Georgia needs to nail things down to bounce back

dshirley@macon.comSeptember 6, 2013 

UGA_CLM

Georgia running back Todd Gurley runs for a first down against Clemson. Gurley rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Clemson beat Georgia, 38-35.

DONN RODENROTH — For The Telegraph

Coaches say it all the time before big games: Four or five plays are going to decide the outcome.

That’s exactly what we saw Saturday as Georgia lost its season opener to Clemson.

It was a close game throughout, and indeed, four or five plays made the difference.

Two Aaron Murray turnovers proved pivotal, as did several penalties that kept the Bulldogs from getting any real traction in that game.

Those kinds of problems just can’t continue this week if Georgia is going to bounce back in its SEC opener against South Carolina. Georgia is at home, and that should help, and the Bulldogs should be more desperate than the Gamecocks, and that should give the Bulldogs an advantage, as well.

But Georgia has to play better to have a chance against South Carolina. The Gamecocks have had the Bulldogs’ number the past few seasons, and they have gotten in the Bulldogs’ head with their recent success in the series.

Jadeveon Clowney blew up Georgia’s plans last year and led the Gamecocks to a 31-7 win that has hung over the Bulldogs all the way to this week. Georgia fans have been thinking about that game ever since, and the Bulldogs finally get their chance at redemption Saturday. But they will need to tighten up on the mistakes they made against Clemson.

Murray’s fumble was not really his fault; he was hit by two different players on that sack. But the interception he threw against a zone blitz was a mistake a fourth-year starter should not be tricked into. The fumble led to a Clemson touchdown, and the interception came deep in Clemson territory and kept the Bulldogs from taking the lead into halftime.

There were also nine penalties, and most of them seemed to come at bad times. A couple of them eliminated nice runs by Todd Gurley and pushed the Bulldogs into tough situations that they couldn’t overcome for first downs.

In a game that was a one-score contest for most of the night, those kinds of mistakes are difference-makers. This week, those mistakes will be even more crucial to avoid. The Bulldogs need to respond to last week’s loss against the Gamecocks and get their SEC season started the right way.

They can only do that by tightening up their play and eliminating the key mistakes they made against Clemson.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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