ATHENS — Georgia’s offensive numbers don’t add up.
The Bulldogs dominated in yards but settled for modest margins on the scoreboard in wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt the last two weeks.
The No. 9 Bulldogs know they can’t waste scoring chances when they play at No. 11 LSU on Saturday.
"They’re a really good team and we know we’ve got to play a really good game for us, sound football, not turn the ball over, things like that that will help you win," quarterback Matthew Stafford said.
Georgia leads the Southeastern Conference with 429.6 yards per game, but lately the big yards haven’t led to big points totals.
The Bulldogs had 29 first downs against Tennessee. The Vols had 10. Georgia racked up 458 yards in that game and gave up 1 yard rushing. Yet the final score was 26-14.
The stats and points also didn’t match in last week’s 24-14 win over Vanderbilt, when Georgia had a 425-245 advantage in yards but couldn’t put the game away until the final minutes.
Georgia (6-1) is tied with Florida for the SEC Eastern Division lead at 3-1, but it hasn’t been scoring style points with poll voters.
"I’m not worried about it," coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. "I’m really not worried about it. Winning to me is pretty stylish, so if we keep winning I’ll be happy, I can promise you."
Georgia has been held under 30 points since opening its season with lopsided wins against Georgia Southern and Central Michigan. Even a 27-10 victory at Arizona State seems less impressive now that the Sun Devils have lost four straight.
Stafford said Georgia remains capable of matching its production in the second half of its 11-2 2007 season, when it scored more than 40 points four times during a seven-game winning streak.
"I think we can. I think we’ve been knocking on the door the last couple of weeks," Stafford said. "Just a little bit of a lack of execution in some areas and if we get those things ironed out we’re putting up a lot more points."
There is no shortage of talent.
Stafford set a career high with 310 yards passing against Tennessee and threw for two touchdowns against Vanderbilt. The junior leads the league in total offense.
Knowshon Moreno had 175 yards rushing and a touchdown against Vanderbilt. He already has 762 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns as he tries to join Herschel Walker as the only Georgia players to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
A.J. Green, a 6-foot-4 freshman, leads the SEC with 573 yards receiving. He’s had at least six catches in four straight games.
There’s good depth at the skill positions with freshman tailback Caleb King and senior receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
So where are the points?
"It’s tougher than the average fan would think, I guess," Stafford said. "Really, we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot, not executing inside the red zone. That has really been hurting us. I think the positive for us is we’re still putting up 24 points and things like that where if we iron everything out we’re scoring 45. One of these games hopefully it will click and a big number will go up."
Georgia has been slowed by penalties as it tries to break in an offensive line which has a startling lack of experience.
The Bulldogs lead the SEC with 69 penalties. They cut back on that problem by committingnly five penalties for 47 yards against Vanderbilt, but included in that total were two pass interference calls that led to a touchdown for the Commodores.
Georgia lists three freshmen and two sophomores on its first offensive line. The Bulldogs have lost two starting left tackles, Trinton Sturdivant and Vince Vance, to season-ending knee injuries.
"You look back at ‘07, it started getting better every game and getting better and better and finally at the end of the season we were playing really great," fullback Brannan Southerland said. "I think that’s the same direction this offense is taking. We’re playing really good football right now. There’s still some room to improve and I think this offense, just like last year, can do some really great things."