Georgia Drops Season Opener to Clemson, 38-35
Nov. 19, 2012
Game 1: Georgia (0-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Clemson (0-0, 0-0 ACC)
Raise The Curtain On 2013
Georgia raises the curtain on another season, the 120th in Bulldog history, on Saturday. Georgia's all-time record in season openers is 90-26-3. The Bulldogs have won 14 of their past 16 season openers including 10-2 under coach Mark Richt. Georgia is 1-2 when starting on the road with both losses coming to top-10 ranked opponents. The season-opening defeats came to ninth-ranked Oklahoma State in Stillwater in 2009 and to fifth-ranked Boise State at the 2010 Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in Atlanta.
Saturday marks the 63rd meeting (41-17-4) with Clemson, including a 2-0 mark under Richt. ESPN GameDay will be present for the Bulldogs' opener in Clemson.
Season Openers In The Richt Era
The Bulldogs are 10-2 in season openers under Mark Richt:
2012: #6 Georgia 45, Buffalo 23 (Athens)
Historic Top-10 Showdown
The Bulldogs debut at #5 in the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches preseason top 25 polls while their season-opening opponent Clemson checks in at #8 in both polls. This will mark the first time in history that both Georgia and its first opponent will be ranked in the top 10. The previous best showdown for a Bulldog opener came in 1982 when #6 Georgia beat #11 Clemson 13-7 in Athens.
The only time in school history that Georgia has opened its season versus two consecutive top-20 opponents was in 2011 (#5 Boise State, #12 South Carolina). The Bulldogs will face two top-10 teams in consecutive weeks to start this season after traveling to face the Tigers and playing host to #6 South Carolina on Sept. 7.
The Southeastern Conference has six teams in the preseason AP poll. Alabama is #1 followed by Georgia (#5), South Carolina (#6), Texas A&M (#7), Florida (#10) and LSU (#12). The SEC has won seven consecutive BCS titles. Non-Conference Success
Under the direction of Mark Richt, Georgia owns a 49-8 record against teams from outside the Southeastern Conference, including 34-1 at home. Last year, the Bulldogs went a perfect 5-0 as they beat Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Ga. Southern, Ga. Tech and #23 Nebraska.
In 2013, Georgia's non-conference foes are #8 Clemson in the season opener on the road along with home games with North Texas and Appalachian State and the regular season finale at Ga. Tech.
Georgia last opened a season at Clemson in 2003, a 30-0 Bulldog shutout. The Bulldogs have won the past five meetings with Clemson. It will be the first-ever meetings with North Texas and Appalachian State.
2003 Flashback: Georgia's Last Trip To Clemson
In 2003, the #11 Bulldogs opened with an early 7-0 lead over the Tigers in Clemson, S.C., and never looked back on the way to a 30-0 shutout. Receiver Fred Gibson snagged four passes for 104 yards and the opening touchdown. Following Gibson's touchdown, place kicker Billy Bennett drilled three consecutive field goals, including a third one that measured 42 yards. Totaling 411 total yards on offense, Georgia also had a pair of quarterback scoring runs. David Greene put Georgia up 23-0 in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run. D.J. Shockley wrapped up the Bulldogs' scoring with a 29-yard touchdown run with less then 3:00 remaining.
ON DECK: vs. #6 South Carolina
Since 1992, Georgia has opened its SEC schedule up against South Carolina in every season but one. Last year, the Bulldogs traveled to Columbia, Mo., rather than Columbia, S.C., to start their league play. Georgia topped Missouri 41-20 in the Tigers' first SEC game in the school's history.
This season, the Bulldogs again play their first SEC game versus South Carolina and the matchup will be held in Georgia's Sanford Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 7.
Bulldog Captains Versus The Tigers
2013 Bulldog Storylines
In 2012, Georgia became only the third team in school history to have 12 wins in a season thanks in large part to its explosive offense. The Bulldogs tallied a school record 529 points including scoring more than 40 points in eight games last season. This averaged out to 37.8 points a game, also a school record. Good news for Georgia in 2013 is that the team lost only one starter on offense (SE Tavarres King) and returns preseason All-American TB Todd Gurley and preseason Coaches All-SEC First Team QB Aaron Murray. Murray Enters Final Season
Record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray opted to return for his final year and not enter the NFL Draft as a fourth-year junior. As the SEC's most seasoned signal-caller, he has started every game the past three seasons, a total of 41 contests. His 41 starts leads the nation for active players. Murray has led the Bulldogs to a pair of SEC Eastern Division titles. He is also the NCAA active leader with 95 career touchdown passes and ranks fourth in passing efficiency at 158.55.
