Turnovers elude struggling Georgia defense

Turnovers elude struggling Georgia defense

October 13th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

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ATHENS, Ga. - The Georgia Bulldogs entered Saturday at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference with five forced turnovers.

They're still there.

While Georgia's offense lost possession four times in the 41-26 loss to Missouri, the Bulldogs defense couldn't get any of them back. Georgia had gained one turnover in each of its first five games, including Tennessee receiver Pig Howard losing the ball through the end zone last week in overtime.

"We've got to do a better job of getting turnovers," Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "We got four sacks, but we didn't get any turnovers."

Georgia forced 30 turnovers last season and 32 in 2011.

The Bulldogs also tallied four sacks against LSU but got their only turnover in that win on a fumbled punt return by Odell Beckham. Georgia had three sacks against the Volunteers.

"Generally when you're up in sacks you get [turnovers], because the quarterback fumbles more than anybody, but that hasn't been the case," Grantham said. "We've got to do a better job of getting the ball out right there."

Junior defensive end Ray Drew had two of Georgia's sacks against Missouri's Tigers and has five in the past three weeks. He is still awaiting his first forced fumble.

"The only thing you can do is try and get a sack on the next play," Drew said. "I wouldn't say it's been frustrating, but I would say we'd like to see more of them. That just comes with practice."

Georgia's inability to create turnovers continued along with its third-down struggles, as the Bulldogs allowed five conversions in 12 opportunities.

After pulling within 28-26 with 12:15 remaining, the Bulldogs allowed Missouri quarterback James Franklin to complete a third-and-9 pass to L'Damian Washington for 15 yards. Franklin left the game with a separated shoulder moments later, but Georgia allowed backup Maty Mauk to convert a third-and-6 with a 6-yard carry to Georgia's 49-yard line.

Two plays later, the Tigers surprised Georgia when receiver Bud Sasser caught a lateral and threw to Washington for a 40-yard touchdown at the expense of freshman cornerback Shaq Wiggins.

"Throughout the process of playing the game, we knew something was coming," Wiggins said. "I should have just played the ball better, but we were looking for the trick play. They just executed it."

Said Grantham: "We didn't change what we were doing. I felt like we played them the right way today, but we didn't execute when we had to on third down."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.