December 3, 2011

Execution issues doom Dawgs

ATLANTA - Against a team as talented as LSU, you've got to take advantage of your opportunities.

When you don't, it will cost you more often than not.

That's exactly what Georgia's offense was kicking itself about after Saturday's 42-10 thrashing in the SEC Championship, especially after a first-half which saw a pair of would-be touchdown passes go agonizingly off the hands of Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell.

Head coach Mark Richt admitted Georgia's 10-7 halftime lead should have been a lot more.

"We probably should have had 21 points in the first half if we just catch the football," Richt said. "But we were not able to do it."

The pass to King was the tougher attempt of the two.

Facing a third-and-11 from the LSU 22, quarterback Aaron Murray had King open in the end zone but the ball was just high, sailing just off his fingertips forcing the Bulldogs to settle for Blair Walsh's 40-yard field goal.

That wasn't the case with Mitchell.

On Georgia's next possession, the Bulldogs were looking at a third-and-16 from the 27 when Mitchell lost his defender and was wide open at the 5. Murray's throw as true, but Mitchell dropped the ball bringing up fourth down brining on Walsh for a second time.

This time, the kick was wide and the Bulldogs' lead stayed at 3-0.

Georgia would score its lone touchdown later in the first on a 12-yard pass to tight end Aron White. That would be the final points of the night for Georgia as LSU tallied the game's next 42 points.

"I didn't want to get down by 10 points," Tiger coach Les Miles said. "I'd have just as soon take the lead and start that way. But again, that's a quality team we played and a team will compete."

But against the vaunted Tiger defense, it just wasn't to be.

"They were one of the best I've ever seen on defense coming into the game. I knew it was going to be a challenge," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "If we didn't turn the ball over I felt we had a chance, but we turned the ball over too much and they made more plays than us."

Unfortunately, that's just what the Bulldogs did.

Despite the touchdown pass to White, Murray struggled, completing 16 of 40 passes for 162 yards and his third pick-6 of the year which Morris Claiborne returned 45 yards for a score.

He also lost a fumble on Georgia's first play of the third quarter deep inside Bulldog territory that led to LSU's second touchdown to start the rout.

"We were inside the 20 and we needed to knock out a first down. We got nothing on the first two downs and on the third they play a man under," Bobo said. "Murray, I thought, did right thing in scrambling, but they knocked the ball out made a play and recovered it, and we didn't cover from that."

The Bulldogs didn't fare any better on the ground.

Despite the return of freshman Isaiah Crowell from a sprained ankle, Georgia rushed for just 78 yards on 34 attempts, led by Ken Malcome who rushed for 37 yards, all in the fourth quarter.

Crowell finished with just 15 yards on 10 attempts.

"I thought we did some good things. We'll look at the film," Richt said. "I don't think we're going to look and say that we had a bad scheme. I think we had some execution issues. But that's what happens when you play good teams. You have execution issues."