ATHENS — It was a folding chair in a corner of Georgia’s postgame football locker room. For John Theus, however, it seemed like a couch.
It was after the Missouri game, which Georgia had won, albeit in a close and offensively-challenged game. Still, most Bulldogs were in a good mood, happy to end a two-game losing streak.
Then there was Theus, the senior left tackle.
“I’m thankful that we won,” he said. “It makes it hurt a little less.”
Theus gave up a couple sacks and was called for a holding penalty in Georgia’s 9-6 win. He wasn’t sugarcoating his game either.
“I’m definitely gonna learn from it,” he said, his arms folded across his chest. “It’s life. Stuff happens. You’re not gonna have a jam-up great game every week. That’s just part of it. You’ve just gotta try to minimize as many of the bad plays as you can.”
There was reason for Theus, who has started every game at left tackle the past two seasons, not to be so ashamed. Missouri has good defensive ends, as usual. (“It seems like every year they reload pass rushers,” Theus said somewhat ruefully.) The sacks may have come from Theus’ side, but the entire offensive line had their moments of struggle. Missouri had eight tackles-for-loss, and they didn’t all come on Theus.
Head coach Mark Richt was more forgiving after watching film on Sunday. Some plays may look worse for Theus than they actually were, Richt said; for instance, Georgia’s pass protection may call for Theus to slide outside and let the guard pick up the end.
“So it kinda looked like John was getting beat inside on the move and putting pressure on the quarterback when in reality there should have been a little help protection there,” Richt said. “There were a couple times, at least once or twice, where he just got beat around the edge. But when you’re going up against a good pass rusher down after down after down people don’t notice the times you block them, because nothing happens. …
“There’s an awful lot of plays we drop back and threw the ball and didn’t have any trouble at all because John and the other guys did their job.”
Indeed, by all accounts Theus has had a good year. Georgia’s pass blocking has been pretty good this year, giving up just eight sacks in seven games. That ranks third-best in the SEC and 24th nationally.
Theus, as the left tackle, deserves plenty of credit for that.
“Pretty good actually,” Richt said when asked to assess Theus’ season. “He’s been solid most of the year.”
Theus, when also asked to assess his season, practically grimaced.
“Good up until this game,” he said. “I’ve had a good year this year I believe. Improving weekly. Today was a little rough.”
He’ll want to use the next two weeks to improve whateve went wrong: Florida, statistically, is even better than Missouri, with 21 sacks this season.