Athens, GA - The ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs head into the first bye-week of the season following Saturday’s 41-30 victory over No. 13 South Carolina in the Bulldogs Southeastern Conference opener. Georgia pushed its season record to 1-1 and now 1-0 in the SEC.
The Bulldogs will take next weekend off before welcoming North Texas into Sanford Stadium on Sept. 21.
Head coach Mark Richt said that there were several things from the game Saturday that stood out when we watched the film of the game on Sunday morning.
“I mean just watching Gurley run was fun. He’s just such a powerful back who’s got such great balance and speed. I thought our backs pass protected extremely well, our linemen really did improve from game one to game two, they protected better overall and they got after it physically,” Richt said. “I thought that Sterling Bailey inside played extremely well, Ray Drew really made progress, and Amarlo (Herrera) didn’t have a lot of tackles but just watching him play he seems to be getting better and better as we go. Those are some of the things that stood out to me.”
The Bulldogs win came after a season opening loss at now-No. 3 Clemson. Richt said that the experience of playing against the Tigers prepared Georgia well for the visit of the Gamecocks.
“Losing is no fun; it’s awful to lose period. Losing your first game is no fun at all especially when it’s that big of a game and the whole world is watching,” Richt said. “But I’d have to say it helped us in game two. I’d have to say that we realized there is no margin for error in big games, you can’t make certain mistakes and expect to win. We cut our penalties down tremendously as far as penalty yardage, we didn’t have a turnover, we did drop the punt snap but technically we won the turnover ratio, we tackled better, we blocked better, and we played with more intensity. You just never know what play could be the play that turns the game around with two teams that are very good and you know it’s going to be a close game. I think playing that game and living through it helped us in the South Carolina game.”
One of the major areas of improvement for Richt was the offensive line. Against South Carolina they managed to pave the way for the Bulldogs to record 536 total yards of offense including 227 rushing and 309 passing. They also only allowed two sacks.
“They were challenged for sure this game. If you have a performance that you’re not really proud of then it tends to give you more incentive to play better. We knew it was going to be a real physical game and we knew we were going to do the best we could to run the rock and put it in their hands from time to time and they took it to heart,” Richt said. “I think we’ve got a punch of guys that have to have that effort to be successful, they’re not so physically gifted that they’re going to dominate people. They’re going to have to fight like mad every snap but when they do they’re pretty effective.”
Richt also praised sophomore kicker Patrick Beless who filled in for the suspended Marshall Morgan for the Bulldogs opening two games. Beless went 10-for-10 on extra points and 2-2 on field goals including a career long 37-yard effort against the Gamecocks.
“I try to give him (Beless) a lot of credit publicly for the job that he did. Adam Erickson competed for that job too and competed well, both of them did. I could have flipped a coin really and as it turned out we went with Patrick and he made every kick we asked him to make,” Richt said. “If he didn’t make every kick we asked him to make then we would have been in jeopardy of losing this last one. It would have been a different type of game at the end.”
Despite senior offensive tackle Kenarious Gates and sophomore tailback Keith Marshall exiting Saturday’s game, Richt said the team will not be missing anybody new for the North Texas game.
With the bye week, the Bulldogs head coach said that there would be some changes to the Bulldogs practice schedule for the coming week.
“We’re going to practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We’ll probably put full pads on Tuesday and maybe Wednesday I’m not really sure about that,” Richt said. “Our coaches will get some recruiting in on Friday for sure. I don’t expect anything to be going on Saturday or Sunday, especially with the players. Hopefully the coaches will be far enough along that they won’t have to come in on Sunday or if they do just for a little bit then we’ll go back to our routine.”
After returning to action against North Texas on Sept. 21, the Bulldogs continue SEC action, as they will welcome No. 8 LSU to Sanford Stadium on Sept. 28.