Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he was disappointed that senior defensive back DeAndre Baker dropped the ball short of the goal line during his interception return Saturday against South Carolina.
Baker had a clear path to the end zone after returning an interception off Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley on the first drive of the game, but Baker dropped the ball near the 1-yard line.
“Obviously, I was disappointed he would do that prior to crossing the goal line,” Smart said. “I think it’s an effect of not having any opportunities to do that. It was almost the exact same situation in the spring game. We went back and showed him that today ... He’ll get some extra practice doing it today.”
Immediately after Baker’s mishap, senior linebacker Juwan Taylor picked up the fumbled ball on the Gamecocks’ 1-yard line and brought it over the goal line for the touchdown.
Taylor said he immediately realized Baker’s mistake and knew what he had to do.
“It was an immediate reaction,” Taylor said Monday. “Something didn’t look right, so I just scooped it up.”
When asked if any teammates have teased Baker for celebrating a touchdown too early, defensive lineman Julian Rochester laughed and said the team has mostly let the mistake go.
“We’re going to talk about it today most likely, we’ll talk about it in the team meeting, but we scored, we got the touchdown, so we’ll just let it be,” Rochester said.
The Bulldogs play Middle Tennessee at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at Sanford Stadium.