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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Post Game Notes

Maybe it was meant to needle the Georgia coaching staff. Maybe it was a minor dish of revenge, served ice cold in the waning moments of Florida's 49-10 win. Or maybe it was just a fresh dose of salt in Georgia's wounds courtesy of a Gators team that had been biding its time for a chance to hurt the Bulldogs as bad as it had been hurt a year ago.

Whatever the reason for Urban Meyer's two timeouts in the game's final minute, there was one inarguable fact the Bulldogs had no one to blame for the embarrassment but themselves.

"They were ahead," Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran said. "They probably thought they had to get us back somehow for last year, so they did what they did. They were ahead and about to win the game. They can do whatever they want to do."

After Georgia danced around the end zone following its first touchdown in a win against Florida last year, much was made of the potential revenge Meyer hoped to inflict this time around.

A raucous second half that included five touchdown drives that required a combined 5:18 boosted the Gators to a huge lead as the fourth quarter drew to a close, and Meyer decided to use his two remaining timeouts to enjoy the victory.

"(It was) to enjoy the moment, to enjoy the game," Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. "We were still playing the game. We didn't do it for anyone else. We were just playing the game."

Meyer said the timeouts weren't aimed at delaying Georgia's pain or to provide retribution for last year's end-zone celebration.

Meyer's explanation was simple he was trying to win the game.

That might seem a bit odd considering he was already up 39 points, but Meyer has gained a reputation for squeezing every second out of the clock he can.

In a September game against in-state rival Miami, Meyer left his first-team players on the field until the end of the game, booting a meaningless field goal as time expired despite holding a big lead. Miami coach Randy Shannon complained after the game, suggesting Meyer was showboating.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt had no such complaints.

"The rules say you have three timeouts per half, and they can use as many as they want," Richt said. "They used their timeouts and they certainly had a right to do that."

The timeouts came after runs by Emmanuel Moody, Florida's third-string running back who had tallied a game-high 71 rushing yards, and Meyer said he wanted to give Moody a few more chances to pad his stats.

"Moody was running the ball real well and I wanted to get him a couple more carries," Meyer said. "He deserved that."

Curran thinks there was a bit more to it than that.

Following last season's celebration, the Bulldogs expected some payback. Curran said he holds no grudges for the final-minute timeouts. He just wishes the Bulldogs could have done something to stop it.

"We did our thing last year," Curran said. "I feel like they came into this game feeling like they had something to prove, and they did with those timeouts and with the way they played."

-- In a game filled with missed opportunities for Georgia, Matthew Stafford can't help but wonder if he threw away the Bulldogs' best chance at a comeback in what ended up a 49-10 Florida win.

Georgia failed to cash in on three red-zone chances in the first half, but trailed by just 11 when Stafford got the ball at his own 1 early in the third quarter. The Bulldogs drove to the Florida 30, moving the ball with ease, but Gators defensive back Joe Haden put an end to the rally with an interception he returned 88 yards, setting up a 1-yard Tim Tebow touchdown.

"We had a corner route called, and the guy read it, did a good job and made a great play," said Stafford, who finished 18-of-33 passing for 265 yards.

As it turned out, the play didn't end up meaning a lot in the final score, but at the time it was a devastating blow to the Bulldogs.

"It certainly killed a lot of momentum that we were gaining at that point. Not only was it an interception, but it was an interception for all that hidden yards. That's what killed us, and there was very little chance of keeping them out of the end zone at that point."

The quick shift in momentum turned into an avalanche of blunders for the Bulldogs, who turned the ball over three more times in the second half including two interceptions by Stafford.

"From then on out, we were going throw it, and they know it and we know it, so it's a little easier for them," Stafford said. "We became one-dimensional just because of the scoreboard, but that still doesn't excuse it."

Florida scored 21 points off turnovers Saturday, and the Gators five touchdown drives in the half took a combined 5 minutes, 18 seconds, turning the close game into a blowout.

"We did it to ourselves," Stafford said. "Us turning the ball over, giving them the short field a bunch, we know they're a good football team, and they took advantage."

-- In the end, it didn't really matter, but after freshman Blair Walsh missed two short field goals in the first half, he couldn't help but wonder if he had cost his team the game.

Georgia drove into the red zone twice in the first half and came away with just three points after Walsh missed kicks of 38 and 27 yards.

"I want to make them all, obviously, but to miss something like that, to give your chance to go up, it's heart wrenching," Walsh said. "These guys work so hard on the field, and you've got that one shot, that one try to make it, and when you don't, it just kills you."

Walsh gained some solace from his teammates, who told him to keep his head in the game. At halftime, Georgia trailed by just 11, and Walsh's teammates told him he could have a chance at redemption.

"They never doubted me or anything," Walsh said. "I have great teammates. I can't ask for anything better. They were just trying to keep me up. At one point, it looked like it might come down to another field goal, but the game got away from us."

-- After Georgia added its first points to the board with a field goal, Richt decided to take a chance to steal some momentum.