Active Career Start Lists
41 Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Talented Tailback Tandem
The Bulldogs feature a potent sophomore duo at tailback in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The pair, who are roommates, combined for 2,144 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2012 as true freshmen. Gurley posted the second best output by a freshman tailback in school history (trailing only Herschel Walker). Gurley accounted for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns. Marshall finished with 759 yards and eight touchdowns.
Gurley has been named a preseason First Team All-American by several media outlets, including Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News.
And Then There Were Two
Georgia returns just two starters from the 2012 defense: junior CB Damian Swann and senior DE Garrison Smith. Swann led the Bulldogs with a team-high four interceptions and tallied 53 tackles and two sacks. Smith led all lineman with 57 stops. The duo played in all 14 games last year.
However, there are four Georgia defenders who started games in 2012, including junior ILB Amarlo Herrera and sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins who combined for 15 starts. In addition, sophomore CB Sheldon Dawson, sophomore OLB Josh Dawson, junior DE Ray Drew, junior SS Connor Norman, junior N Mike Thornton, senior OLB Chase Vasser and sophomore OLB James DeLoach were all regular contributors for the Bulldog defense and return on this year's unit.
New Faces Abound
As part of its large signing class, the Bulldogs had a school-record 13 members enroll in January including a pair of JUCO defensive lineman in Toby Johnson and Chris Mayes. Georgia lost nine starters on defense but just one on offense. The bulk of the signing class should provide immediate depth and compete for playing time in 2013.
Georgia Among Best in the SEC Under Richt
Bulldog Assistant Coaches
Todd Grantham, 4th season - Assoc. Head Coach/Defensive Coord./OLB *Mike Bobo, 13th season - Offensive Coord./Quarterbacks *Tony Ball, 8th season - Wide Receivers Will Friend, 3rd season - Offensive Line *Scott Lakatos, 4th season - Secondary John Lilly, 6th season - Tight Ends Bryan McClendon, 5th season - Running Backs *Kirk Olivadotti, 3rd - Inside Linebackers Chris Wilson, 1st year - Def. Line Joe Tereshinski, 32nd season - Dir. Strength & Conditioning Support Staff/Grad. Assistant Coaches: Doug Saylor, Dan Inman, Mike Macdonald, Christian Robinson, Buddy Collins III, Tyler Maloof * - in press box on game day, rest on field
Coaching Duties for Special Teams
Murray Operates With Surgical Precision
Senior QB Aaron Murray returns as one of the nation's elite at his position. In 2012, Murray ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency at 174.82. The SEC record is 182.1 set by Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton in 2010. In 2011, Murray graduated with a degree in Psychology after posting a GPA of 3.4. He is now taking undergraduate classes towards another degree.
In his 28 wins as a starter, Murray has 74 TDs to just 16 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (10,301), completions (696), TD responsibility (105), TD passes (95) and passing yards (10,091).
Here are some of Murray's highlights from 2012:
Gurley & Marshall Ignite Rushing Attack
Since the legendary #34 Herschel Walker lined up in the Bulldog backfield, every tailback since then has been compared to the Heisman Trophy winner who led the Bulldogs to the 1980 national championship. In 2012, true freshmen roommates and North Carolina natives Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall became Georgia's weapons in the backfield.
Gurley became the 12th Bulldog to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since Knowshon Moreno in 2008 after going for 68 yards and a touchdown versus Georgia Southern on Nov. 17 in the 11th game of the year. When Moreno did it, he was a redshirt sophomore. He gained 1,400 yards with 16 touchdowns in 13 games. Only Gurley and Walker have tallied 1,000-yard seasons in their true freshman seasons.
Gurley finished second in the SEC in Rushing Yards Per Game (98.9), third in Scoring (108 pts.) and third in All-Purpose Yards Per Game (124.6).
In the SEC Championship Game against No. 2 Alabama, Gurley rushed for 122 yards on 23 carries with two TDs. Alabama faced six 1,000 yard rushers in the 2012 season, and Gurley was the only one to go over 100 yards. Three of those six players were held to a season-low rushing total. Also, the Crimson Tide allowed only 10 rushing TDs all year. Gurley set the Bulldog freshman record for rushing TDs in a season with 17.
