BOULDER, Colo. – Three things gleaned from Saturday’s 29-27 loss to Colorado:
1. Georgia is fumbling away the season. Washaun Ealey barely played Saturday -– he got just one carry -– as a consequence of his critical fumbles inside the opponent’s 5-yard line in losses at South Carolina and Mississippi State. Ealey’s benching created more playing time for Caleb King, who gave Georgia its first 100-yard rusher of the season. But in the final two minutes, with Georgia well within range to kick a potentially game-winning field goal, King fumbled the ball and the game away. (Also, of course, someone should have blocked the linebacker who forced the fumble by striking King a split-second after he took the handoff on what coach Mark Richt called “as basic of a play as we’ve got.”)
2. Georgia desperately needs a full game from A.J. Green. The star wide receiver caught seven passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 40 yards on an end-around, but he still hasn’t played a full game in any of Georgia’s past nine regular-season games. He missed 3 ½ of the final four games last season with injuries, missed the first four games this season because of the NCAA suspension and missed much of the third quarter Saturday night with cramping. Just before he left the game, Green caught a 50-yard pass that put the Bulldogs in position to score the touchdown that gave them a 24-14 lead with 10:40 left in the third quarter. By the time he returned to the game in the fourth quarter, after getting intravenous fluids in the locker room, Georgia trailed 29-24. In the two first-quarter series that Georgia didn’t get Green the ball and the two third-quarter series he did not play, the Bulldogs combined for one first down and minus-1 yard of net offense. In the rest of the game, the Dogs had 19 first downs and 410 yards offense.
3. The defense continues to be burned by big plays. Georgia took a 24-14 lead early in the third quarter, but Colorado scored touchdowns on its next two possessions to go ahead for good. Explosive plays set up both of those TDs. A 65-yard run down the left sideline by tailback Rodney Stewart on an option pitch fueled the first of the two drives. A 46-yard pass to wide receiver Will Jefferson, who got open down the middle behind Vance Cuff, sparked the second. Making matters worse for Georgia on the latter series, Colorado tried to settle for a field goal, but a roughing-the-kicker penalty against Cuff gave the Buffaloes a first down and kept the TD drive alive. Colorado opted to take the three points off the scoreboard and quickly put on seven instead, and that proved to be the difference in a game ultimately decided by two.