No. 7 Georgia's Comeback Falls Short Against No. 25 Missouri, 41-26
Oct. 12, 2013
Game 4: Georgia (4-1, 3-0 SEC) vs. Mizzouri (5-0, 1-0 SEC)
Defend Our Turf
The Bulldogs have won their last 15 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. During this current stretch, the Bulldogs have beaten two top-10 teams in Sanford Stadium in the same season for the first time in history. Georgia defeated #6 South Carolina 41-30 on Sept. 7 and #6 LSU 44-41 on Sept. 28.
Next Man Up
Georgia came into its game versus Tennessee missing its top tailback in Todd Gurley (ankle) and top receiver in Malcolm Mitchell (ACL). During the game against the Volunteers, the Bulldogs lost tailback Keith Marshall and receivers Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett to right knee injuries. Scott-Wesley and Bennett currently rank second and third in receiving, respectively, while Marshall was the second-leading rusher and ranked fifth on the team in receiving. Georgia also did not have safeties Connor Norman (concussion) and Tray Matthews (hamstring) versus UT. Even punter Collin Barber left the Tennessee game with a concussion. The Sunday after the game, head coach Mark Richt announced that Marshall and Scott-Wesley are out for the year with ACL injuries while an update on Bennett's return is coming.
Tigers Come To Town For First Time
Georgia will face a prolific offensive attack when Missouri comes to town on Saturday. The Tigers are second in the SEC in scoring (46.6), lead the league in rushing (258.8), fourth in passing at 285.0 and are tied for the league lead with a +5 turnover margin. In addition, senior QB James Franklin trails only Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel in total offense at 337.0 yds/g.
The Bulldogs topped Missouri 41-20 last year during the Tigers' first SEC game in history. Before 2013, the two teams had only played in 1960. Last year, the Bulldogs made the trip to Columbia, Mo., to face the Tigers. Current Baltimore Raven Marlon Brown shredded Missouri for 106 yards and two TDs on eight catches. Defensively for the Bulldogs, Amarlo Herrera had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery while current Pittsburgh Steeler Jarvis Jones exploded for nine tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.
Potent Offense Returns In 2013
Georgia is averaging 39.8 points a game, which ranks fourth in the SEC, and the Bulldogs' schedule has included three games against top-10 opponents. Georgia is 3-0 in the SEC after beating #6 South Carolina 41-30, #6 LSU 44-41 and Tennessee 34-31 in overtime. The victory over LSU marked the first time a team has scored at least 44 points on the Tigers in regulation since the Bulldogs outlasted LSU 52-38 in 2008.
There have been only four Bulldog teams that have scored 40+ points in three SEC games during a single season and Georgia has already accomplished the feat twice this year. Senior QB Aaron Murray has been a part of two of the teams that have done it as Georgia has hit the 40-point mark three times in a season four different times (1942, 2007, 2010, 2012). Last year, the Bulldogs went over the 40-point mark against Missouri, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. In 2010, Murray directed Georgia to three consecutive SEC wins where the Bulldogs eclipsed the 40-point mark beating Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
The Bulldogs have played 14 true freshman this season. Five of those have started (FS Tray Matthews, CB Brendan Langley, OLB Leonard Floyd, FS Quincy Mauger, CB Shaq Wiggins). Floyd had a career- high eight stops, including his third sack, in the win over LSU. In fact, 10 of the 14 play defense. This is tied for third nationally with LSU while Texas A&M (17) and UCLA (15) are the top two in the category.
Due to injuries, Georgia's backfield featured two true freshman tailbacks versus Tennessee. J.J. Green finished with 17 carries for a career-high 129 yards (7.6 avg.) while Brendan Douglas finished with 10 carries for 25 yards and his first career touchdown. Douglas also snagged his first career reception, a 32-yarder that moved the ball down to the Tennessee 13 yard line on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. His catch came on a 3rd-and-6 situation with under a minute to play.