Gurley and Marshall combined for 12 runs of 25 or more yards during last season, including eight that went for touchdowns.
2012 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
Big Guys Up Front
Georgia's starting offensive line was the same for the first nine games of 2012 and then returned to the same alignment in the final three games. All five linemen featured in 2012 are back in senior Kenarious Gates at LT, senior Chris Burnette at RG, senior Dallas Lee at LG, junior David Andrews at C and sophomore John Theus at RT. Theus became the first true freshman starter at OT since Trinton Sturdivant in 2007. Junior Mark Beard also returns after starting two games at tackle last season. The Bulldogs will add more depth in 2013 with redshirt sophomore tackle Xzavier Ward healthy and Greg Pyke figuring into the mix after redshirting his freshman season.
Junior Kolton Houston is also expected to earn playing time after he was ruled eligible after a three-year battle with the NCAA (For more on Houston, check out the story at http://gado.gs/1xu). Hunter Long, Watts Dantzler and Zach DeBell will add additional depth.
One of the keys to Aaron Murray's success has been his passing efficiency, and his ability to spread the ball around. In 2012, four different receivers had 100-yard games and 11 Bulldogs combined for 36 touchdown receptions from him. Georgia lost two of its receivers during the year due to ACL injuries in then senior Marlon Brown and then sophomore Michael Bennett. Bennett has recovered from his injury and is slated to start at SE. The Bulldog leaders last season were Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell and Chris Conley were very productive the final five games. In that stretch, Mitchell had 14 catches for 214 yards and two scores while Conley had 13 for 258 and five TDs. Seniors Rhett McGowan and Rantavious Wooten and sophomore Justin Scott-Wesley combined for 33 catches, 472 yards and four scores.
Also, Georgia welcomes back in 2013 senior tight end Arthur Lynch and sophomore Jay Rome. They combined for 35 catches for 583 yards and five TDs. True freshman Jordan Davis also got reps at TE while Rome recovered from a preseason ankle injury. One of Murray's new targets is junior SE Jonathon Rumph, who finished with 98 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the annual G-Day scrimmage. Like Jordan Davis, receiver Reggie Davis also drew the attention of coaches with his play during the preseason and will be vying for playing time as well.
Lynch A Preseason Pick
Senior TE Arthur Lynch has been named a preseason First Team All-SEC selection by the league coaches and media while also garnering Second Team All-America honors by SI.com, among others. Lynch completed his junior season by hauling in a combined six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown versus #2 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and #23 Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. The 6-5, 254-pound native of Dartmouth, Mass., redshirted his 2010 season while the Bulldogs had a host of tight ends who ended up in NFL camps, including current Cincinnati Bengal Orson Charles.
Mason Waiting In The Wings
Redshirt junior Hutson Mason will lead a group of quarterbacks vying for playing time behind senior Aaron Murray. Mason is listed as the No. 2 on the depth chart after redshirting in 2012 to create a year of separation between the entrenched starter. Mason played in four games at quarterback in 2011, going 18-of-30 for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, he has appeared in eight games in his career. The other two Bulldog quarterbacks (Christian LeMay and Parker Welch) to see action in 2012 were a combined 4-for-9 for 82 yards with one TD.
The hallmark for Georgia's defense in 2012 was its ability to make key second half adjustments. For example, opponents averaged just 7.7 points in the final two quarters (107 points), and one touchdown came on an interception return. For example, in the win over #3 Florida, the Gators were held to a field goal. In fact in the 17-9 win, the Gators' points came from three field goals, which marked the first time since 1988 that Florida failed to score a touchdown against the Bulldogs.
The 2013 defense features nine new regulars. The returning starters are junior CB Damian Swann and senior DE Garrison Smith. Junior ILB Amarlo Herrera and sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins combined for 15 starts last season. Additionally, sophomore CB Sheldon Dawson, sophomore OLB Josh Dawson, junior DE Ray Drew, junior SS Connor Norman, junior N Mike Thornton, senior OLB Chase Vasser and sophomore OLB James DeLoach all earned significant playing time during the 2012 campaign.
