September 20, 2009

Richt breaks down the good, bad

One thing Georgia coach Mark Richt has learned to do in his nine years as head coach of the Bulldogs is take the good with bad.

That pretty much summed up his thoughts during Sunday's teleconference with beat writers, not even 24 hours after his Bulldogs outscored Arkansas 52-41 Saturday night in Fayetteville.

"The guys are beginning to believe that they are not out of any game, and the more times you get put in the fire, it refines you and makes you stronger and tougher mentally," said Richt. "We've been in some battles and shown we can be the last one standing. However, we have to stop the self-inflicted wounds, and when we do that, we'll improve tremendously."

Richt had plenty of good to say about quarterback Joe Cox.

A record-tying performance by Cox (18 for 26, 375 yards and five touchdowns) not only was needed to beat the Razorbacks, but it was good enough to earn the fifth-year senior the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Week honors.

Cox's five touchdown passes tied Matthew Stafford, D.J Shockley and David Green for the most in a game.

For the year, Cox is 50-of-79 for 738 yards and has eight touchdowns and only three interceptions.

"It was not a surprise, really," Richt said. "He has a knack for hitting a guy on the run. We've seen him do it in practice for years, so that was not a surprise. More people just got to see him do it this time."

A.J. Green's performance certainly didn't surprise anyone.

Despite being double-covered for most of the evening, Green still caught seven passes for 137 yards and two scores.

But that wasn't all Green helped the Bulldogs (2-1, 2-0) achieve.

Because Arkansas was so concerned with rolling its coverage toward the South Carolina native, that left the rest of Georgia's receivers wide open, a fact Cox was able to take full advantage of.

In fact, it was Cox's 21-yard touchdown pass to Aron White, his 50-yarder to Tavarres and 44-yarder to Orson Charles that pleased Richt most of all.

For White, the touchdown was his third in five career catches while King and Charles both found the end zone for the first time in their respective careers.

"I think it's great. We felt like when we started the season that we were going to need somebody else to make plays. We thought maybe Richard (Samuel) and perhaps somebody else," Richt said. "We knew Mike (Moore) could make plays, Aron we thought could, and Orson. We're starting to get a different group of playmakers. Branden Smith has also made some plays, too, so the more guys we get, the more opportunities we as an offense are going to have."

Now for the bad:

After surrendering 37 points to South Carolina, Georgia gave up 42 to Arkansas as Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett gashed the Bulldog for 21-of-39 passing for 408 yards and five touchdowns.

During his post-game press conference, Richt expressed great concern, particularly with some of the issues in the secondary regarding blown coverage and missed assignments.

Sunday, however, he appeared to shift just slightly, focusing more on the turnovers which continue to put the defense on a short field.

Fourteen of Arkansas' points were a direction result of mistakes by the Bulldogs, who lost two fumbles and had one pass intercepted.

Georgia has surrendered 102 points on the year and part of that has been due to turnovers deep in its own territory. Opponents have scored 40 points off nine Bulldogs miscues while Georgia has just six points off two turnovers.

"I'm not real excited about it (giving up so many points), but I do know we have an opportunity to continue to improve and if we do that number will go down," Richt said. "But the first thing we have to do is improve our turnover ratio. We've put our defense in very short field situations eight times in three games. That's way too many. We've had years where we don't see that many the entire year, much less three games. If we can get that ironed out, it will help us tremendously."

NOTES: Richt did not have an update on backup cornerback Vance Cuff (knee) or backup fullback Justin Fields (shoulder). … Georgia improved to No. 21 in this week's AP Top 25 Poll but jumped to No. 17 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25.

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