Georgia won’t panic after slow start

ATHENS — A week ago, head coach Mark Richt made the decision that Georgia would practice on Sundays for the first time. The idea, he said, was to give the team a chance to watch the previous week’s game film and then put the results behind them quickly.

After a disastrous opening week performance, the new schedule couldn’t have come at a better time, wide receiver Michael Moore said, and the plans for this week’s matchup against South Carolina couldn’t start soon enough.

“We can look a thousand times better,” Moore said. “There were a lot of minor errors that really showed up big. But we know we can create big plays and get those mismatches. We’ll go into South Carolina with a different focus.”

Georgia actually opened the game against Oklahoma State with what appeared to be a sharp focus, marching 80 yards for a touchdown on its first drive.

After that, however, the offense slumped badly, tallying just 187 total yards the rest of the way while turning the ball over three times. The 257 total yards Georgia managed was its lowest total since a 35-14 loss to Tennessee in 2007.

“It seemed like whenever we’d have a good play, there’d always be one person or two people that didn’t finish a block, or even me — we’d have a guy running open and I wouldn’t put it on him,” quarterback Joe Cox said. “It was just little things that really hurt us on offense.”

That’s the good news, Cox said. After reviewing the carnage from Oklahoma, the film seemed to indicate a massive overhaul wasn’t necessary. It’s just a matter of getting the little things to click.

“Mainly it was just minor errors,” Moore said. “There were a lot of plays where we were really one block away from a touchdown, and we’ll definitely correct that.”

That starts in the running game, where Richt said the linemen and receivers had a tendency to release their blocks a tick too early, leaving a tackler ready to take down tailback Richard Samuel, who was easily Georgia’s top offensive producer Saturday, racking up 87 yards on 20 carries.

It was the passing game that looked like it had a good bit more work to do.

Cox was just 15-of-30 passing and had two turnovers — a fumble after the line allowed quick penetration and an interception that tipped off the hands of a receiver.

A number of Cox’s passes weren’t particularly crisp, and he held the ball too long on some other throws.

“In the pass game, I would just say we weren’t sharp at all,” Richt said. “There were some times when we looked good, but for the most part, we just weren’t consistent in our effort in the passing game.”

The problem went beyond Cox’s performance, however. Georgia played just three wide receivers in the game, and none made a significant impact.

Michael Moore reeled in Georgia’s lone touchdown — a 4-yard grab — but he had just one other catch in the game. Tavarres King caught one pass, but he and Moore tallied just 10 yards total, and each had key drops in the second half and did little to draw Oklahoma State’s attention away from A.J. Green.

While Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo didn’t pin the problems on the poor performance of the wideouts, he did say it was imperative to get the ball to Green more than four times per game.

“We’ve got to vary what we’re doing formation-wise and try to get the ball in 8’s hands a little more,” Bobo said.

While King and Moore struggled, freshmen Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten remained on the sideline, another issue Bobo said would be remedied against South Carolina.

A healthy week to prepare for the Gamecocks will be another important addition for Cox, who arrived late in Oklahoma after suffering from flu symptoms for three days last week.

The biggest key, however, is simply to go into the game with a better attitude, Cox said. On the first drive, Georgia looked cool and collected, but things changed as the game went on, and it only hindered the offense.

“I think there was a lot of people at certain points in the game played not to mess up,” Cox said. “There (were) times where I didn’t just cut it loose, and I know it’s the same for some other guys. We just need to find what we’re good at and get a plan that everybody knows what to do and can cut it loose and play full speed, and we’ll be fine.”

That’s what this week will be about, Bobo said.

Despite the problems against Oklahoma State, there was a spark of hope, he said. Now it’s up to him to turn the spark into an offensive explosion.

“Personally I feel like we’ve got to get back to figuring out what we can do,” Bobo said. “I think we had a little too much in the game plan and obviously we didn’t execute it very well. We’ve got to find out what we can do and do it well.”

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