Wilson Leads SEC Tacklers
Junior ILB Ramik Wilson leads the SEC with 52 tackles in only five games. The Tampa, Fla., native is coming off a career-high 15 tackles, including a sack, in the overtime win at Tennessee. To put that in perspective, Wilson appeared in 18 games and had 10 total tackles coming into this season.
Two SEC Players Of The Week For The Dogs Both senior RG Chris Burnette (Offensive Lineman of the Week) and sophomore PK Marshall Morgan (Special Teams Player of the Week) were awarded weekly honors by the SEC for their play in the win at Tennessee.
Anniversary Of First Sanford Stadium Game With ticket prices at $3 each and programs on sale for $0.50, Georgia football hosted its first home game at Sanford Stadium on Oct. 12, 1929. The Bulldogs shutout Yale 15-0. Georgia is 5-2 in games on Oct. 12 in Sanford Stadium.
ON DECK: @ Vanderbilt
Georgia owns a 53-18-2 edge in the series with Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs have won the last six games in the matchup and 17 of the last 18. In fact, Georgia has captured the last 10 victories in Nashville. Last year, the Bulldogs drilled the Commodores 48-3, which equaled the largest margin of victory in the series (UGA won 45-0 in 1976). Georgia opened up a 27-0 lead and only allowed a third quarter field goal. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 212 yards and four touchdowns to pace the Bulldog attack. Amarlo Herrera led the team with eight stops, including a tackle for loss, while Jarvis Jones, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, had seven tackles, including a sack and three tackles for loss.
Murray Sets SEC All-Time Passing Mark
With a 24-yard strike to Chris Conley on a 4th-and-4 situation at Tennessee, senior QB Aaron Murray became the SEC's all-time leader in passing yardage. His 11,625 yards passed former Bulldog David Greene, who held the conference and school records at 11,528. Currently, Murray is seventh nationally in passing efficiency with a 176.9 mark. The SEC record is 182.1 set by Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton in 2010. Last year, Murray ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency at 174.82. In 2011, Murray graduated with a degree in Psychology after posting a GPA of 3.3. He is now taking undergraduate classes towards another degree.
In his 32 wins as a starter, Murray has 88 TDs to just 18 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (11,908), completions (794), TD responsibility (121), TD passes (109) and passing yards (11,625, No. 2 nationally among active FBS QBs).
Here are some of Murray's career highlights:
Active Career Start National Leaders
SEC 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
In 2012, true freshmen roommates and North Carolina natives Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall became Georgia's weapons in the backfield.
The pair picked up where they had left off during the first three games of 2013. Gurley, who has hit the century mark 11 times in his career, and Marshall combined for more than 100 yards and at least one touchdown in those contests. However, Gurley went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter during the win over #6 LSU and Marshall responded with a career- high 20 carries for 96 yards. Then, Marshall injured his right knee in the first quarter of the Tennessee game after carrying the ball five times for 33 yards.
Following Marshall's injury versus the Vols and with Gurley sidelined, the Bulldogs called on freshmen tailbacks J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas. Green responded with a career-high 129 yards on 17 attempts as the featured back against Tennessee. Douglas finished with 25 yards rushing and his first touchdown to go with a 32-yard reception. His first career catch came on a 3rd-and-6 situation on Georgia's game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.
Through the first four games of the 2013 season, Gurley and Marshall had continued their dominant performances. Gurley has gone over 100 yards twice. 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.
In the win over #6 LSU, Gurley had eight carries for 73 yards (9.1 avg.) before leaving early in the second quarter because of an ankle injury. For the year, Gurley is averaging 112.5 yds/g as he has tallied 450 yards on 71 attempts. Marshall had 246 yards on 56 attempts this season. He was also a threat in the receiving game with eight catches for 111 yards in 2013.
There are also a couple of freshmen options at tailback. Brendan Douglas and J.J. Green have both played and combined for 104 yards. Incidentally, sophomore FB Quayvon Hicks is the team's third leading rusher with 67 yards on eight carries (8.4 avg.).
