Murray Breaks Records in Leading Bulldogs Past North Texas
Sept. 21, 2013
Game 2: Georgia (1-1, 1-0 SEC) vs. North Texas (2-1, 0-0 C-USA)
Bulldogs Return To Action Versus North Texas
After an open date, Georgia now returns to action Saturday by playing host to North Texas. It will be the first ever meeting between the two schools on the gridiron. For the first time in school history, Georgia opened up the season against a pair of top-10 opponents. The Bulldogs fell to #8 Clemson 38-35 and then defeated #6 South Carolina 41-30. It was the first time since 1998 since Georgia faced top-10 opponents back-to-back. Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau, the Bulldogs were only one of four teams in the last 20 years who have opened the season with two top-10 teams and the only one to win at least one of the two games.
About The Mean Green
North Texas has eight returning starters on offense and eight on defense. The Mean Green went 4-8 last year and are coached by Dan McCarney. He is in his third season at North Texas after a stop in Florida (assist. head coach/def. line coach) from 2008-10. The Mean Green is 3-33 all-time versus the SEC. The last time they faced a team from the conference came in 2012 when they opened at top-ranked LSU and fell 41-14. North Texas is 2-1 on the year. The Mean Green opened the season with a 40-6 victory over Idaho before falling 27-21 on the road to Ohio. Most recently, North Texas topped Ball State 34-27 in Denton, Texas, over the weekend.
Two Games, Two SEC Offensive Players Of The Week
Coming into the 2013 season, one of Georgia's strengths was thought to be its offense. The Bulldogs have played two games and have had a pair of SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Against #8 Clemson, sophomore TB Todd Gurley received the award. Gurley took his first rushing attempt against the Tigers a career-long 75 yards for a touchdown. The CFPA National Running Back of the Week managed to post a career-high 154 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.
Senior QB Aaron Murray earned the SEC accolade after the Bulldogs topped #6 South Carolina. Murray, who was later named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week and the Maxwell Award Player of the Week, shredded the Gamecocks on 17-of-23 passing (74 percent) for 309 yards and four touchdowns. He finished with a 244.2 pass efficiency mark. This was the ninth time in his career that Murray has had at least four passing touchdowns in a game. Murray moved to No. 2 on the school's all-time list for total offense with 10,907 yards in his career.
Georgia began 2013 by posting 35 points against #8 Clemson and 41 versus #6 South Carolina. The Bulldogs rolled up 545 yards on 70 plays, including 222 on the ground, against the Tigers. In the matchup with the Gamecocks, Georgia gained 536 yards on 76 plays with 227 rushing. Last year, Georgia tallied a school record 529 points including scoring more than 40 points in eight games. Gurley led the rushing attack against Clemson and South Carolina, but was also aided from key blocking and extra yardage by sophomore FB Quayvon Hicks. Hicks has accounted for 66 yards rushing and a touchdown as well as 61 yards receiving through two games in his first year as the starter.
The Bulldogs have played 13 true freshman this season. Three of those have started (FS Tray Matthews, CB Brendan Langley, OLB Leonard Floyd). In fact, 10 of the 13 play defense. This is tied for fourth nationally with Tennessee while Texas A&M (17), UCLA (15) and LSU (14) are the top three in the category. A pair of true freshmen tailbacks are expected to have an extended role against North Texas. J.J. Green has played in both games and has two carries for seven yards. Brendan Douglas got his first action versus #6 South Carolina and ran five times for 31 yards, including a 17 yarder which helped ice the win for Georgia.
Under the direction of Mark Richt, Georgia owns a 49-9 record against teams from outside the Southeastern Conference, including 34-1 at home.
Georgia's rebuilt defense, which lost two NFL First Round linebackers (Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree), debuted at #8 Clemson versus the Tigers' fast-paced offense. Clemson recorded 38 points on 76 plays. The Bulldog defense featured six new starters, including three true freshmen.
A pair of junior inside linebackers led the defensive charge against the Tigers with career-high outputs. Ramik Wilson posted 13 stops while Amarlo Herrera finished with 12 tackles. Two new true freshmen starters - FS Tray Matthews and CB Brendan Langley - combined for 15 tackles in the loss.
Against #6 South Carolina, the defense came up with a goalline stand in the fourth quarter. The Bulldog offense then ran out the final 8:28 of the game to lock down the win.
Through the first two games of the season, Herrera and Wilson ranked first and second in tackles in the SEC standings at 24 and 23, respectively.
ON DECK: vs. #6 LSU
LSU holds a 16-12-1 edge in the series history that dates back to 1928, including a 2-1 mark in SEC Championship game meetings. However, the Bulldogs are 3-1 over the teams' last four matchups in Athens. In 2009, #4 LSU edged #18 Georgia 20-13 the last time the teams played in Sanford Stadium. The last time Georgia faced the Tigers was in the 2011 SEC Championship Game. #1 LSU topped the #12 Bulldogs 42-10 in that contest.
