ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia is ranked No. 11 nationally and has sunk its canines deep into the necks of Utah State and South Carolina. But listen to certain folks, and there is genuine cause for concern.
"It's kind of a mixed bag here," Bulldogs coach Jim Donnan said Tuesday. "After the first game, everybody's worried about our defense -- Why can't we be more dominant? And then after the second game, they're wondering about our offense."
Chalk it up to the price of success at Georgia, and the thirst for a whole lot more. As the Bulldogs continue their climb up the college football mountain, the clamor for perfection -- and the furor over imperfection -- has intensified.
The most recent source of concern? Dropped passes, 12 by some estimates, in the Bulldogs' 24-9 win over the Gamecocks in their last game. No need to panic and switch to the wishbone, Donnan said, but the mistakes need to be corrected.
"I was disappointed that we didn't catch the ball better," said Donnan, whose Bulldogs play host to Central Florida on Saturday at 1 p.m. "Knowing what we have to do to win in this league, it's pretty obvious that you're going to have to be able to throw and catch the ball and run the ball against these teams that we've got to beat."
Though they weren't excusable, the dropped passes were somewhat explainable. Four of them came from former Washington County star Terrence Edwards, a freshman who was playing in his second collegiate game. Given the absence of injured Michael Greer, who sat out with a hamstring injury, junior Thad Parker was the only receiver on the field with any game experience from 1998.
"We've had some bad luck as far as dropping balls, but those things are going to happen," said quarterback Quincy Carter, who was effective despite the drops, completing 21 of 38 passes for 251 yards and a score. "We've got to remember our receivers are young."
Despite its receiving glitches, Georgia isn't exactly wheezing offensively. The Bulldogs have averaged more than 500 yards per game, and running back Jasper Sanks amassed 130 yards rushing in the win over South Carolina.
Maybe the Bulldogs can put any offensive questions to rest against the Golden Knights, who have surrendered 451 yards and 48 points per game.
Granted, UCF isn't exactly taking on Cream Puff U. every week -- it has lost to nationally-ranked Purdue, Florida and Georgia Tech so far -- but the potential for points is there.
"It's been a good schedule for the athletic department down there, I'm sure, but I don't know about the head coach," Donnan said of Golden Knights coach Mike Kruczek. "That's very difficult scheduling, I think."
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A spinal cord injury has ended the career of junior receiver Chad Talton, Donnan said.
Talton, who also played special teams, fell during practice last week and suffered ruptured discs.
"He might could play, but it's too much of a risk," Donnan said. "So we're going to have to medically disqualify him."
Talton, a 6-foot-3, 212-pounder from Dallas, Ga., was part of Donnan's first recruiting class at Georgia. He was redshirted in 1996 and had played backup since.
"I hate that for Chad, because he's gotten to the point where he could really help our team," Donnan said. "He hasn't really caught a pass this year, but he has done a good job for us."
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