Georgia Struggles to 13-3 Win over the Herd.
Fred Gibson
Fred Gibson
Dawgpost.com
Posted Sep 19, 2004


ATHENS -- The gremlins that plague Georgia's offense have escaped Columbia, S.C.

On Saturday, the No. 3 Bulldogs had their second straight anemic offensive performance, the kind blamed last week on the ghost of Williams-Brice Stadium, this time in front of 92,746 mostly friendly fans in Sanford Stadium. Georgia survived for a 13-3 victory over Marshall thanks only to an unflinching defense.

"It's a shame," wide receiver Fred Gibson said. "We have so many talented players. We should be putting 40, 50 points on the board no matter who is in the game. We've got so much. I just don't understand why we're scoring 13 points."

The total tied for the fewest points in a victory in the Richt era.

"A win is a win," Gibson said, "but you know as a player we didn't accomplish what we wanted to accomplish today."

Not so, said Coach Mark Richt, whose team improved to 3-0 and faces its first crucial game of the season when it returns to the field Oct. 2 to play No. 4 LSU.

"Three in a row. You have to be happy... right?" he said.

Marshall fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1975 and has lost three straight for the first time ever under ninth-year coach Bob Pruett.

"It came down to a game we could have won in the fourth quarter," Pruett said. "Our guys played hard and we had a chance to win. I felt like coming into this game, our offense and defense could play with Georgia."

He was right about his defense, but the Thundering Herd offense was completely overmatched. After giving up a 57-yard pass on the first play of the game, the Bulldogs' defense allowed Marshall just 103 yards. The 160 total yards was the fewest Georgia has given up since the 2002 SEC Championship Game against Arkansas (139).

"Our defense is playing great," center Russ Tanner said, "but we can't depend on them to hold everybody we play to three points."

Marshall scored on its first drive of the game, but Georgia took a 10-3 lead into the halftime locker room thanks to a 2-yard Michael Cooper touchdown run and a 33-yard Andy Bailey field goal.

The Bulldog defense, which held Marshall to 1.6 yards per rush, made its most dramatic statement on the Thundering Herd's first drive of the second half. Tyson Browning fumbled to give Marshall the ball at Georgia's 11-yard line. Earl Charles gained 7 yards on the first play of the drive, but the Bulldogs stopped Marshall on a fourth-and-one three plays later. The Thundering Herd had 11 yards of offense in the third quarter.

"We pretty much controlled the game throughout," Richt said. "We never got in real trouble."

That was thanks to the defense. The Bulldogs scored more touchdowns (four) in the third quarter of the Georgia Southern game than they have in the two games since (three). Georgia had 371 yards of total offense Saturday but converted only 3-of-14 third downs and had 11 penalties for 102 yards (not all of those were called against the offense).

Richt was quick to give plenty of credit to Marshall, which also has lost to Troy and Ohio State this year.

"I really think if you put Auburn or Alabama or LSU or Tennessee on the side of their helmets, I think they would stand up with anybody in our league," he said. "That's what I think of them."

But the offensive players were clearly frustrated and no one expressed it more than Gibson, who caught five passes for 34 yards. Tight end Leonard Pope was the leading receiver with two catches for 49 yards. Thomas Brown led all rushers with 81 yards on 18 carries.

"I'm not saying I'm worried. I'm just saying we have to pick it up," Gibson said. "Three-and-out isn't going to get it done, especially with LSU coming to town."

The Bulldogs have an off week this Saturday before hosting the No. 4 Tigers. Quarterback David Greene, who was 17 of 30 for 209 yards, thinks Georgia will be able to use the extra time to develop a larger offensive game plan, he said.

"That'll help... I hope," he said.


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