Walsh's kickoff following the field goal was an on-side kick that bounced straight to Florida's Butch Rowley, who covered the football at the Georgia 41. Florida scored seven plays later to open up a 14-3 lead.

"The onside really wasn't executed as well as it should have been executed," Richt said. "We just wanted to get another possession. We knew Florida's offense was very explosive, and the less amount of drives they had, the better it was going to be for us."

Richt said the decision was a calculated risk, given the explosiveness of Florida's star returner Brandon James, who returned just one kick in the game for 22 yards.

"You could kick it to Brandon (James), and he can run it back to the 40 easily, so kicking it off to those guys isn't always the best thing either. We just didn't execute very well."

-- Tight end Tripp Chandler and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe each returned to action for the first time in more than a month Saturday.

Chandler had one reception for 14 yards, but also fell in the end zone and missed a potential touchdown pass from Stafford.

Ellerbe had just one tackle in the game a six-yard sack of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

Chandler said the return to the field was like playing for the first time.

"It was a lot of fun to be able to get back out there and play again," Chandler said. "I had those jitters like it was my very first game ever."

-- Georgia's blowout loss to Florida looked an awful lot like its first loss of the season to Alabama, with penalties, turnovers and missed opportunities turning a potentially close game into one that got out of hand quickly.

While offensive lineman Clint Boling was equally perplexed by both outcomes, he said Georgia showed a bit more fight this time around.

"I really have no idea what happened," Boling said. "I wouldn't say it was a lot like the Alabama game because of the score and everything. I thought we did a lot better job of moving the ball. It was just a tough game all around."


Anonymous said...

Watching this Texas/TT game I actually want Texas to win now that we're going to the Outback Bowl, but in watching it even my 50 year old mother noticed it looks like NFL football compared to our game. Do you think our defense is that much better or the Big 12's defense is that inferior? The pass game both teams are working is incomparable to anything the SEC has seen all year, it's fun-n-gun to the 50th. What do you think DH?

Anonymous said...

By our defense I mean the SEC's, certainly not the Dawgs after today

Anonymous said...

The results are the only thing which count. We can yell at the fans who point these things out but nothing will change the truth.

Goff 1-6 Fla
Donnan 1-4 Fla
Richt 2-6

While Richt has been the best coach over all for Ga (very low bar to achieve), he was hired for his FSU experience so we would beat Fla. By any measure of recording success, he has failed. Either he moves on or he gets better. Gee, which one do you thinks happens. I'll bet, he doesn't move on and he does not get better with his current staff. For you losers who also did not think Donnan should have been let go, go to heck. What an embarrassment.

Travis Eckhart said...

what can you say. all year its the penalties that hurt the dawgs. The lack of senior leadership up front, the injury bug, the position shuffles. Mix all that in with a strength of schedule rated in the mid 20's, and something has to give.

i'm dissapointed by the loss, because this is always a game the dawgs need to win, for SEC play, and BCS ranks. Overall though this team is starting to gell, and that is always nice to see. It is a young team. You think back to last year when we lost single digit seniors to the NFL/graduation. Again this year were looking at a returning core of young players. If this kid that just verbaled last week can put up anywhere near the talent i've seen from Green this year i think stafford and co will be looking great.

you hate to make excuses, but that young line isn't doing stafford or moreno any favors. Moreno needs to establish himself early on in games to take the pressure off the deep ball that bobo likes to opt for. if they can't get the run game flowing, stafford is going to continue to take hits like he did against the gators.

either way, here's hoping to see Florida drop a game left on the schedule to an east team.

Outspoken said...

What can I say? When you challenge a play that is obviously down behind where they marked it and don't get it turned over, don't get a blatant defensive pass interference call when you are on offense, get an offensive pass interference call when you are on defense, etc. etc, it makes it not only hard to overcome a few mistakes, but almost impossible to overcome two teams: Florida and the Zebras.

Anonymous said...

I'm fed up with Richt being just a decent coach, we will forever be a 2-loss team under Richt, I'm upset he didn't take more accountability for the loss, and the team seems more complacent than they should in defeat. You know there was this other coach who couldn't beat there most abhorred rivals, his name was John Cooper and he couldn't beat Michigan. But he always had a great squad with around 2 losses every year. I love Richt and appreciate what he's done for the program. Sure Richt is a stand-up guy with a heart of gold, but we need to start thinking about if this is the right guy for the job. Beat Florida!

meat said...

Reading these posts pisses me off. We may finih 11-2 this year with an offensive line made of freshman and sophmores. Not too mention losing our best lineman on both sides of the ball. You find another coach in the country who has accomplished that and then we can talk about making replacements.

No, Coach Richt hasn't won a national championship. Would you rather have Urban Myer, Nick Saban, or Les Miles to call your coach? I wouldn't. I might could say I'd rather have Pete Carroll but I doubt he would be nearly as successful on this side of the country. The point is that we are spoiled to have Mark Richt and he deserves better than that.