Georgia Tops LSU In Top-10 Shootout, 44-41
Sept. 29, 2013
Game 4: Georgia (2-1, 1-0 SEC) vs. LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
Defend Our Turf
The Bulldogs have won the last 14 home games at Sanford Stadium, which ranks as the third-longest home winning streak in school history and the best current streak in the SEC. 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.
In fact, the Bulldogs are attempting to beat two top-10 teams in Sanford Stadium in the same season for the first time in history. Earlier this year, Georgia defeated #6 South Carolina.
Series History With LSU
LSU holds a 16-12-1 edge in the series history that dates back to 1928. The Tigers have won the last two meetings, including the 2011 SEC Championship Game and a matchup in Athens in 2009. However, Georgia won three consecutive games prior to the 2009 game, including a 45-16 victory in Athens in 2004. Saturday's game features two of the league's top senior quarterbacks in Georgia's Aaron Murray and LSU's Zach Mettenberger who began his career with the Bulldogs. Currently, LSU is third in the SEC in scoring offense at 43.2 points a game while the Bulldogs are fourth at 40.3.
Under head coach Mark Richt, the Bulldogs are 3-4 against LSU:
Aiming For Another Big Ranked Win Between The Hedges
Georgia is 31-45-2 all-time against ranked opponents in Sanford Stadium. The last ranked team to visit Athens came on Sept. 7 when the 11th-ranked Bulldogs topped sixth-ranked South Carolina 41-30. This will be the biggest game between two top-10 teams in Sanford Stadium since 2008 when third-ranked Georgia was upset by eighth-ranked Alabama 41-30. Incidentally, that was also the last time ESPN College GameDay was on campus. Saturday will mark the third time that College GameDay will be in Athens for a game. The Bulldogs have beaten top-10 teams in Sanford Stadium 10 times since 1942, including this year's win over No. 6 South Carolina. Georgia will be looking to register two wins over top-10 teams in the same season for the ninth time in school history. The last time it happened was in 2007 when Georgia beat #9 Florida in Jacksonville and #10 Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.
Potent Offense Returns In 2013
The Bulldogs are currently ranked seventh nationally in total offense (574.0 ypg). Georgia posted 35 points against #8 Clemson, 41 versus #6 South Carolina and 45 in the win over North Texas. 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 yards. Highlighted by 450 passing yards, the Bulldogs piled up 641 yards on 74 plays against the Mean Green.
Last year, Georgia tallied a school record 529 points including scoring more than 40 points in eight games.
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, now up to #3 in the polls, 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.
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 41-30 win.
The defense held the North Texas offense to a single touchdown and just seven yards rushing. The Mean Green scored their other two touchdowns with special teams plays.
Even though Georgia has played just three games, Wilson ranks second in the SEC with 31 tackles while Herrera is tied for fourth with 30 stops.
ON DECK: @ Tennessee
The Bulldogs will return to the road for a matchup with Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC) on Oct. 5. The Volunteers own a 21-19-2 edge in the series, however Georgia has recorded victories the last three times the teams have faced.
Last year, the Bulldogs won a 51-44 shootout in Sanford Stadium. After building a 21-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, the teams were tied 30-all at halftime. The Bulldog freshmen tailbacks were in the difference as Georgia pushed its record to 5-0 on the season. Keith Marshall finished with 164 yards on 10 carries (16.4 avg.) with two touchdowns (a 75 yarder and a 72 yarder). Todd Gurley had 130 yards and three scores on 24 carries. The Bulldogs assured their victory after forcing the Vols into three turnovers in their final three possessions.
Murray Looking For Another Signature Win
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. Currently, he is fourth nationally with a 201.78 mark. 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 30 wins as a starter, Murray has 81 TDs to just 17 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (11,352), completions (755), TD responsibility (113), TD passes (102) and passing yards (11,131, No. 2 nationally).
Here are some of Murray's career highlights:
Murray has started every game of his career, a total of 44 contests. His 44 starts leads the nation for active players.
Active Career Start Lists
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 117 yards rushing this year. He also has seven catches for 111 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 and most recently in the North Texas game, 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:
Even after playing two top-10 opponents to start the season, Georgia leads the SEC in passing efficiency (204.8) and ranks second in passing yards per game (360.7).
One of the keys to Aaron Murray's success has been his passing efficiency, and his ability to spread the ball around. In 2013, Georgia has seen the emergence of redshirt sophomore SE Justin Scott-Wesley. He had a career day versus #8 Clemson in the 2013 season opener, hauling in four catches for 55 yards. Against #6 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 sixth in the SEC averaging 78.0 yards/game with 10 receptions for 234 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 tied for the team lead in catches with 10 for 124 yards. Junior Chris Conley also has 10 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown. He was the leading receiver last week versus North Texas with five for 63 and a score. True freshman Reggie Davis caught a 98-yard touchdown strike from Murray to etch their names in school history. This was the longest offensive scoring play in school history. It is also tied for the third-longest passing touchdown in SEC history and is the longest passing touchdown in the FBS this year.
