Georgia's offensive woes still not solved in OT win over Georgia Southern
Well, so much for the idea that Georgia Southern was little more than a glorified tuneup as mighty Georgia prepared for rival Georgia Tech next week.
The Eagles gave the host Dawgs all they could handle before their deeper and more talented hosts held on for a 23-17 overtime decision at Sanford Stadium on Saturday evening.
1. Very telling moment for Georgia offense late in first half. Nothing spoke louder about the state of Georgia’s anemic offense than coach Mark Richt’s decision late in the first half to have quarterback Greyson Lambert take a knee with nearly 40 seconds remaining in the half rather than try to score, and his subsequent decision to take his chances in overtime. Richt had two timeouts left in the first half but was again so uninspired by his own offense that he opted to take no chances in either situation. Bulldogs fans booed both decisions, but who can blame Richt and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer at this point for their reluctance?
2. Georgia continues to struggle on third-down conversions. The Dawgs entered the game ranked last in the SEC in third-down conversions at 32.5 percent and did nothing to better that dubious ranking, going 2 of 10 against the Eagles.
3. Georgia’s offensive line just isn’t very good right now. A unit that many figured would be among the team’s strengths at the season’s start has had a forgettable year. Injuries haven’t helped as the personnel has been shifted around, but there’s no way the Dawgs shouldn’t have been able to physically impose their will against the Eagles.
4. Kicker Marshall Morgan continues to be erratic. Morgan was an honorable mention All-SEC pick last year but has been erratic this entire season. He missed a field goal from 48 yards out, but he rebounded nicely to drain one from 43 yards away to knot the game at 17-all with 6:06 left. He’s now 3 of 6 this season from 40 yards or longer.
5. Brice Ramsey is far better as a punter than he ever was a QB: No longer in contention for the starting QB job, Ramsey continues to thrive since assuming the punting duties from Collin Barber. He averaged 40.8 yards per punt in 5 kicks against the Eagles, including a beautiful 58-yarder in the first quarter that pinned Georgia Southern at its own 1-yard line.
Offense — (C-): Georgia managed only 47 yards rushing in the first half and just 130 for the game, well below the average of 200-plus it entered the game with. The lack of offensive balance has allowed opponents to focus exclusively on stuffing the run by crowding the line of scrimmage, and the results have been painful. The Dawgs fumbled the ball away twice, including Isaiah McKenzie’s costly one that Caleb Williams picked up and returned 65 yards for a score in the third quarter.
Defense — (B): To be fair, the Georgia defense was on the field a long time as the Georgia offense continues to struggle in sustaining drives. But defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s unit struggled in trying to get the Georgia Southern offense off the field or create turnovers that might have changed the game’s flow. The Eagles entered the game as the nation’s top-ranked rushing team at 379 yards per game, but their triple-option attack managed just 233 against Georgia. However, it was enough for the visitors to dominate the time of possession and make things interesting. Yet, the Dawgs came up with a huge fourth-down stop in overtime.
Special teams — (B+): The Bulldogs special teams accounted for Georgia Southern’s only turnover when they recovered a timely muffed punt that set up the game-tying touchdown late in the third period.
Coaching — (C): The decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Georgia Southern 20 with 3:10 left in the third period was the right call, given Georgia’s desperate need for a touchdown. The call proved beneficial as the Dawgs scored a few plays later. Schottenheimer still has no answers for a struggling Georgia offense. The Bulldogs boasted a considerable advantage in talent and depth and had no business being pushed like this by the Eagles.
Overall — (C): This wasn’t the glorified scrimmage that many predicted because Georgia’s offense continues to struggle with consistency. It wasn’t pretty, but the Dawgs escaped with a win. They’ll have to do much better against the rival Yellow Jackets next week.
• The decision to play for the overtime was safe, but it put all the pressure on the highly favored Bulldogs in the extra period and cemented the lack of faith Richt has in his offense.
• It was a nice try by Schottenheimer to start the game out throwing in the hopes that some early success would give his struggling passing game a much-needed lift, but too many negative plays quickly killed any early offensive momentum.
WR Terry Godwin: The freshman came up with a much-needed touchdown late in the third period when he went fully horizontal to haul in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Lambert that evened the score at 14-apiece with 1:23 left in the period.
RB Sony Michel: The sophomore tailback didn’t have a whole lot of running room but fought and clawed his way to a game-high 132 yards on 23 carries. Michel accounted for the game-winning touchdown when he ran in from 25 yards out on Georgia’s first offensive play of the overtime.
LB Leonard Floyd: The junior took over in the overtime, making consecutive stops for a loss to help thwart the Eagles in the extra period.