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Saturday, October 25, 2008

UGA-LSU Postgame Notes

There haven't been many times this season that freshman wide receiver A.J. Green has been frustrated on a football field. Green entered Saturday's 52-38 win over LSU as the SEC's leading receiver, but the Tigers effectively shut him down in the first half Saturday.

The freshman had two chances to grab receptions early, but one pass pulled him out of bounds before he could corral the ball and he dropped the second one on a route over the middle.

After the drop, quarterback Matthew Stafford pulled Green aside and told him not to lose focus.

"He told me just to make up for it," Green said. "Everybody's not perfect, so you're going to drop one or two. It's about coming back, and I came back strong."

Green responded with a monster second half that included three catches for 89 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown reception that gave the Bulldogs a 31-17 lead.

"I'm glad he got an opportunity to make that big play because you don't go a whole game and not throw it to No. 8 at least not with him not getting one."

-- It's not exactly a medical miracle, but tight end Aron White found out the power a good nap Saturday.

The redshirt freshman sprained his shoulder in practice last week, and Thursday afternoon Richt said White couldn't lift his arm over his shoulder and would not make the trip to LSU. After a mid-day power nap, however, White's shoulder had miraculously healed.

"I don't know what he was dreaming about," Richt said, "but it was a good thing."

Not only did White travel with the team, but he hauled in his first career catch a 48-yard reception from Stafford. It was the first reception by a Georgia tight end since Sept. 20.

"It was my only chance to come to Baton Rouge to play," White said, "so I had to take advantage of it."

-- Georgia focused on its running game against LSU as running back Knowshon Moreno rushed for 163 yards, a performance that included a 68-yard touchdown run.

Moreno's consistency on the ground Saturday caused all sorts of problems for the Tigers. On top of not being able to slow him down, Moreno also caused LSU to be more cautious and less aggressive, which affected the Tigers' passing defense. The issue is the rushing yardage, LSU head coach Les Miles said.

"If you give up the rushing yardage, you're not going to put the pressure on the quarterback. As long as they had the lead, there's little reason for them to spread you out and just toss it over the line and allow us to get in the backfield. It's hard to pressure a team that is running the football pretty well."

Moreno's touchdown in the third quarter gave him 26 for his career -- tying Thomas Brown for the most by any player since Richt's arrival in 2001.

-- Georgia's pass rush has been roundly criticized this season for failing to accumulate sacks, but Saturday's game set up perfectly for the Bulldogs' defensive ends to tee off on LSU's quarterbacks.

While Georgia had just two sacks in the game, Justin Houston's takedown and Jeremy Lomax's half-sack were the first of the season for the Bulldogs' defensive ends.

The key, Richt said, was a strong performance by Georgia's offense.

"In order to get a pass rush we had to get them into third-and-long, but we also had to score points," Richt said. Part of the reason we didn't get a pass rush against Alabama is we didn't score any points at all in the first half. We never got them in a position where they felt they had to drop back and throw the football to keep drives going. This time, we got them in third-and-longs and we also scored enough points to make them have to get into that type of mode of operation."

-- Georgia's 52-point performance against LSU was the second most points the Bulldogs have scored in a game this season. The Bulldogs scored 56 against Central Michigan earlier this season.

Saturday's game marked the fourth time Georgia has eclipsed the 50-point barrier since Richt took over in 2001.

"We go into every game trying to score every time we get the ball," Stafford said. "That's our thought process and what we work towards, and we were able to move the ball well on (LSU). We got some big plays when we needed them (Saturday)."

-- Darryl Gamble finished with 13 tackles -- second most on the team behind Rennie Curran's 14 -- and had two INT returns for a touchdown. The two pick sixes tied an NCAA record for linebackers.

Of course, next week Gamble may lose his starting job if Dannell Ellerbe is able to return from an injured knee. That leaves Georgia in a difficult position: How do they keep Ellerbe, their All-SEC linebacker, on the field when Gamble is playing so well?

"I guess we'll have to start a new defense," cornerback Asher Allen said. "I don't know, maybe put four linebackers out there."

-- Fast facts: Mo Massaquoi now has a catch in 29 straight games; Georgia's 14-play TD drive in the first quarter was its longest of the season, while it's one-play, 68-yard drive on Moreno's big run was its shortest scoring drive of the year; Saturday was Moreno's 11th career 100-yard day; Punter Brian Mimbs averaged 50.4 yards per punt, the third-best day in Georgia history for a punter; Richt is now 28-4 in opponents' stadiums in his career.

-- And I had to include this quote from Gamble, which I thought was pretty interesting. Not sure if this means fans should be encouraged by the solid prep work or discouraged by how many points LSU was still able to score:

"I guess the preparation, knowing when they were going to run and pass," Gamble said. "With a lot bigger line that LSU has, they kind of showed a little bit of what they were going to do, and we had a key of whether they were going to pass it or not. We pretty much knew what they were going to do before they ran or passed the ball."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm extremely happy that UGA won, but I was nervous even when we led by 21 just before the 4th quarter. The defense didn't disappoint, turning this into a shootout rather than a blowout.

Poor tackling and giving up quite a few big plays at the end really concerns me. I can't wait to hear what Martinez and the defense says about it.

Yeah, I probably shouldn't be complaining. We put up 52 in Baton Rouge after all. I guess I wish we would put together a truly complete game! Hopefully next week.