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, a preseason First Team All-SEC and Second Team All-America selection, has picked up this season where he left off in 2012. He posted career highs with four catches for 85 yards and a touchdown against North Texas. Lynch had three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown versus the #6 Gamecocks after adding an 18-yard catch against #8 Clemson the week before.
Backup TE Jay Rome played against North Texas after injuring his ankle in the Clemson game. He had a career-long catch for 27 yards, but left the game favoring his ankle again.
Mason Waiting In The Wings
Redshirt junior Hutson Mason leads 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.
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 flexed its muscle on defense even more during the matchup against North Texas. The Mean Green managed only one touchdown on offense (two on special teams) and 245 total yards on offense, including just seven on the ground.
Georgia has had nine 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.
Defense Forced To Grow Up In A Hurry
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. Georgia's defense versus North Texas tossed a shutout in the second half. The only touchdown that the Mean Green scored in the final two quarters came on a blocked punt that was recovered in the end zone.
The Bulldogs will be faced with another challenge in trying to slow down #6 LSU. The Tigers feature another potent offense that has scored at least 35 points and tallied 400 total yards of offense in every game this season.
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.
Linebacker Duo Leading The Defense
Although Georgia has played just three games on the year, Bulldog linebackers Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera are both ranked in the top five in the SEC for total tackles. Wilson is second with 31 while Herrera is tied for fourth with 30. 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 15 tackles so far, including a team-high four 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.
Freshman OLB Leonard Floyd also give the Bulldogs depth at line- backer. Floyd has 12 tackles this season, including the first two sacks of his career in the win over North Texas.
Swann Leading A Youthful Secondary
Georgia's secondary faces another stiff test this week as #6 LSU features one of the top passing offenses in the league (2nd in passing efficiency). LSU is led by senior QB Zach Mettenberger and two of the most talented receivers in the SEC in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Beckham is third in the league with 20 catches for 389 yards and four touchdowns while Landry has 24 catches for 364 yards and six touchdowns. Beckham ranks first in the SEC in all-purpose yards as well.
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. This season, freshman safety Tray Matthews and senior safety Connor Norman lead the unit with 14 tackles each. Matthews registered his career interception against North Texas, which was also Georgia's first pick of 2013.
A pair of reserve safeties return for the Bulldogs in 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 then got his first start against North Texas. Also, defensive back Sheldon Dawson appeared in 13 games and had 12 tackles last year and is back in a reserve role this year.
After missing 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. Harvey-Clemons posted a career-high seven stops, including a tackle for loss, during the victory over North Texas.
Georgia's 2013 signing class featured eight defensive backs/safeties including three who enrolled early in Matthews, Quincy Mauger and Reggie Wilkerson. Wilkerson tore his ACL during summer workouts and is out for the season.
The First Line Of Defense
Bailey leads this group with 16 tackles and that ranks third on the team. Bailey has battled back from shoulder and foot injuries that slowed his progress early in his career. He exploded for a career-high 10 tackles against #6 South Carolina and his performance included a sack.
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 season 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 Bulldog defensive front will have another test against the Tigers. TB Jeremy Hill (6-2, 235) and FB Connor Copeland (6-0, 270) are two of the conference's most powerful backs.
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 as Mayes made his debut against North Texas.
The defensive line is led by coach Chris Wilson, who joined the Bulldogs in January from Mississippi State.
SPECIAL TEAMS AT A GLANCE
Specialists Gain Experience
Barber has averaged 47.9 yards on 11 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. Versus North Texas, Barber's punt was blocked and the Mean Green recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. However, Barber averaged 49.8/yds on five punts against North Texas, including a career-long 61 yarder. He is on pace to have one of the best seasons in school history with a 47.9 average through three games. Drew Butler (2009) owns the school record at 48.1.
Morgan was suspended for the first two games of 2013 and played in his first game versus North Texas. He was 5-for-5 on PATs and 1-for-2 on FGs against the Mean Green after missing a 52 yarder as time expired in the first half. 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.
During Morgan's absence, sophomore Patrick Beless was 10-for-10 on PATs and 2-for-2 on FGs (both versus South Carolina) during the first two games. 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.
Redshirt sophomore Nathan Theus has started the first two games as Georgia's snapper. True freshman Trent Frix has also seen action in each of the Bulldogs' first three 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.). Freshman TB J.J. Green returned one kick for 19 yards in the matchup with North Texas.
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 six returns for 30 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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