ATLANTA — Georgia is 0-2 in the SEC for the first time in Mark Richt’s 10 years as coach.
The slow start is reason for concern, but Richt was stressing the positives on Sunday.
Richt says his review of the Bulldogs’ 31-24 loss to then-No. 12 Arkansas on Saturday showed his team is improving.
“We think we’re getting there,” Richt said.
“I had a sense after the game that this team is improving and making strides and after watching the film we’re definitely moving in the right direction, which is a good thing.”
Georgia is 1-2 overall and has lost its first two Southeastern Conference games for the first time since 1993. Richt said the record is disappointing.
“Well, it’s always discouraging to lose any game,” he said. “We’re not happy about the win-loss record right now, but when you do the job that we do and you coach and you teach ... and you watch the film and you see guys improve, that’s the encouraging thing and that’s what I’m talking about.”
Richt said even the team’s most experienced players on defense are in their first season in the new 3-4 scheme.
“They’re all kind of young in the system,” Richt said.
“That’s one reason I’m really confident that we’re going to improve as we grow and we are improving. I feel confident about that part of it.”
There also is youth on offense.
Freshman quarterback Aaron Murray passed for 253 yards against Arkansas, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King with 7:52 remaining. Murray also ran for a touchdown.
“He’s got so many positive attributes that are even coming more into light for us as a staff,” Richt said. “As he continues to experience these things, he’s only going to get better.”
Murray was sacked six times and had a bandage on his chin after the game.
Richt said he was reluctant to place blame for the sacks because he didn’t want to “throw out anything that would sound like dirty laundry.”
“I care very much about their mental well-being through it all,” Richt said, adding the sacks were “definitely a combination” of pass-protection problems “and some quarterback issues, too.”
Richt said Murray was most effective when stepping up in the pocket but at times held the ball too long.
“He did make a lot of very positive plays moving up in the pocket, either throwing or running, but you can’t ask the guys to block too long,” Richt said, adding Murray doesn’t have the time to move up and then back in the pocket.
“You can forget that,” Richt said. “You’ve got to learn that and he’s learning that.”
Georgia visits Mississippi State on Saturday in Starkeville, Miss.