The game that was
In a game that could have been won if Caleb King hadn't fumbled or Vance Cuff hadn't roughed the kicker or Blair Walsh hadn't missed his first field goal of the season, Georgia once again found a way to lose, this time 29-27 at Colorado.
What we learned
1. Georgia is fumbling away the season. Washaun Ealey barely played Saturday -– he got just one carry -– as a consequence of critical fumbles in losses to South Carolina and Mississippi State. Ealey's benching created more playing time for King, who gave Georgia its first 100-yard rusher of the season. But in the final two minutes, with the Bulldogs well within range of a potential game-winning field goal, King fumbled the ball and the game away. (Also, of course, someone should have blocked the linebacker who forced the fumble by striking King a split-second after he took the handoff on what coach Mark Richt called "as basic of a play as we've got.")
2. Georgia desperately needs a full game from A.J. Green. He caught seven passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns and ran another 40 yards on an end-around, but he still hasn't played a full game in any of Georgia's past nine regular-season games. He missed 3 ½ of the final four games last season with injuries, missed the first four this season because of NCAA suspension and missed much of the third quarter Saturday with cramping. Just before he left the game, Green caught a 50-yard pass that set up the touchdown that gave Georgia a 24-14 lead. By the time he returned after getting intravenous fluids in the locker room, Georgia trailed 29-24.
3. The defense continues to be burned by big plays. After Georgia took its 24-14 lead, Colorado scored touchdowns on its next two possessions. A 65-yard run down the left sideline by tailback Rodney Stewart on an option pitch sparked the first of the two drives. A 46-yard pass to wide receiver Will Jefferson, who got open down the middle behind cornerback Cuff, fueled the second. Making matters worse for Georgia on the latter series, Colorado tried to settle for a field goal but a roughing-the-kicker penalty against Cuff kept the TD drive alive. Colorado took the three points off the scoreboard and quickly replaced them with seven, and the four-point swing was pivotal in a game decided by two.
Cornerback/punt returner Branden Smith suffered a concussion, his second in less than three weeks, and probably won't play against Tennessee, Richt said Sunday. Freshman linebacker T.J. Stripling, who injured a knee, will have season-ending patella tendon surgery, Richt said.
The numbers game
Georgia's record in its past 20 games.
“We knew they were going to try and run the ball and milk the clock and kick a field goal. I knew I had the opportunity to come off the edge and maybe disrupt the handoff. ... All I did was run at him knowing that he was going to get the handoff. He kind of flinched or botched his hands or maybe the quarterback hit [the handoff] in the wrong place.”
-- Colorado linebacker B.J. Beatty's view of the play on which he forced a Caleb King fumble late in Saturday's game
When Walsh missed a 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, it was his first miss from any distance this season and just the second miss of his career in the 40-49 yards range. ... Freshman defensive end Garrison Smith saw his first action of the season, meaning he will not redshirt.
Georgia (1-4, 0-3 SEC) will try again for its first conference victory of the season Saturday when Tennessee, coached by Derek Dooley, comes to Sanford Stadium. Kickoff is 12:21 p.m. on SEC Network. The Vols (2-3, 0-2) are coming off a last-play-of-the-game loss to unbeaten LSU.
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