“I was ready to run straight into the hedges,” Allen said. “I was about to bury myself.”
Allen wasn’t alone.
From the quarterback to the kicker to the coaches, nearly everyone on the Georgia sideline was willing to accept a bit of responsibility for the hefty amount of missed opportunities against Vanderbilt. In consecutive weeks, the Bulldogs were happy to come away with a win, but lamented leaving too many points on the field.
“I’m just glad we’re winning,” safety CJ Byrd said. “But we’ve just got to come together and start hitting on all four cylinders and making plays when they come up. That can win or lose a game, those opportunities.”
Against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, Georgia could rely on superior talent to overcome a series of mistakes. The Volunteers lost their first three conference games, and despite Vandy’s strong start, the Commodores ranked near the bottom of the league in total offense and defense.
Next up on the slate for Georgia, however, are two teams that feast on mistakes by their opponents. The Bulldogs will travel to LSU, the incumbent national champions, before heading to Jacksonville for its annual showdown with Florida – easily the toughest stretch of schedule the Bulldogs will face this season.
“I look at the missed opportunities we had (against Vandy),” safety Reshad Jones said. “We had other chances to make plays, too, so I know we need to capitalize on those things when we get into tough ballgames because we’re going to have a lot more tough ballgames and we’re going to have to make those plays to come out with a victory.”
Allen wasn’t alone in his missed interception. Linebacker Darius Dewberry and cornerback Vance Cuff both failed to haul in catchable balls against the Commodores as well.
LSU’s offense features a rotation of two inexperienced quarterbacks – one of the team’s few weaknesses – and Byrd said the Bulldogs will need to pounce on any mistakes the Tigers’ passers make.
“In a closer game, if we were down or something like that, we’ve got to have (interceptions),” Byrd said. “I’m sure those guys are down, but they’ve got to work that much harder so the next time they don’t miss them like that.”
It wasn’t just the defense that fell short of perfection the past two weeks.
Kicker Blair Walsh had been perfect on field goals inside 50 yards during his first six games as a Bulldog, but he missed kicks of 37 and 40 against Vanderbilt. Even his success a week earlier wasn’t what Georgia wanted to see. He booted four field goals in the game as the Bulldogs struggled for touchdowns in the end zone.
Georgia’s offense has been dominant since falling behind to Alabama 31-0 at the half three games ago, but despite racking up nearly 900 yards of offense in the last two weeks, the Bulldogs have scored just 50 points.
Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said he didn’t have a solution to the problems, but said the Bulldogs will spend plenty of time this week focusing on finding one.
“We’re definitely not happy that we’re leaving so many points on the board,” Massaquoi said. “We know that that may come back to bite us in the future. But we’re going to go in and watch film this week and try to correct it, and hopefully next week it will be a different turn out.”
While the margins of victory haven’t been gaudy, head coach Mark Richt said the team is moving in the right direction. No team ever plays a perfect game, he said, but with opponents like LSU and Florida on the horizon, the Bulldogs just need to keep take steps in that direction.
“I don’t think any team every plays the perfect game,” Richt said. “People use the term complete game where you feel like each phase really won their end of the ballgame, and I don’t know if we did that. But we are playing an awful lot of young players, and we need to play on a more consistent basis.”