Learning how to win the close games is part of becoming a good team and that's a lesson the Georgia Bulldogs are still trying to comprehend.
Head coach Mark Richt admitted as much during Tuesday's weekly press conference at Stegeman Coliseum, pointing out a litany of issues that continue to haunt his 2010 squad and a big reason the Bulldogs sit at 4-5 heading into Saturday's game against Idaho State.
"We were kind of talking about it and in the close games we've had some crucial turnovers. We know that," Richt said. "Our turnover ratio (0.44) overall is actually pretty good and we're second (40.1 yards per game) in the league as far as penalties, so we've corrected some of our issues. But when we have had turnovers they have been at crucial times in crucial games that have been very close, so that's been part of it."
It's played a big part, actually.
When Aaron Murray threw a third-down interception in overtime to Will Hill, it ruined whatever chances the Bulldogs had. Don't forget Caleb King's last minute fumble at Colorado and Washaun Ealey's fumbles inside the 5-yard line against South Carolina and Mississippi State.
"We've also had a little bit of misfortune because even though we have not been penalized that much, I guess the MSU game we had a touchdown called back on a penalty and I think we had an interception called back on a penalty," Richt said. "We also had that fumble (by Ealey) inside the 5, so even though we haven't had a lot of those things, they've been very untimely. I'm guessing that would be the best way to say it."
There have been other issues, too, that have been a burr under the saddle for Richt, who at times has seemed at a loss for how to correct some of the issues.
"We've certainly had some times defensively where we've had guys flat out of position and a big play occurs because of that. Again, it's not like it's happening over and over, but all it takes is one time and boom, you're in trouble," Richt said. "Those have been the main things. We had ourselves in the position in the Arkansas game and the Florida game to come from behind, get in position to win and getting back in control after you've been chasing from behind but getting to that moment of truth and not be able to make the plays that it takes to win. That's been a little bit of a factor, too."
Grantham's "choke sign" addressed
Richt said Tuesday that he was aware of the picture that shows defensive coordinator Todd Grantham issuing what appeared to be a choke sign directed at Florida kicker Chas Henry prior to his game-winning field goal.
Although Richt did not come and say that's exactly what Grantham did, he did address the issue.
"I'm aware of it and I'll just say that emotions run high and people do things they probably wish they wouldn't do," Richt said. "I think that's what's probably being communicated so I don't think he's necessarily proud of it. We're just going to learn from it and move on."
Grantham has yet to comment but was expected to meet with reporters after Tuesday's practice.
Richt hasn't addressed Va. Tech-JMU - yet
Anytime a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) team plays one of the big boys, one game typically comes to mind.
It's only been a few years ago since Appalachian State traveled to Ann Arbor and stunned mighty Michigan, a scene that was repeated just a couple of weeks ago when James Madison stunned Virginia Tech.
Richt said he's yet to remind his Bulldogs about those games. But he will.
"The closer we get to the game I probably will but my main goal today is that we have a lot of energy in practice and we focus on improving," Richt said. "But when the week gets toward the end you start thinking more about the motivation for the game, the motivation of the practice and those things usually get brought up."
The Bulldogs (4-5) should still have incentive for beating the Bengals.
Georgia still needs two victories to become bowl eligible and a win over Idaho State will count toward that total.
This and That: Richt said that wide receiver Kris Durham likely won't play this week while he recovers from a bruised lung. It's the same injury that cost A.J. Green a game last year.
Offensive lineman Austin Long and Kolton Houston are back working with the team and will be full go for spring drills. Richt said he also expects freshman Brent Benedict, who is recovering a blown out knee, to also be ready once spring drills begin.
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