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Saturday July 4th, 2015 11:23AM

Opinion: Injuries hurt, but other issues just as critical in Dogs' skid

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Put the emotions aside. Saturday's come-from-ahead defeat at Vanderbilt is not the worst loss in Georgia football history.

Make no mistake, however, it sure felt like it on Saturday afternoon.

And the reason why, has little to do with Georgia's continued special teams horrors, defensive letdowns at key moments or pathetic rules and officiating -- well OK, certainly those downers all played a role.

But Saturday's pain mostly emanated from the fact that the lowest of lows followed some of the highest of highs just weeks ago.

Was it weeks ago? Those electric victories over South Carolina and LSU seem like distant memories now, the Bulldogs hardly resembling the same team that pulled off two top 10 victories.

And of course, it's not the same team -- those unfortunate injuries to a number of key players effectively neutering a once-potent offense. But the simple fact is that every team faces injury, and the better teams find ways to overcome them.

Just ask the Dogs' last two opponents. Missouri lost its starting quarterback with last week's game in Athens still in the balance and not only found a way to win last week but continued with a convincing win this week over a stout Florida defense. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, lost its starting quarterback in the first half of today's contest -- one of two recognized playmakers -- as well as a number of defensive and offensive linemen. The Bulldogs even showed that ability three weeks ago in Tennessee, holding off the Volunteers after losing three starters in one game.

Certainly, no team has been struck like Georgia -- which continued to lose players on Saturday, as Josh Harvey-Clemons left the contest and Chris Conley went down on the game's final play -- but you won't hear coach Mark Richt making excuses like that. And he should not be. It's simply the nature of football. You deal with it and do the best to overcome it.

To do that and succeed, however, you have to do all the little things that much better.

You cannot fumble the ball away; you must catch punts; you must catch punt snaps; you must make tackles; you must block until the whistle blows.

Georgia is not doing these things right now, and, therefore, the Bulldogs are in a two-game skid.

With a bye week to come and then an equally-distraught Florida on the horizon, certainly Georgia has a chance to bounce back emotionally. But to do so, it must find a way to correct its glaring mistakes and spend every waking moment either practicing or thinking about improvement.

Dwell on these losses -- both on the field and in the line-up -- and what was once a potentially historic season has a very real chance to end up historic in the complete opposite manner.
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