Georgia flips the switch to win

sports@macon.comNovember 3, 2012 

ATHENS -- In the first half of Saturday’s Georgia-Mississippi game, the Bulldogs’ fans booed a lot. They were not happy. The team that seemed to disappear last week showed up again.

Remember that team -- the one that laid an egg in Columbia when South Carolina embarrassed Georgia and the one that almost lost at Kentucky two weeks ago?

We all thought after last week’s game in Jacksonville, Fla., that we’d never see that sluggish and stale team again. Georgia was motivated and wanted to beat Florida, instead of a team that just showed up because it had to in the previous two games.

Saturday against Ole Miss, we saw both teams. The first half was almost like a replay of the nightmare in Columbia. Georgia fumbled twice, gave up five sacks and had stalled offensive drives.

Then in the second half the team that shut down the Gators last week came through the curtain and reappeared.

Hasn’t that been the story line of this year’s Georgia team? You’ve never really known from one quarter to the next which team will show up. The Bulldogs have looked great at times and yet uninterested in some games.

It seems to all boil down to motivation. If Georgia’s players are motivated to win, they do great. If not, look out. You might get a team that looks like it doesn’t even belong in the SEC.

Yes, the Bulldogs can look that bad.

At halftime Saturday, the Bulldogs led by only four points. They grabbed the lead with a touchdown right before the horn blew for the break. Frankly, the touchdown pass by quarterback Aaron Murray to wide receiver Tavarres King saved their bacon. Georgia needed that to get on track.

“It just takes one play, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell said. “We can count on Todd (Gurley), on Keith (Marshall), on Aaron, on anybody on the field to get that spark going.”

“That was a big play,” center David Andrews said. “It kept the crowd into it, too. I know they were frustrated, and we were frustrated, too.”

When the boys in red came back out for the third quarter, they looked like a different team -- the same team that gave Florida the deer-in-the-headlights-look last week. The defense was outstanding in the second half and shut out the pesky Rebels in the final 30 minutes, while the offense went to work.

“We just got refocused,” King said. “There were plays to be made there in the first half we didn’t make. We just made a few adjustments. We went out there and attacked those guys.”

It’s almost as if there’s a light switch the Georgia team has, and when the Bulldogs decide to flip it on, you know they are ready to play. Trailing 10-0 to Ole Miss was enough to make the Bulldogs know they had to do something before it was too late.

“We had to wake up,” Andrews said. “That light switch was off that first half or for most of that first half. We had to come in and wake up. We played awful. There was no ands, ifs or buts about it. As an O-line we did not play good. We knew that, and we came out in that second half ready to go and knew we had to step it up and turn on that light switch to get going.”

The difference was startling. In the first half, Georgia had 251 yards of offense and gave up 179 yards to Ole Miss. In the second half, the Bulldogs had 282 offensive yards and gave up only 55 yards to the Rebels. The offensive line gave up five sacks in the first half, but Murray stayed upright after halftime.

“You never want to get hit in the mouth in the first place,” Andrews said. “You want to deliver the punch. We got hit in the mouth this week. We took a couple of haymakers and kept going. We kept throwing. We had to get going, and we did.”

Georgia will annihilate Auburn this week. It won’t matter which of Georgia’s two teams show up. Auburn is so bad that Georgia will win no matter what. But as the Bulldogs prepare for their inevitable matchup with the SEC West champion next month in Atlanta, they better start playing like the team we saw in the second half Saturday.

That’s the Georgia team that can sure look good when it has the light switch turned on.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on twitter@yahoo.com.

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