ATHENS — Georgia’s offense has been criticized for turning the ball over twice and failing to convert a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line into any points in Saturday’s 38-35 loss to Clemson. And while that criticism is certainly justified, so is the notion that an SEC team should be able to score 35 points and win.
The Bulldogs knew they would be in for some growing pains on defense this season. That was certainly evident as six players started for the first time Saturday, including three freshmen. But giving up points in bunches has been a common occurrence the past three seasons, regardless of the number of experienced players on the field.
In the 41 games since Georgia went from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 in 2010, the Bulldogs have allowed opponents 30 or more points 13 times, or roughly a third of the time. Four times in that span opponents have scored more than 40.
That’s almost the pace at which they were giving up 30 or more points the last three years under former coordinator Willie Martinez (13 times in 39 games). He was fired following the 2009 season and is now the defensive backs coach at Tennessee.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who succeeded Martinez in 2010, was measured in his criticism of his unit’s play against the Tigers.
“I thought there were some good things,” he said. “At times, they were stout and did the things we had to do. But we’re so young there, we’ve got to continue to work on their techniques and fundamentals to be consistent in their play. As a whole unit, I walked away thinking if we can build on this, we’ll be fine.”
The Bulldogs missed numerous tackles against Clemson, and players and coaches pointed to poor fundamentals as the main shortcoming. As a result, the Bulldogs held full-contact practices the past two days.
“We pushed them these last two days, and they’ve responded well,” coach Mark Richt said Wednesday. “They responded better today than yesterday. I thought tackled better today.”
WR RECRUIT STILL LIKELY TO REDSHIRT: Even with Malcolm Mitchell lost for the season to a knee injury, it’s unlikely that Bulldogs wide receiver Tramel Terry will play this season and definitely not this week as South Carolina visits Sanford Stadium.
“My guess is that Tramel would not play this year,” Richt said. “That’s my best guess right now. We don’t have to determine that for a while, but we have some other guys we think can play. And it’s tough to come off an ACL like that and really be the best that he could be. We know he’ll be better than he’d be right now.”
Terry, voted “Mr. Football” in the state of South Carolina last year, had ACL surgery in January and spoke of trying to play this season. But he had at least one setback with the knee in preseason practice and was sidelined with a concussion Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Richt said it’s more likely that freshman Reggie Davis and junior college transfer Jonathan Rumph would move up in the receiver rotation.
KICKING SAGA CONTINUES: UGA has continued to turn down media interview requests for kickers Patrick Beless and Adam Erickson. Reporters are seeking to tell the story of two walk-ons who are competing again this week to fill in for suspended starter Marshall Morgan.
Richt was asked Wednesday why they’re not being made available. “They’ve got enough to think about right now,” he said. “I don’t need them to become media darlings.”
Beless won a “close competition” with Erickson to kick in the opener against Clemson. The sophomore went 5-for-5 on PATs. But Richt said the competition would be renewed for Saturday’s game against South Carolina.
Meanwhile, Richt said Morgan would return for Game 3. Morgan is serving a two-game suspension for being arrested for boating under the influence this summer.
INJURY REPORT: Tight end Jay Rome missed practice Wednesday while getting treatment for a sprained left ankle, and freshman cornerbacks Brendan Langley (leg) and Shaq Wiggins (illness) also sat out. All three are expected to be available to play Saturday … Others sidelined with ailments Wednesday included running back Kyle Karempelis (shoulder sprain), linebacker Chase Vasser (ankle) and receiver Rantavious Wooten (ankle). Tailback Todd Gurley said his strained thigh muscle is a non-issue this week.