Stafford still learning his lessons
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Dawg Post Reporter
Posted Sep 17, 2006


ATHENS – Of all the dozens of lessons Matthew Stafford added to his catalog of knowledge Saturday, one stood out – to him and to the 92,746 fans watching.

In the first half of Georgia’s 34-0 win over UAB, Stafford failed to identify a safety blitz and paid with his flesh and a 4-yard loss.

“That’s what happens when you miss it, you get hit from behind… hard,” Coach Mark Richt said one day after his team improved 3-0 on the season. “I mean a guy with as 10-yard run is right into your rib cage. I would think that was a very valuable lesson that he will not soon forget.”

After watching the tape of his true freshman’s 10-for-17 performance, Richt’s assessment was unchanged from Saturday.

“He’s going through the growing pains of being a major college quarterback,” Richt said. “One play, he’ll look like a million dollars and the next play, he’ll have a bust.”

Stafford threw for 107 yards against the Blazers. In his defense, the blitz that tripped him up was well-disguised and could have fooled even a veteran quarterback, Richt said.

Stafford will get more game experience Saturday when No. 9 Georgia takes on Colorado (0-3) in Sanford Stadium. The 12:30 p.m. game will be televised by Lincoln Financial.

“It doesn’t just happen overnight,” Richt said. “You don’t just knight a guy. He has to earn it, and he’s in the process of earning it.”

Stafford’s fundamentals, footwork and ball-handling all began to slip as the game wore on, which is natural with a young player, Richt said.

“He’s still ingraining these things in his mind,” the coach said. “It’s just your natural progression of learning the position. He’s just doing it in front of the whole world here.”

The Bulldogs’ 271 yards of total offense was their lowest total since they gained 250 in a 34-14 win over LSU in last year’s SEC Championship Game.

“It’s just exciting to see where we can go from here,” Stafford said. “We had some opportunities to make some real big plays, and I think more reps is just going to help us.”

There was little left to say Sunday about the Georgia defense, which posted its second straight shutout. The Bulldogs, who haven’t given up a touchdown in 150 minutes of game time, are now second in the nation in scoring defense with four points allowed per game.

“I’m sure we’ll face some people who will test us more than we’ve been tested to this point, but the thing that makes our guys special right now is how hard they’re playing and the amount of confidence they’re playing with right now,” Richt said.


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