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November 11, 2007More and more, big offensive plays are becoming status quo for 8th-ranked Georgia and Bulldogs coach Mark Richt couldn't be more pleased.
Particularly, he said, as it pertains to quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The results have been impressive.
During Georgia's current four-game winning streak, Stafford has completed 57 of 85 passes for 880 yards and eight touchdowns.
Of those eight scoring passes, three have been from at least 32 yards out, including last week's 58-yarder to Mohamed Massaquoi and a 45-yard toss to Sean Bailey that set up another score in Georgia's 45-20 win over previously 18th-ranked Auburn.
"We've thrown some deep balls, we've taken some chances," Richt said during Sunday's teleconference. 'Even if they're not being completed, they're loosening up the defense where we've been able to run the ball as well as we have. Being able to go deep has opened some things up for us."
The Bulldogs' recent offensive explosion is evidence of that.
Georgia (8-2, 5-2) enters Saturday's game against Kentucky (12:30) having scored over 40 points in three straight contests for the first time since 1942.
That' a far cry from the team that struggled to even get a first down during last month's 35-14 loss at Tennessee.
"I never would have dreamed it," Richt said. "It's just amazing what's happened."
Stafford admits he feels that he's in a good of a groove since he's been at the Georgia QB.
"I feel like I'm doing a good job of throwing the ball right now," Stafford said. "I've been able to make some plays on the perimeter. There's a whole bunch of confidence going on with everybody right now."
There was once a time not too long ago when Stafford would have never been allowed to try and attack a Cover-2 defense with a deep throw.
That changed against Auburn when Richt suggested to Bobo that he go ahead and have Stafford take a shot downfield to Bailey, who hauled in the 45-yard bomb to set up Knowshon Moreno's 24-yard touchdown run.
"The two long bombs were against defenses more designed to stop the passing game, but either their safety took a poor angle or got lost in coverage," Richt said. (On Bailey's catch), Stafford scrambled a little bit t his right, bought some time and was able to stretch the secondary."
When asked the difference in Stafford this year to last, Richt said the answer is simple.
"I just think its confidence," Richt said. "I don't think he's feeling the pressure that he did last year. He doesn't feel that he's got to try and carry the whole team on his back. He knows he's got other guys who can carry the load."
Sheer repetition makes a difference too.
Richt said Stafford has worked extremely hard in practice to improve in practice and the results of that effort are starting to show.
"If you do anything enough you get better at it. That's just part of it. He understands he doesn't have to just throw it to a spot. He can take time to see where a guy is and place it where his receiver will have
the best opportunity to catch it," Richt said. "Some guys think about throwing it out there and making the receiver go get it. It's not that easy sometimes. If a guy is defending well, you have to decide whether to throw it short, give it more line or more air. Or you have to throw firmer in two-deep coverage. There are a lot of different deep ball throws. The more you do it the better you get."
NOTES: Richt said that safety Quintin Banks (knee), safety Donavon Baldwin (hip flexor) and wide receiver Tony Wilson (shoulder burner) should be ready to play Saturday against Kentucky. ? Richt said the linebacker Marcus Washington didn't start Saturday due to the emergence of Rennie Curran. "Rennie's playing pretty stinking good right now," Richt said. ? Georgia moved up to 8th in this week's Associated Press top 25 poll.... Georgia moved up to 9th in this week's BCS poll.