Murray Rewriting Record Books
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 29 wins as a starter, Murray has 78 TDs to just 16 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (10,907), completions (733), TD responsibility (109), TD passes (99) and passing yards (10,723, No. 2 nationally).
Here are some of Murray's career highlights:
Murray has started every game of his career, a total of 43 contests. His 43 starts leads the nation for active players.
Active Career Start Lists
Four-Year Bulldog Starting Quarterbacks
SEC CAREER RECORD WATCH
BULLDOG CAREER RECORD WATCH
DID YOU KNOW?
Aaron Murray is the only QB in SEC history to throw for 3,000 yards or more in each of his first three seasons. There only have been two in NCAA history to do it in four seasons: Timmy Chang, Hawaii (2000, '02-04) and Kellen Moore, Boise State (2008-11)
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.
The 2013 season has seen Gurley and Marshall continue their dominant performances. Gurley has gone over 100 yards twice and has hit the century mark 11 times now overall. He also had his first career touchdown reception against #6 South Carolina complementing his 132 yards rushing and a score on a career-high 30 carries.
Marshall has totaled 105 yards rushing in two games this year. He also has four catches for 82 yards and a score. Marshall had his second career receiving touchdown against the Gamecocks. This marked the first time since 1997 that a pair of Bulldog tailbacks had touchdown catches in the same game (Robert Edwards, Patrick Pass).
Gurley became the 12th Bulldog to rush for 1,000 yards in a season in 2012 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 and 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 set the Bulldog freshman record for rushing TDs in a season with 17. Gurley and Marshall have combined for 14 runs of 25 or more yards, including nine that went for touchdowns.
2012 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
2013 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
Big Guys Up Front
For the season opener, Georgia's starting unit for the offensive line was: senior Kenarious Gates at LT, senior Chris Burnette at RG, senior Dallas Lee at LG, junior David Andrews at C and junior Kolton Houston at RT. Houston moved over to LG in the win over #6 South Carolina as sophomore John Theus got the nod at RT.
Houston got his first shot to play for the Bulldogs 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).
Here's a look at Georgia's offensive production this year: Opponent Points Total Offense (Rushing/Passing) Sacks @ #8 Clemson 35 545 (222/323) 4 #6 South Carolina 41 536 (227/309) 2
Even after playing two top-10 opponents to start the season, Georgia is third the SEC in passing efficiency (194.8) and second in passing yards per game (316.0).
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. In 2013, Georgia has seen the emergence of redshirt sophomore SE Justin Scott-Wesley. He had a career day versus Clemson in the 2013 season opener, hauling in four catches for 55 yards. Against South Carolina, Scott-Wesley posted his first 100-yard performance with three catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, including an 85-yard score. He is fifth in the SEC averaging 85.5 yards/game with seven receptions for 171 yards. Scott-Wesley only had six catches in his career before this season.
Junior Michael Bennett is back from a 2012 ACL injury and is leading the Bulldogs with eight catches for 107 yards. One of the team's leaders last year, Malcolm Mitchell, went down with an ACL injury against Clemson and is out for the year.
Senior TE Arthur Lynch was 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, before the Bulldogs' first game. He began to prove why during the matchup with #6 South Carolina. Lynch had three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown versus the Gamecocks after adding an 18-yard catch against #8 Clemson the week before.
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 UGA had a host of tight ends who ended up in NFL camps, including current Bengal Orson Charles. Backup TE Jay Rome is expected to play against North Texas after injuring his ankle in the Clemson game. He and Lynch combined to have 35 catches for 583 yards and five TDs in 2012.
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.
Gaining Experience Georgia's newcomers jumped into the fire facing eighth-ranked Clemson and sixth-ranked South Carolina to open the season. The Tigers registered 38 points and 467 yards of total offense on 76 plays.
A week later, the Gamecocks rolled up 454 total yards on offense and 30 points on 61 plays. While the Gamecocks tallied 24 points in the first half, the Bulldog defense held them to six points the rest of the way, including a goalline stand on their final possession midway through the fourth quarter.
Georgia has had eight new starters on defense including three true freshmen. FS Tray Matthews, OLB Leonard Floyd and CB Brendan Langley became the first true freshmen starters in a season opener on defense under Mark Richt since Kedric Golston (2002). They are the only four on defense under Richt. Prior to them the last true freshman to start in the secondary in a season opener was Tony Flack in 1982 and it was against Clemson in Athens. Flack was the first true freshman (non-kicker) to start a season opener in the Vince Dooley era, which began in 1964.
The Bulldogs also had five more first-time starters on defense. Sophomore DE Josh Dawson, junior ILB Ramik Wilson, sophomore DE Sterling Bailey, sophomore SS Josh Harvey-Clemons and junior DE Ray Drew have all started at least one game this year. Wilson had a team-high and career-best 13 tackles while Matthews had eight against Clemson. Bailey recorded a career-high 10 tackles during the game with South Carolina.
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. This season, eighth-ranked Clemson scored 21 first half points and then 17 in the second two periods. Sixth-ranked South Carolina scored 24 points in the opening half, but only six in the second half.
