And, again, until you look at the film, it’s going to be hard to say exactly. They did a nice job defensively.”
The passing game fared better statistically, but Georgia finished 7-of-15 on third-down plays. Murray finished with 274 passing yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, but incomplete passes on third down killed numerous drives.
The ultimate problem is a lack of consistency from every area of the offense, Bobo said.
“We hadn’t been consistent enough to finish drives,” he said. “It’s frustrating. And we’ve got to do a better job of making big plays, which would help. I’ve got to do a better job as coaches of getting us in those plays and giving those kids more opportunities.”
A struggling offense this season has become all too familiar for Georgia fans. The Bulldogs managed only six points in a 17-6 loss at South Carolina. And, until the fourth quarter against Arkansas, they had scored only 10 points.
The problems have been much of the same in each loss: an inconsistent rushing attack, leaving points on the table in the red zone and trouble converting on third down.
Now, Georgia is 0-3 in the conference, with little time to find answers to each problem.