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Dawgs give game away

What is one decisive stat that the loss to LSU last season and the loss to South Carolina on Saturday have in common?

In each game, there were four turnovers by the Bulldogs and none by the opponent. That clearly doesn’t equate to a recipe for success.

“You can’t beat anybody when you lose the turnover margin, four to zero,” said head coach Kirby Smart following the loss. “We talk about it every Monday at our meetings. We start out talking about how many teams have won a game, one over turnover margin, two over the turnover margin, three over the turnover margin, and we were four minus the turnover margin. That’s twofold. We didn’t force any on defense, causing problems for them when it comes to that, and then obviously, we didn’t take care of the ball offensively.”

Smart continued on to say that it wasn’t as if Georgia couldn’t move the ball. In fact, the Bulldogs had 468 yards of total offense, outgaining the Gamecocks by 171 yards.

“When we did get momentum and were moving the ball, we seemed to stub our toe each time with either a turnover, a penalty, or something that kept us from doing it.”

Israel Mukuamu’s hat trick of interceptions for the Gamecocks, paired with the extremely uncharacteristic botched snap by former high school teammates Trey Hill and Jake Fromm was too much for the team to overcome.

It’s not like Fromm was a completely different player. He still set a career-high in completions and attempts. But he also had a career-high in interceptions. Granted, one came from a pass that Tyler Simmons dropped, and the other came when Fromm attempted to throw the ball out of bounds while under duress. The junior quarterback said he couldn’t see much of anything on the pick-six.

“Really big guy in my face. I tried to throw it out of bounds. I knew that George (Pickens) was in the area. I was just trying to get it over his head or put it in a position where he could catch it. I don’t know what happened. I was on the ground after that.”

Junior offensive lineman Ben Cleveland attributes the loss and the turnovers to a lack of execution on the part of the offense.

“I wouldn’t say it just felt like everything was going wrong. There was definitely a level of execution that we didn’t live up to,” Cleveland said. “I don’t think we played our standard of football today, physically or mentally. We just couldn’t execute on the ball as much as we’d hoped for.”

Even with the turnovers, Georgia racked up 30 first downs to South Carolina's 16. The Bulldogs won the time of possession battle by over 12 minutes.

Fifty-one of Georgia’s yards came from Demetris Robertson, who caught the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Robertson felt like the team “didn’t come as ready to play” as the Gamecocks did, but also said that supporters of the program shouldn’t fret following the loss.

"Have faith in us. Still believe in us."
— Demetris Robertson

“Have faith in us. Still believe in us, Robertson said. “No matter the circumstances, we’re gonna keep chopping to try and get it to the next step and the next game.”

Smart shared the message that he gave his team following the defeat.

“Our kids are resilient. Our kids will continue to fight. We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror as coaches, as staff, and do a better job. We’ve got to help our kids out,” said Smart. “I just told everyone in the locker room, you can’t hang your head. They’ve got to go get better. We’ve got to help them get better. The leaders in that room will do that. That’s part of it. When you play in the SEC, guys, every week, you’ve got to be at your best, because every team is 100 percent capable of out-physicaling you and outplaying you. Today, they played better than we did. We didn’t do a good enough job as coaches to help them out.”