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Georgia players still unsure why they’re struggling in red zone

The Georgia Bulldogs are 9-1 and completed their SEC schedule with a 7-1 record. Here's a look at how it was done. (Video by Leo Willingham).

While Georgia has improved in many areas since losing to LSU in October, the Bulldogs still can't seem to overcome their red-zone woes.

The first two possessions of Saturday’s 27-10 win over Auburn were proof of the ongoing problem, as the Bulldogs settled for 25 and 20-yard field goals on their first two drives even though they had the ball inside Auburn’s 5-yard line during each possession.

The Bulldogs will have another opportunity to correct their issues Saturday, when they face Massachusetts (4 p.m., SEC Network; News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB).

Against Auburn, Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC) struggled at the goal line most notably in the second quarter, as quarterback Jake Fromm was sacked for a 10-yard loss after having the ball on Auburn’s 9-yard line. The Bulldogs gained back the yardage after the play because of a targeting penalty against Auburn, which gave them a first down on the 4-yard line. The familiar narrative resurfaced as Georgia ran the ball three consecutive times, but was unable to cross the goal line.

Coach Kirby Smart said in previous weeks the Bulldogs are emphasizing scoring in the red zone and short of the goal line in practice, but even with the extra focus, Georgia wide receiver Tyler Simmons is unsure why the offense is struggling in games.

“That’s something we’ve kind of been trying to practice on,” Simmons said. “You know, we’ve been struggling in scoring touchdowns in the red zone and that’s something we’re emphasizing at practice and that’s something we’re hoping to get better this week at that.”

Since Georgia’s loss to LSU, the Bulldogs made 14 trips to the red zone, nine of which were inside the 10-yard line, and scored nine total touchdowns. Five of those touchdowns, however, were scored outside the red zone and six touchdowns were scored off drives that went inside the 20-yard line, two inside the 10-yard line.

During the stretch of three games against ranked conference opponents, the Bulldogs have settled for seven field goals in possessions that went inside the red zone, six of those coming in possessions that made it inside the 10-yard line.

When asked if the root of the problem was in play-calling, execution or just mental, Simmons was at a loss for words.

“We have a lot of plays to run in the red zone,” Simmons said. “I don’t know if we’re necessarily saving them, but I know we have a lot going on, but like I said, it’s just something we need to work on this week.”

Against Auburn, Georgia scored the three touchdowns. The first was off a 14-yard pass from to Simmons on third down, followed by scores outside the red zone with a 38-yard pass to Terry Godwin and a 77-yard run by D’Andre Swift.

Even though Georgia has been unreliable converting inside the red zone, Fromm said he thinks the Bulldogs’ problems in the red zone is more logistical than mental.

“It’s a tighter area, a lot of bodies in there,” Fromm said Monday. “Right now, (we’re) just not really executing at the highest level we need to right now and it’s just it is what it is. The chips just haven’t fallen our way, hopefully they will soon because we’re going to need that time time here soon.”