August 30, 2008

Missed chances upset Stafford

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is becoming quite the perfectionist.

So although his statistics - 13-of-21 for 275 yards and two touchdowns - seemed impressive by most standards, the junior simply shrugged.

"It was Ok, not great by any means," Stafford said. "I did all right, but I missed some guys today that I shouldn't have."

Stafford appeared to be heading toward his first career 300-plus yard passing game as he went into the halftime having completed 10-of-14 passes for 206 yards, 61 coming on a pass to wideout Kris Durham, who scored for the first time in his career.

The quarterback also gobbled up yardage on throws of 47 yards to Mohamed Massaquoi, 37 to Knowshon Moreno and 36 to A.J. Green, who used his first career catch to set up the first of three touchdowns by running back Knowshon Moreno.

Still, the Stafford was not necessarily pleased. Head coach Mark Richt understood.

"He knew there were a couple of opportunities he could have had. There was a deep ball early he overthrew, a couple of deep balls he probably under-threw," Richt said. "Some of them were completions, but if you hit the guy on the dead run which is perfect, that's what we looking for and that's what he wants.
"Matthew could have had a much bigger day but I think he played well. He handled things beautifully as far as getting us in and out of the right protections or checking into the right runs. He's got total command of what we try to do. He just needs to be a little bit sharper throwing the ball, but it was a high pass-efficiency type day. It just wasn't as big as it could have been."

For example, on the 47-yard completion to Massaquoi, the senior flanker was so wide open that he actually had to stop to haul in the long pass. Although he made the grab, the fact that he was forced to slow down enabled Southern defensive backs to close in and eventually make the play.

"He was so wide open I was just trying to make sure I didn't overthrow him," Stafford said. "But that's not an excuse."

Stafford felt much better about his 36-yard pass to Green, which came during a skinny post route on the game's fourth play.

"They were kind of giving us a Cover-3 look so I knew I just couldn't lay it out there, I had to shoot it in," Stafford said. "A.J. did a good job of going up to get it and made a good catch. He got his touchdown later, which was good."

Backup Joe Cox hit Green with a 4-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.

"He's a big, fast target, but we've got a lot of big guys like him who play well together," Stafford said. "We've got a bunch of guys who can make some plays."
All total, nine different players caught passes from Stafford and Cox, led by Durham who caught three passes for 74 yards.

"Matt's comfortable with all of our receivers," Durham said. "He gets the same reps with everybody, so his timing is down with all the guys."

Aside from his personal effort, Stafford thought the offense played well. Georgia gobbled up 523 yards of total offense (323 through the air, 212 on the ground).

"I thought as a whole we did pretty well. We know we have to play better but we got off to a good start," he said. "We can still take a lot from the first time out. No. 1, we got to play somebody else, we can see who played with effort, who followed their assignments, stuff like that. It was a good learning tool for us."

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