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 OLB Josh Dawson, junior DE Ray Drew, junior SS Connor Norman and junior N Mike Thornton all earned significant playing time during the 2012 campaign.
Mixture Of New & Old Faces In The LB Corps
A pair of inside linebackers have led the Bulldog defense through two games. Amarlo Herrera is third in the SEC with 24 tackles while Ramik Wilson is fifth in the league with 23 stops. Herrera played in all 14 games last year, starting nine contests, and is the top returning tackler with 70. Wilson played in 10 games for the Bulldogs in 2012 and got his first start versus Clemson this year.
Another returner in the linebacker corps is sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins. Jenkins has nine tackles so far, including a team-high two tackles for loss. Last year, he had 31 stops with the team's second-most sacks behind current Pittsburgh Steeler Jarvis Jones with 5.0. Jones had a school record 14.5 sacks in 2012.
Swann Leading A Youthful 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, who has started the first two games of 2013, started two games and played in all 14 contests last year. He finished with 18 tackles. In the 2013 opener, Norman had eight tackles, including combining on a tackle for loss. Moore played in 14 games with one start to go with 14 tackles. However, Moore was sidelined for the Clemson game with a knee injury and returned against South Carolina. Also, defensive back Sheldon Dawson appeared in 13 games and had 12 tackles last year, but is coming back from a preseason injury this season.
Suspended for the Clemson game, sophomore CB Josh Harvey-Clemons made his season debut versus South Carolina. He had five tackles and recovered a fumble which set up a third quarter field goal.
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 started at the other safety spot against the Tigers. He had eight stops against the Tigers. Wilkerson tore his ACL during summer workouts and is out for the season.
The First Line Of Defense
Georgia is working 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. The aforementioned trio accounted for 107 tackles last season. 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. He has has four tackles in each of the first two games of 2013 to go along with 1.5 tackles for loss.
Junior Ray Drew has earned increased playing time on the frontline since season's start. He collected 23 tackles in 13 games last year. Against Clemson in the 2013 sesaon opener, Drew had four solo tackles to lead the defensive front. He then started his first game versus South Carolina and added another three stops.
The Bulldogs welcomed three from the junior college ranks. They are Chris Mayes, a 6-4, 321-pound native of Griffin via Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, Toby Johnson, a 6-4, 305-pound native of College Park, Ga., via Hutchinson CC and Johnathan Atkins, a 6-4, 322-pound native of Thomson, Ga., via Hargrave Military Academy. Mayes and Atkins arrived in January and practiced this spring. Johnson has played in each of Georgia's first two games.
Junior Mike Thornton, who was playing behind Jenkins and Geathers, will get his chance for the Bulldogs at N after playing in all 14 games last year. Thornton finished with three tackles and the Bulldogs' only sack of the game against Clemson. 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, but posted four tackles and a hurry in the 2013 opener. He then exploded for a career-high 10 tackles against South Carolina and his performance included a sack. Redshirt freshman John Taylor (6-4, 335) adds more depth to the N and DE positions.
The defensive line is led by coach Chris Wilson, who joined the Bulldogs in January from Mississippi State.
Defend Our Turf
The Bulldogs have won the last 13 home games, which ranks as the third-longest home winning streak in school history. The record is 24 set from 1980-83 and the second longest is 17, which stretched from 2001-04. Georgia's current winning streak started against Coastal Carolina, a 59-0 win on Sept. 17, 2011.
SPECIAL TEAMS AT A GLANCE
Specialists Gain Experience
Barber has averaged 47.2 yards on six punts this year and has forced four fair catches. Barber also ran five yards for a first down on a fake punt from the Georgia 34-yard line. However, he bobbled a snap against the Gamecocks and was credited for a loss of 14 yards after retrieving the loose ball.
Sophomore Patrick Beless is 10-for-10 on PATs and 2-for-2 on FGs (both versus South Carolina) this season. He was lined up to attempt another 19-yard field goal against Clemson, but a high snap caused a fumble and loss of six yards. Beless made the team in the spring of his freshman year in 2012 and has been on the roster the last two seasons. Morgan was suspended for the first two games of 2013 and is expected to play versus North Texas.
Morgan tallied 87 points last year. He hit 8-of-14 field goals (hitting two from 50+) and connected on a school record 63-of-67 extra points.
Redshirt sophomore Nathan Theus has started the first two games as Georgia's snapper. True freshman Trent Frix saw action in each of the Bulldogs' first two contests. Trent is the younger brother of Ty Frix, who was the Bulldogs' snapper for the last four years. Theus, who played special teams last season, is the older brother of offensive lineman John Theus.
The Return Men
The Bulldogs did not have any kickoff returns in the season opener as the Tigers' Bradley Pinion had seven touchbacks. Redshirt sophomore SE Justin Scott-Wesley returned a pair of kicks versus #6 South Carolina and finished with 39 return yards (19.5 avg.).
TB Todd Gurley had seven returns as a true freshman last year, including a 100 yarder to tie the NCAA record versus Buffalo. In the punt return game, junior CB Damian Swann has two returns for 7 yards.
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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