JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Georgia coach Mark Richt wasn’t disappointed in his defense following Saturday’s 27-3 loss to Florida.
While the group gave up 413 yards, including 258 rushing (second-most by the Gators in the series), it wasn’t helped by an offense that was held to a season-low 223 yards, forcing the defense on the field for 67 plays and almost 37 minutes.
“Our defense really played pretty darn good, considering,” Richt said. “Toward the end, it’s tough continuing to play that hard with the circumstances what they were.”
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said the defense must find ways, when facing short fields, to force field goals instead of giving up touchdowns, and it must force more turnovers.
Florida scored two touchdowns on four trips inside the 20-yard line. One of those drives started on Georgia’s 5-yard line after an interception in the second quarter. The other started on Florida’s 20-yard line after another interception in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs forced a turnover on downs at their 11-yard line early in the fourth quarter and the Gators ran out the clock to end the game after reaching Georgia’s 11-yard line.
The Bulldogs forced one turnover early in the third quarter that led to a field goal, and are minus-three this season.
But what seemed to bother Pruitt most was when he said his group failed to execute twice in the first half, which was when the game was still winnable.
Those two plays were all Florida needed.
On the first, Antonio Callaway got behind freshman Johnathan Abram for a 66-yard touchdown reception with 5:06 left in the second quarter. Callaway broke Abram’s tackle, tiptoed the sideline and jogged into the end zone. Abram was playing because Dominick Sanders had to sit out the first half after being ejected for targeting in the first half of the win against Missouri two weeks ago.
On the second, after starting at Georgia’s 5-yard line, Kelvin Taylor scored on a 3-yard run with 2:39 left in the half.
“I don’t know how many snaps we played in the first half but on those other snaps we played like we were supposed to play,” Pruitt said. “The thing we have to do is play them all. We have to learn to play them all the right way. And we will.”
Florida coach Jim McElwain was impressed by Georgia’s effort on defense.
“At times it looked like they were right in the middle of our playbook,” he said.