Mark Richt: Not exactly the master of time and space

Brian Schottenheimer congratulates Sony Michel.

ATHENS — These short takes are offered as an adjunct to the UGA-Georgia Southern game column, which can be found here. UGA won 23-17 in overtime. That’s correct – in overtime.

1. Mark Richt isn’t exactly the master of time and space. I apologize for repeating a line – I used it last year to describe the Falcons’ Mike Smith, to whom it also applied – but the UGA coach botched the clock twice more. After Jake Ganus stopped the Eagles’ L.A. Ramsby for a 5-yard loss on second-and-6 with 1:33 left in the half, Richt neglected to spend the first of his three timeouts. He used one after third down, but by then it was too late. After a punt, the Bulldogs took the ball at 0:37. They elected to let the half expire. At the close of the second half, Richt saved only 33 seconds for his team, which wasn’t nearly enough to avoid overtime. UGA chose to let the clock expire then as well. (The Sanford Stadium crowd booed.) Credit Richt’s team for winning once there, but let’s be honest: From the 3:47 mark of the second quarter until overtime, the Bulldogs never led. Against Georgia Southern.

2. Eagles coach Willie Fritz didn’t drench himself in strategic glory, either. He chose not to go for it on fourth-and-5 from UGA’s 40 with 39 seconds remaining. (Georgia Southern punted instead.) Doesn’t the earnest underdog have to take risks? When the Eagles did go for it on fourth-and-1 in overtime, they ran a weird play. They split the quarterback wide and had Ramsby take the direct snap. They didn’t run the option. They ran something that fooled nobody. Jordan Jenkins stopped Ramsby for a 3-yard loss. Fritz is demonstrably a terrific coach – he did a lot more with his team this night than Richt did with his – but those fourth-down decisions dimmed what could have been a shining night for the guys from Statesboro.

3. UGA really doesn’t have much of an offense, does it? Against a non-Power Five opponent, the Bulldogs mustered 313 yards, 25 coming on Sony Michel’s winning burst in overtime. (West Virginia managed 544 yards against this same team in winning 44-0.) Greyson Lambert completed 16 passes, the longest for 27 yards. He did throw a nice ball to Terry Godwin for the tying touchdown, though Godwin made a nicer catch. Michel gained 132 yards and was the only reason the Bulldogs didn’t lose. His fourth-and-1 conversion at the Georgia Southern 20 was the biggest play of regulation. Lambert hit Godwin two plays later. A fourth-down failure there and who knows?

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