"Obviously, it leaves a bad taste in our mouths," first-year defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "Now, we have something to think about all offseason."
The Mountaineers had 502 yards of offense and rushed for 382, more than a Mark Richt team has ever surrendered. No other Georgia opponent had gained more than 300 yards on the ground, but Martinez insisted that had nothing to do with the Bulldogs underestimating the speed of West Virginia quarterback Pat White and tailback Steve Slaton.
"I can't tell you how much we pounded that and watched film," Martinez said. "If you were in our meeting room, that would not be a question you'd ask. On film, it shows. It shows those kids pulling away from angles. We didn't underestimate them, we knew they were very talented."
Slaton set a Sugar Bowl record with 204 rushing yards. White threw for 120 yards and rushed for another 77.
"They both are incredible athletes and great competitors," Georgia defensive end Quentin Moses said. "We pretty much knew everything they were going to do. The problem was stopping it. You watch film and you practice and try to imitate it, but actually going out there and going up against it is a completely different story."
The Bulldog defense got itself turned around in the second half and allowed just one scoring drive, a nine-play, 95-yard march that turned out to be the difference-maker.
"I don't think exhaustion was the reason we didn't stop them on that last drive, they did a nice job of executing their offense on that last drive," Coach Mark Richt said. "You have to give them credit, they are very fast and very elusive athletes."