The Georgia Bulldogs have conceived a dangerous and unlikely blueprint for success, one they hope is very temporary.
Georgia is the only Football Bowl Subdivision program to commit three turnovers in each of its four games, yet the Bulldogs are 3-1 and ranked No. 18. Should the Bulldogs cough it up three more times Saturday at Sanford Stadium, they will have to overcome No. 4 LSU.
"I don't see how we're still winning," receiver A.J. Green said. "We've got a big game coming up and will have to cut down on turnovers. I don't know why this keeps happening, but we'll keep working on it."
The Bulldogs have turned it over 12 times this season while getting only three takeaways, a minus-2.25 ratio per game that ranks 115th out of 120 teams. The other nine teams among the bottom 10 of the turnover-ratio category are a combined 5-27.
So Georgia is bucking the timeworn adage that the team that turns the ball over more usually loses.
"I can't tell you how many drills we do, and how much we work on it, and how much we emphasize it," coach Mark Richt said. "There is nothing different we're doing this year than from years in the past. I don't know the answer."
Georgia could not overcome a Carlton Thomas fumble, a Joe Cox interception and a Cox fumble in its 24-10 opening loss at Oklahoma State, as those turnovers led to 10 Cowboys points. The Bulldogs outlasted South Carolina, 41-37, the following week despite a Green fumble, a Branden Smith fumble on a kickoff return and a Cox interception that resulted in 17 Gamecocks points.
In the 52-41 win at Arkansas two Saturdays ago, the Bulldogs had two fumbles (one on special teams and one by Richard Samuel) and an interception, leading to 10 points for the Razorbacks. Georgia did not turn the ball over during the second half in Fayetteville or the first half of last Saturday's 20-17 win over Arizona State, proving the Bulldogs can go four error-free quarters.
The mistakes returned in the second half, however, as Caleb King fumbled and Cox threw two interceptions, which led to 14 ASU points.
"You can't live on the edge with three turnovers a game," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "It's disappointing to stress taking care of the ball, come out and do a good job protecting the ball in the first half, and then turn it over three times in the second half to let them back in the game. I know it was raining, but that's no excuse for putting it on the ground and throwing it to them."
In the eight turnover-free quarters the Bulldogs have played this season, they are outscoring foes 73-41. In its eight turnover-plagued quarters, Georgia has been outscored 78-50.
"Fortunately we've had guys step up when they've needed to," Cox said. "If you turn the ball over and the defense stops them and you block a field goal, it kind of cancels it out in a way. We definitely want to cut them out. It's time to. We won't be able to last in this conference if we keep having these things occur."
Odds and ends
Georgia is the only SEC team LSU hasn't defeated under coach Les Miles. ... Green, who set an SEC single-game high this season with eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown last Saturday, was named Monday as the league's offensive player of the week. ... Sophomore Justin Houston was the SEC defensive lineman of the week after tallying four tackles and a sack. ... LSU was 0-5 last season on CBS. ... Kickoff time for the Oct. 10 game at Tennessee will not be known until Sunday, but it will either be around noon or at 3:30.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...