- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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After watching Zordich -- Buffalo's dual-threat quarterback who made his fifth career start -- find huge running holes too many times in a 45-23 loss on Saturday, the sixth-ranked Bulldogs might have reason to be concerned.
"Am I concerned? Yeah, we'd better play better than that next week or we're going to be riding home sad," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
Zordich finished with 83 rushing yards and a touchdown and was 14-for-24 passing for 148 yards, regularly buying time by rolling out or escaping from the Georgia pass rush to keep plays alive. He led the Bulls on back-to-back scoring drives late in the first half, helping Buffalo cut the Bulldogs' halftime lead to 24-16 when it appeared only minutes earlier that Georgia would carry a commanding lead into the break.
"Early, we didn't know if we were leaving him completely uncontained or whether it was designed or whether we were forcing him out of the pocket," Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson said.
It no doubt stirred memories of other dual-threat quarterbacks creating problems for Georgia's defense under Todd Grantham -- think Mississippi State's Chris Relf in 2010 and Vanderbilt's Jordan Rodgers last season -- but the Bulldogs tightened up on Zordich in the second half.
Buffalo totaled only 23 yards in the third quarter and failed to do anything offensively in the second half until Georgia began subbing in its reserves once the game was in hand.
Zordich scored Buffalo's only points in the second half with a 2-yard run with 4:08 left in the game.
"They saw we were rushing upfield a lot. Anytime we were rushing upfield, he was just stepping up and running," outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "But in the second half we came in and we game-planned and Coach Grantham talked about it and we came back and corrected those things. In the second half, we didn't give up a first down until later in the game when our young guys got in there."
Defending Zordich was good practice for Missouri and Franklin. Franklin ranked 15th nationally in total offense last season, averaging 295.8 yards per game -- an average influenced by his dynamic running ability, as evidenced by his 981 rushing yards.
And everyone knows they must contain the quarterback next week or it could be a long night in Missouri.
"It's a problem. Quarterbacks who can run well, that is a problem," Richt said. "And of course Franklin is outstanding. He had 1,000 yards a year ago rushing, a guy who can also throw the ball extremely well."
The Bulldogs no doubt felt better about their chances against Franklin after the game than they did at halftime, as the second half was not nearly as much of a nightmare. They believe having faced a quarterback with a somewhat similar skill set was good preparation for a player like Franklin with even more explosive playmaking ability.
"I think it was. It definitely showed a lot of issues, as well as things we can get better at," Robinson said.
"We fixed it in the second half. We were able to contain him in there and make him actually have to make the throws and made a lot of incomplete passes. That was huge."