Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Warren McClendon (70) celebrates after running back Kenny McIntosh, behind McClendon, scores a two-yard touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a NCAA football game at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, November 26, 2022, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 37-14. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Georgia captain Warren McClendon intent on cashing in on Red Zone trips, winning SEC title

ATLANTA — Warren McClendon grew up in Georgia dreaming of playing in the SEC Championship Game.

The Bulldogs’ starting right tackle and team captain also dreamed of winning it — something he nor any of his offensive linemates can say they have done.

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“My freshman year (2019) we went and we lost to LSU, (and) last year we went and lost to Alabama,” McClendon said.

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“There’s definitely motivation for this game. We won the East, and (last year) we won the big one, but not the SEC championship, (so) there’s definitely some motivation for this one.”

Georgia is a 17 1/2-point favorite over LSU, but McClendon points out Georgia needs to make sure it maximizes each trip into enemy territory to give itself the best chance of winning.

The Bulldogs lead the nation in Red Zone efficiency, scoring on 64 of 66 trips inside opponents’ 20-yard lines.

Coach Kirby Smart, however, said his staff scrutinizes those Red Zone trips differently, looking more closely at the touchdown ratio.

Georgia, in that department, is not nearly as impressive, scoring touchdowns on 65.1 percent of its Red Zone trips.

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Most other CFP contenders have been more impressive, by comparison:

Michigan: .650

TCU: .680

USC: .761

Ohio State: .758

Alabama: .667

“One of our big things is scoring in the Red Zone,” McClendon said. “Lately, we haven’t been the best in scoring in the red zone. We’ve been getting field goals and stuff like that, when we want to score seven.”

More than anything, McClendon and Georgia just want to get another one of those elusive SEC Championship Trophies.

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