ATHENS, Ga. - A record crowd of 42,458 attended Georgia's G-Day spring football game Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium, and it seemed like there were just as many dropped balls.
The Red team, consisting of offensive starters and defensive backups, defeated the Black 13-3 in an ESPN-televised contest riddled by pass-handling miscues. The lone touchdown occurred on the game's final play, when redshirt freshman tailback Carlton Thomas ran in from 20 yards out.
"It hasn't been a problem with our main guys, but that's definitely a concern," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said when asked about six clear-cut drops. "I think it's a lack of focus and a lack of concentration. We've got to develop consistency at that position, because the depth there concerns me."
Dropped passes marred the first half, affecting both teams. Tight end Aaron White dropped a potential 30-yard gain for the Red team, and receiver Israel Troupe and walk-on receiver Zach Renner botched big pickups for the Black team.
White and Troupe suffered their drops inside the 5-yard line.
"It definitely surprised me," Red team quarterback Joe Cox said. "We haven't had a day like that. They're going to have plenty of opportunities to redeem themselves and plenty of opportunities to get better this summer."
Red team backup quarterback Aaron Murray connected with walk-on receiver Marquise Brown for a 43-yard gain to the Black 20-yard line midway through the third quarter, but Brown fumbled after a strip by outside linebacker Nick Williams. That was the day's longest gain, surpassing a 35-yard connection from Cox to A.J. Green on a flea-flicker that opened the game.
Cox completed 9 of 16 passes for 105 yards.
"I thought Joe did a nice job," Bobo said. "I thought he had control of what we were trying to do. He was accurate like I thought he would be and moved the ball well. It's tough to get in a flow in the spring game because you're rotating quarterbacks and really don't know when you're going in, but I've been pleased with Joe all spring."
Said Cox: "I think I was smart with the ball and knew what was going on during every play. We didn't connect on some passes that would have been big plays, and that happens."
The two teams exchanged field goals in the first half, and Andrew Jensen's 48-yarder with 2:13 remaining gave the Red a 6-3 lead.
Bulldogs defenders were routinely criticized last season after allowing 38 or more points a program-record five times. They were noticeably happier Saturday, with junior linebacker Rennie Curran stating that G-Day was a chance to "show the nation what we're about and give them a glimpse of what we're going to do this season."
Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez wasn't making too much of the outcome, nor the touchdown on the final play.
"We wanted to make sure we got everybody in the game, and we had some guys scrambling when we were trying to line them up," Martinez said. "These guys have been with us since January, and you want to get them on the field, but you get some miscommunication. You're always upset when you give up a touchdown, but we wanted to put everybody in and made sure of that."
Head coach Mark Richt said the team accomplished as much as it could this spring considering the number of absences due to injuries.