January 2, 2008

Dawgs' offense balanced

NEW ORLEANS - While defense took center stage in Georgia's Sugar Bowl victory over Hawaii, the Bulldogs' offense enjoyed an efficient outing that contributed to a record scoring performance.

The Bulldogs tallied 41 points against the Warriors, the most in UGA bowl history, thanks in part to a ball-control offense that earned passing grades in red zone execution.

"I thought we did a great job of getting some points on the board, because our defense was playing exceptionally well," said Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. "Us putting some points on the board I think enabled them (the defense) to put their hair back and get after them."

Georgia turned six Hawaii turnovers into 21 points, while Matthew Stafford's interception was the lone Georgia turnover. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, scored four out of six times while inside their opponents' 20-yard line.

Bobo said he was very pleased with Stafford's performance.

"I thought he played great tonight," said Bobo. "I thought he managed the game well, had a couple of good throw-aways, called a timeout in a bad look one time, and then made a couple of good throws on third down."
Stafford himself was quick to recognize the significance of Georgia's indomitable defense.

"They played awesome," said Stafford. "To do what they did to the Hawaii team is unbelievable and I'm just proud of them."

Stafford and his offensive mates made sure that the Bulldogs' outstanding defensive efforts wouldn't go to waste.

Georgia's first touchdown, one of two scored by Knowshon Moreno, came after Bulldogs' defense held Hawaii to a three-and-out on the Warriors' first possession of the game.

Hawaii's first possession of the second period also resulted in a punt, and on the ensuing drive, Georgia made it 17-3, courtesy of Brandon Coutu's 52-yard field goal.

The Bulldogs moved out to a three-touchdown lead at the half after Prince Miller's interception gave Georgia the ball at the Hawaii 42. From there, it took just four plays and 1:25 for the offense to punch it in.

Danelle Ellerbe's interception with just under four minutes left in the third quarter set up a seven-play drive, punctuated by Thomas Brown's one-yard scoring plunge to make it 31-3.

When Hawaii failed to convert on fourth down with under a minute left in the fourth quarter, Georgia scored from its own 45 in seven plays, culminating with Coutu's second field goal of the game, a 45-yarder that made it 41-3.

Stafford completed passes to six different receivers on the evening, going 14-of-23 for 175 yards and a touchdown. Moreno and Brown helped balance the offensive production, combining for 138 of Georgia's 169 yards on the ground.

Brown was quick to share accolades afterward.

"One thing we wanted to try to do was run the ball throughout the game and control the clock just in case the offense got the upper hand," said Brown. "Our defense did a wonderful job of stopping their high-powered offense."

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