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after inconsistency, dogs finding end zone..


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after inconsistency, dogs finding end zone

by carter strickland

the atlanta journal-constitution

published on: 11/15/07 athens mark richt refrained from finger pointing, but he did manage an i told you so.

and nobody could rebut him because the georgia coach was right.

months ago, richt said he believed the offense would improve as the year went on. the young offensive linemen were, well, young, and the quarterback was still finding his way, he said back then.

he was right. the offense was inconsistent through the first seven games, scoring 45 points one week against ole miss and 14 the next against tennessee.

no one looks lost anymore.

"i felt by the second half of the season we would be a whole lot better," richt said. "[at the start of the season] i said, 'i hope we win enough early to still be in it when we did hit our stride.' i think that is what is happening now."

is it ever. forget about the three consecutive games with 40-plus points or the four touchdowns of 50 or more yards or the 23 plays of more than 25 yards, and focus on this: against auburn, in a 12-minute span between the third and fourth quarters, georgia gained 240 yards and scored four touchdowns.

"wow," wide receiver mikey henderson said.

indeed.

"when we get on a streak, we can put some points up in a hurry," quarterback matthew stafford said.

earlier this season, florida coach urban meyer called stafford a streaky passer, one who is hard to stop once he gets rolling. stafford's numbers, to that point, had reflected some of that streakiness. he would get hot against some teams, oklahoma state (75 percent) and western carolina (70 percent), and considerably cool against others, tennessee (48 percent) and vanderbilt (52 percent).

but during the scoring binge, stafford has been a steady 61 percent.

"he is very close [to becoming a consistent passer]," offensive coordinator mike bobo said. "we are still just not consistent some downs. matthew is not consistent in delivering the ball some downs. we are not consistent in running our routes some downs. we're doing ok. we're close."

when georgia is consistent, the scoring binges happen. it's the three-and-outs that have bobo worried. against auburn, georgia had a stretch where it went four series without a first down, lost five yards and threw an interception.

"we are trying to avoid the lulls in the game," stafford said. "but that is the way football is; you are not going to score every time you get the ball."

unless, of course, you are playing notre dame. but since the irish are not on the schedule, georgia has some work to do.

"there are going to be times when we are not going to score touchdowns, but we have got to string some first downs together at least before we punt," bobo said. "we are having too many bad series."

it's obvious the bulldogs are having quite a few good series as well. they have scored on 60 percent of their drives (not including ones ended by the half or the game) in the past two sec games.

"that is the bottom line guys are just making plays," bobo said.

never was that more evident than when sean bailey and stafford hooked up for a touchdown on a third-and-5 at the auburn 13 in saturday's win. bailey was supposed to be a decoy on the play, but auburn blew the coverage. stafford quickly realized the mistake and delivered the ball for the score.

"he knew he had to throw it in there with a little bit of touch," bobo said. "normally, he might try and fire it in there. but he threw it with enough touch in there where sean could go and make the play. that is a sign of maturity."

those are the signs richt has seen as well. and right now, all the signs point toward the offense continuing to grow and the points continuing to pile up.

"it feels so good to see us execute," henderson said. "that is one of the big things, we have playmakers, our line can block, but all of it comes down to executing.

"when we call a play, it works."

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