October 3, 2009

Heat on the Dogs after loss to LSU

If ever there was a microcosm to the problems which have haunted Georgia thus far in the 2009 football campaign, Saturday's 20-13 loss to No. 4 LSU was certainly it.

As a result, questioned swirled throughout Sanford Stadium, wondering what the Bulldogs are going to do next. Quarterback Joe Cox tried to find the right words.

"Whether people cheer for us or they don't cheer for us, we're going to try our best to finish this season strong," Cox said. "We've worked way too hard to shut it down and let it all go down the tank. We want to be a good team still and we still think we can. But it starts next week."

The Bulldogs would appear to have a ways to go.

Offensively, Georgia scuffled for the second week in a row, muddling its way through a putrid first half, garnering only 49 total yards and finishing with just 45 yards on the ground.

Unfortunately, there were other issues of concern.

Although Georgia managed to keep most of its penalties in check for most of the evening, a 15-yard celebratory penalty on A.J. Green after his 12-yard touchdown reception with 1:09 to play put the Bulldogs in position of having to kick off from their own 15.

That was just the break LSU (5-0, 3-0) was looking for.

After Trindon Holliday returned the kick to the Bulldog 43, an illegal formation call pushed the football to the 38. Three plays later, running back Charles Scott found the end zone, breaking a host of Georgia missed-tackles on his way to a 38-yard touchdown run.

The two-point conversion accounted for the final 20-13 score.

Any chances the Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1) had in the final 42 seconds ended when Cox was intercepted by Perry Riley.

"It was a game where a lot of good things happened, but not enough good things to get the victory," head coach Mark Richt. "There were some outstanding stats, but they say stats are for losers. The only stat that is important is the score, and we didn't win it."

Trailing 6-0 at the half, LSU got the ball but could do nothing with it, as back-to-back sacks by Abry Jones followed by the combo of Jeff Owens and Justin Houston forced the Tigers to punt from their own 2-yard line.

Georgia took over on the Tiger 44, and despite a botched reverse on the first play that lost 10 yards, regrouped and used a 32-yard pass from Cox to Green to advance to the 13.

But the Bulldogs couldn't turn the field position into points.

Georgia wound up settling for a short field goal attempt by Blair Walsh, but the kick was wide and the score remained the same.

The Bulldogs would have better luck the next time they received the ball.
After forcing LSU's second punt of the quarter, Georgia got its offense going, thanks in part to the play of freshman Washaun Ealey who was inserted to start the drive.

It didn't take the former ECI star to make his presence felt.

Ealey used runs of 8 and 6 yards to pick up a quick first down prior to Cox hitting tight end Orson Charles for a 23-yard gain down to the Tiger 13.

However, Charles was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for celebrating, backing Georgia up 15 yards to the 28. Luckily for the Bulldogs, the unfortunate faux pas didn't keep Georgia from the end zone.

LSU made the Bulldogs work. Eventually, it was Cox who found Shaun Chapas from 1-yard out on a fourth-down call with 14:15 left in the game. Walsh's kick put Georgia in front 7-6.

But back came the Tigers, reclaiming a 12-7 advance when Scott bulled his way in from the 2-yard line with 2:53 to play before Georgia roared back to reclaim the lead again.

A 46-yard pass from Cox to Tavarres King set Georgia up at the 16-yard line before scoring two-plays later on Cox's pass to Green in the right corner of the end zone.

But after the play, the officials claimed that after a brief celebration, Green made a gesture to the crowd calling attention to himself.

"I was surprised, but you can't argue with them," Green said. "I didn't even know they had thrown the flag until after."

So, what's next for the Bulldogs, who have to shake off the loss before traveling to Tennessee next Saturday.

"We've just got to regroup, study what we did wrong and get a plan ready for Tennessee," Richt said. "We've got to get back to work tomorrow and keep banging away. We've got to buckle our chinstraps and get back work."

Cox finished the game 18-of-34 for 229 yards, one interception and one touchdown, while Green finished with five catches for 99 yards and a score. Ealey finished with a team-high 33 yards on eight carries.

Scott led the Tigers 99 yards while quarterback Jordan Jefferson completed 18 of 27 passes for 212 yards.

The first half was certainly not one of Georgia's better offensive efforts.

Georgia managed just 49 total yards, and if not for the play of the defense, would have found itself down by more than a 6-0 score.

First, cornerback Brandon Boykin saved the Bulldogs on LSU's first possession when he picked off Jefferson in the end zone, before being tackled at the 2-yard line attempting to bring the ball out.

Later, following field goals of 24 and 41 yards, LSU took the football midway through the second quarter and drove 57 yards to the Bulldog 18 before bogging down bringing up a fourth-and-one play.

But instead of having Jasper attempt another field goal, the Tigers tried to have quarterback Jordan Jefferson pick up the first down on a sneak. Jefferson tried the middle of the Bulldog line, but found no room, giving Georgia back the football with 4:06 in the half.

However, the offense still couldn't move, and after a quick three and out, punted the football back to LSU, which took over at its own 40.

Three minutes still remained, but the Tigers only advanced to the Georgia 41 before time ran out in the half.

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