ATHENS – Lorenzo Carter’s smile, so bright in every media session up until now, was gone. Normally the most chipper Georgia football player, he was the most forlorn.
Carter had not played well, and he knew it. Yes, hardly anybody did, which is the nature of a 45-14 blowout loss, but Carter’s struggles were glaring. And he knew it.
More than twice, Carter had Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly in or near his grasp and couldn’t pull him down. Carter kept getting close. And he kept missing.
“Yeah. It’s pretty frustrating,” Carter said. “Gotta work on finishing, personally. Gonna finish on the quarterback. Finish plays. Go out there and capitalize.”
Head coach Kirby Smart, when belaboring the lack of big plays that could have changed momentum, mentioned Carter and cornerback Malkom Parrish.
“At the end of the day, the thing snowballed and we didn’t have anybody step up and make a play,” Smart said. “Lorenzo Carter, go make a play. Go make a tackle for a loss right there. Go make a play there on the perimeter there, Malkom, and it possibly changes the game. But we didn’t do that.”
The most memorable, if that’s the right term, of Carter’s misses came early in the second quarter: He closed in on Kelly near midfield, and had his jersey, but Kelly shook him off, and before Carter had a chance to make another try, Kelly heaved a pass downfield. Receiver DaMarkus Lodge hauled it in for a 55-yard touchdown catch. The extra point gave Ole Miss a 17-0 lead.
Carter and fellow outside linebacker Davin Bellamy entered the game with zero sacks on the season. Bellamy finally ended his shutout, splitting one with safety Dominick Sanders.
But it was Georgia’s only one of the game.
“Sure, I’d love to be able to pass rush,” Smart said, before adding: “You’ve got to be able to play the run, too.”
The coach then opined that watching tape of the game would show that some plays that seemed like pass-rush situations were run-pass options. Ole Miss did a good job protecting the pocket, Smart said, and then letting Kelly have a run-pass option out of that.
“They played two really good defenses before us, and put a lot of numbers on them,” Smart said of Ole Miss, which lost high-scoring affairs to Florida State and Alabama.
All that was little solace to Carter. He was told how forlorn he seemed.
“Yeah,” he said, stretching the words out.
He shook his head.
“It’s a bad feeling, coming in and not playing as well as you could,” Carter said. “But we’ve gotta go out and play better next week.”