By JASON BUTT
ATHENS — He didn’t give a “fire and brimstone” speech, even if one could have been warranted.
Following the second quarter of Georgia’s 48-6 win over Southern, Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt felt the need to tell his team the truth. The No. 7 Bulldogs just lost both lines of scrimmage to Southern during the second 15 minutes of play. After jumping to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, Georgia sat back and took Southern’s best effort without responding to it.
Maybe some of it had to do with the quick lead. Perhaps some of it was due to Alabama being Georgia’s next opponent. Regardless, Georgia only led Southern 20-6 at halftime, with Richt forced to point out his team’s flaws during a game Georgia was supposed to handle from the onset.
“It wasn’t an unbelievable fire and brimstone speech or anything like that,” Richt said. “But I just said, ‘The way I see it, I think their line of scrimmage is beating ours right now. It’s a big man’s game. If we control the line of scrimmage, good things will happen.’ ”
Georgia adjusted and responded quickly in the second half. Totaling 31 yards on nine carries in the game’s first two quarters, Nick Chubb exploded with 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the third, giving him 131 for the game. It marked the 12th consecutive game Chubb has rushed for more than 100 yards.
Also in the third, quarterback Greyson Lambert connected with receiver Malcolm Mitchell for a 23-yard touchdown and running back Sony Michel scampered for a 58-yard score. On Michel’s long touchdown run, the sophomore bounced off a couple of defenders before taking the ball the distance. Michel finished with six carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
In a matter of almost 13 minutes of football after the half, Georgia was sitting comfortable and in the position it was supposed to be in from the start.
“We just needed to run the ball to where they can’t stop us,” Chubb said.
Defensively, it was a similar issue. In the second quarter, Georgia surrendered 93 total yards to Southern, which ended the first half with 150. During the final two quarters, the Bulldogs held the Jaguars to 34.
Georgia defensive end Sterling Bailey said he was pleased to see the defense do a better job defending Southern in the second half but noted the group has to do a better job of honing in on it responsibilities throughout the entire game.
“It falls on us to bring the energy and bring the juice,” Bailey said.
On its opening offensive possession of the game, Georgia was unable to get the running game going and settled for a 47-yard field goal from place-kicker Marshall Morgan. On Georgia’s next series, following a partially blocked punt by cornerback Malkom Parrish, Lambert set up a screen pass to Chubb, who went 24 yards into the end zone. Lambert completed 9-of-10 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
Michel put the Bulldogs up 17-0 on a 7-yard run with 57 seconds left in the first quarter.
That’s when things got interesting, with Southern marching down the field on a drive which took up 7 minutes, 51 seconds. Southern running back Lenard Tillery capped it with a 16-yard touchdown run.
Morgan added a 25-yard field goal near the end of the second quarter to give Georgia its 20-6 halftime lead.
Against Alabama this week, the Bulldogs likely will need to play better from start to finish. While the necessary adjustments were made and executed in the second half, a glaring second quarter still stood out a week before a crucial conference game.
“We’ll find out what we did wrong, correct it and get better at what we do,” Richt said. “We have so much to get better on, and it’s a task we take very seriously. Our goal is to get better on a daily basis. It sounds boring, but that’s football. Football is a game of repetition. If you continuously rep it well at practice, hopefully, you’ll execute it well in a game.”