ATHENS – When Georgia’s defense gave up its first score of the season on Saturday, it came on a 22-yard pass. Jeremy Pruitt, the secondary coach and defensive coordinator, reacted by looking out to his players and holding his arms up as if to say: What was that?
For Pruitt, that was a fairly subdued reaction. And coach Mark Richt’s reaction on Sunday, after watching film of his pass defense’s two hiccups in an otherwise easy 51-14 victory, also didn’t bely much long-term worry.
Louisiana-Monroe may be a Sun Belt school, but it passes the ball a lot, Richt pointed out. (It ranked 25th nationally last year in passing yardage, out of 128 teams.) The Warhawks also did a lot of run-pass option, in which the quarterback could pull the ball out of the tailback’s belly at the last moment if they thought a pass play was there.
“They’re good at it,” Richt said during his Sunday evening media teleconference. “They did complete a very high percentage of passes, some longer than others. But we really got hurt when the ball got thrown downfield. There were two plays where they took advantage of us being out of position in the (secondary). We’ve just gotta do a better job of being where we’re supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there, and make them earn it.”
It had been a good start to the game for Georgia’s secondary, which limited the Warhawks to just 56 passing yards on its first seven drives. And zero points. But the next two, before and after halftime, saw 136 passing yards and two touchdowns, both to receiver Rashon Ceasar.
The one new starter in Georgia’s secondary is freshman Rico McGraw, who was playing the star position. But Richt didn’t blame it on him.
“I wouldn’t attribute any of that to Rico, and we as coaches aren’t going to call anyone out,” Richt said, adding that in many instances it could also be the fault of people at other positions. “It all works together, and we’ve just gotta clean it up.”
As for the team in general, Richt was asked if the amount of cleaning up was any more or less than previous seasons. He said it was hard to compare, but it didn’t seem unusual.
“I would say it was a pretty typical first game,” Richt said.
Some other notes from Richt’s Sunday teleconference:
– Sophomore tailback A.J. Turman, who didn’t suit up Saturday, is believed to be dealing with an ankle injury, Richt said.
“Not too serious at all. I think he’ll be fine this week,” Richt said.
Turman was not among the top four tailbacks going into the game, but some of that might have been because of his availability.
– Asked whether there would be a plan to get Brice Ramsey some playing time in the first half again, Richt didn’t indicate either way.
“We’re not gonna make any promises on anything, and we haven’t even talked about all that yet,” Richt said, adding that any such decision would be made later in the week.
Ramsey appeared for one series, in the second quarter, completing both of his passes, including a dump-off to Sony Michel that ended up being a touchdown. But starter Greyson Lambert also had a good game, and Richt said afterwards that Lambert remained the starter “for now.”
Lambert had two passes batted down, which was notable considering that at 6-foot-5 he’s the tallest quarterback at Georgia since 1964. But Richt didn’t seem too worried about it yet.
“Every once in awhile they just get batted,” Richt said.
– Leonard Floyd played inside linebacker on Saturday, along with some at the nickel back. It was the start of what will likely be a week-to-week decision on where he’ll play, as coaches have said Floyd could also play outside linebacker and defensive end.
“We’re going to get him in the spot that gives us the best chance to get him in a playmaking spot,” Richt said. “You definitely have to figure out who you’re playing, what they do best, and how we get our players to match up best against them.”