Mixture Of New & Old Faces In The LB Corps
Georgia must replace a pair of NFL First Round picks in two-time consensus All-American Jarvis Jones and All-SEC Alec Ogletree. However, the Bulldogs have a couple of returners in ILB Amarlo Herrera and OLB Jordan Jenkins. Herrera and Jenkins appeared in all 14 games and combined for 15 starts. Herrera is the top returning tackler with 70, which ranked fifth overall in 2012. Jenkins added 31 stops with the team's second-most sacks behind Jones with 5.0. Also at LB, junior ILB Ramik Wilson, who played in 10 games, and sophomore OLB James DeLoach, who saw time in 13 contests, are also penciled in as Georgia starters. Additionally, sophomore Josh Dawson played in 13 games in 2012 and will be aiming for a bigger role. Early enrollee Reggie Carter and signees Leonard Floyd and Tim Kimbrough also give the Bulldogs depth at linebacker.
Swann Lone Returning Starter In The Secondary
Junior Damian Swann is the only starter back from the 2012 secondary. He led the Bulldogs with four interception and had 53 tackles including two sacks. He capped his sophomore year by tying a Bulldog bowl record with two interceptions in the win over #23 Nebraska.
A pair of reserve safeties return for the Bulldogs in senior Connor Norman and junior Corey Moore. Norman started two games and played in all 14 contests. He finished with 18 tackles. Moore played in 14 games with one start to go with 14 tackles. However, Moore was sidelined with a knee injury for a portion of the preseason. Also, defensive back Sheldon Dawson appeared in 13 games and had 12 tackles. Georgia's 2013 signing class featured eight defensive backs/safeties including three who enrolled early in Tray Matthews, Quincy Mauger and Reggie Wilkerson. Matthews, a native of Newnan, Ga., enrolled in January 2013 and is a candidate to start at the other safety spot after spring drills. Mauger is also expected to play early while Wilkerson tore his ACL during summer workouts and is out for the season.
The First Line Of Defense
Georgia will have to rebuild its interior line after a trio of veterans have moved on to give the NFL a shot in Abry Jones, John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. However, the leading tackler from this unit is back in senior Garrison Smith. Smith, a 6-3, 299-pound native of Atlanta, started eight games and registered 57 tackles. The aforementioned trio accounted for 107 tackles last season.
Junior Ray Drew is one of the top options for increased playing time here. He collected 23 tackles in 13 games. The Bulldogs welcomed a pair from the junior college ranks that enrolled this January and went through spring drills. They are Chris Mayes, a 6-4, 321-pound native of Griffin via Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and Johnathan Atkins, a 6-4, 322-pound native of Thomson, Ga., via Hargrave Military Academy.
Junior Mike Thornton, who was playing behind Jenkins and Geathers, will get his chance to start for the Bulldogs at N after playing in all 14 games last year. The other DE spot is expected to be filled by a healthy Sterling Bailey. Bailey was limited to three games in his redshirt freshman season because of injuries. Redshirt freshman John Taylor (6-4, 335) adds more depth to the N position.
The defensive line will be led by coach Chris Wilson, who joined the Bulldogs in January from Mississippi State.
SPECIAL TEAMS AT A GLANCE
Specialists Gain Experience
Morgan tallied 87 points on the year. He hit 8-of-14 field goals (hitting two from 50+) and connected on a school record 63-of-67 extra points.
Barber lifted a 57-yard punt on his first try against Buffalo and averaged 41.5 yards in 2012 with a career-long punt of 60 yards versus Ole Miss.
The 2012 season marked the first since 1985 that Georgia opened with a punter and placekicker without any collegiate experience. That year, punter Cris Carpenter and placekicker Steve Crumley were redshirt freshman.
Redshirt sophomore Nathan Theus will take over the role as Georgia's snapper after Ty Frix was the Bulldogs' starting snapper for the last four years. Theus, who played special teams last season, is the older brother of Georgia starting tackle John Theus.
The Return Men
Georgia featured a couple of newcomers who returned punts and kickoffs in 2012. They are back again in 2013. The main kickoff returner was Malcolm Mitchell (16 for 360, 22.5 avg.).
Todd Gurley had seven returns as a true freshman, including a 100 yarder to tie the NCAA record versus Buffalo. Mitchell and Rhett McGowan split time as the punt returners. McGowan averaged 8.3 on nine returns while Mitchell had 11 returns for 57 yards (5.2 avg.) Junior FLK Chris Conley also made an impact play on special teams in 2012. Conley blocked a Buffalo punt in the season opener.
Did You Know?
Georgia has blocked 21 punts, 13 field goals and four PATs in the Mark Richt era. The Bulldogs have converted them into 137 points. Georgia has scored 17 special teams touchdowns and four safeties in the Richt era.
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