Much has been made of the fact that Georgia's defense has given up touchdowns on the opponent's first drive now for three games in a row.
While that obviously doesn't sit well with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, it's how his troops have finished recent weeks that leave a lot to be desired.
"I honestly think and what I talk to our team about is start and finish," Grantham said. "The bottom line is, against South Carolina the score was 14-6 and it's late in the fourth quarter and we can't stop them to get the ball back. Against Arkansas, the score is 24-24 and we've had some stops, we do stop them but then we've got to go back out again for a two-minute drive and we don't stop them then."
Georgia's late-game issues continued last week at Mississippi State.
MSU held a scant 10-6 lead late in the fourth until the host Bulldogs scored 14 points over 1:07 before winning by a 24-12 count.
"There's no such thing as a perfect game. There's going to be mistakes during the game, but the biggest emphasis for me and the team is start fast and finish," Grantham said. "Because for me, I mean, there's going to be things during the game that you're going to correct every Monday and that's going to happen but you've got to play the situation at hand. You've got to play the situation that just happened, but truthfully, we've got to finish. That's what we've got to work on.
"We're going to be in all sorts of games, and whatever happens or has happened up to that point doesn't matter, you've got to finish that game. That's the thing in the last three games, we haven't finished."
No, the Georgia D hasn't started well either.
In the game against South Carolina, the Gamecocks chewed up 8:02 off the clock to start the game, culminating in a 2-yard run by Marcus Lattimore to grab a 7-0 lead.
Arkansas and Mississippi State didn't take quite so long.
The Razorbacks struck first on a 57-yard pass from Ryan Mallett to Chris Gragg while MSU scored a touchdown on its first possession, a 13-yard pass from Chris Relf to Vick Ballard.
Both drives took under three minutes to complete.
Grantham said the slow starts can partly be attributed to his players simply not quite recognizing what's happening on the other side of the ball.
"I think it's important that you understand concepts, you understand what's happening to you based on the formations that are out there, and take care of your job," he said. "It's OK to be excited for a game but you also have to focus in on your assignment, your job and you can't let the emotions of the game affect your key and diagnose. I think that's critical.
"Plus, as younger players gain experience, and younger players play more, then some of that goes away a little bit, so as we move forward I expect that to stop."
But even if the opposing offense shows a set or formation that's different from what's seen in scout team drills, Grantham said basic formulas of defense should still apply.
If not, then opposing offenses will continue to hit big plays.
"I think it's a combination of that (being too excited) and a combination of everybody's going to have plays they're going to run on you," Grantham said. "Sometimes, if maybe it's a new play or something different and is not exactly the way you practiced it, you've still go to apply your concepts to get through the down. If you do that, you're fine, but if not you can give up an explosive play and that's been happening."
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