2012 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
2013 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
Big Guys Up Front
In four of the Bulldogs' first five games, 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. Burnette was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Tennessee game after grading out at 82 percent with six dominator blocks and four knockdowns. Houston moved over to LG in the win over #6 South Carolina as sophomore John Theus got the nod at RT. Georgia's offensive line has only allowed a single sack in the last three games after allowing six in the first two contests. 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:
One of the keys to Aaron Murray's success has been his passing efficiency, and his ability to spread the ball around. The matchup with Tennessee proved to be especially costly for the receiving corps. During the contest, the Bulldogs lost redshirt sophomore SE Justin Scott-Wesley (ACL) and junior SE Michael Bennett to right knee injuries. The Bulldogs turned to their theme "Next man up" as senior FLK Rantavious Wooten led the team with a career-high six catches for 38 yards and two scores. He became the fourth different Bulldog to lead the team in the first five games. Prior to the Tennessee game, Wooten had just two catches for 46 yards this year. He has now caught at least one touchdown in five consecutive seasons. In 2011, he got a medical redshirt following three games after he sustained a concussion in a car accident.
Besides Wooten, one of the Bulldogs' lone healthy returning receivers is junior Chris Conley. He leads Georgia with 20 catches for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Conley was the leading receiver versus #6 LSU with five receptions for 112 yards. He then snagged five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in the win over Tennessee. Senior Rhett McGowan has also played in all five games this year and has six catches for 58 yards. McGowan finished the 2012 season with 12 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown.
In 2013, Georgia had seen the emergence of Scott-Wesley. 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 snagged the game-winning catch against #6 LSU with 1:47 left in the game and finished with four catches for 55 yards.
Bennett had returned from a 2012 ACL injury and was third on the team with 14 catches for 176 yards. Bennett tied his career high with two scores against #6 LSU.
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. Davis was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts.
One of the team's leaders last year, Malcolm Mitchell, went down with an ACL injury against Clemson and is out for the year.
Linebacker Duo Leading The Defense
Junior ILB Ramik Wilson leads the SEC in tackles with 52 (10.4/g) after a career performance against the Volunteers. The Tampa, Fla., native racked up 15 stops, including a sack, to take over the conference lead. His partner on the inside, junior Amarlo Herrera, added 11 tackles in the Tennessee win and is now fifth in the SEC with 47 stops. There have been two Bulldogs to lead the SEC in tackles (Whit Marshall, 1995, 128; Rennie Curran, 2009, 130).
Another playmaker at linebacker includes sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins. Jenkins has 18 tackles so far, including a team-high five tackles for loss of 29 yards. Last year, he had 31 stops with the team's second-most sacks (5.0) behind current Pittsburgh Steeler Jarvis Jones with 5.0. Jones had a school record 14.5 sacks in 2012.
Freshman OLB Leonard Floyd is coming on strong of late, highlighted by a career-high eight stops against LSU. He had a sack and two tackles for loss against the Tigers after Floyd had his first two sacks of his career in the win over North Texas.
Mauger, Wiggins Get The Nod
True freshman Quincy Mauger (FS) and Shaq Wiggins (CB) started for the first time against Tennessee, giving the Bulldogs their fourth different starting lineup in the defensive backfield in five games. Mauger and Wiggins responded by combining for 13 tackles against the Vols.
Bulldog sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons ignited the defense with a career-high 15 tackles in the victory over #6 LSU. This was the most for a Bulldog since Alec Ogletree had 15 in the win over Georgia Tech last year. Harvey-Clemons is third on the team in tackles with 30 tackles in just four games played.
Georgia has a youthful secondary with junior Damian Swann as the only starter back. This season, freshman safety Tray Matthews is seventh on the team 20 tackles, despite missing the Tennessee game with a hamstring injury. Senior safety Connor Norman, who has 14 stops, also missed the matchup versus the Vols because of a concussion. Matthews registered his first career interception against North Texas, which is also Georgia's only pick of 2013. Norman recovered a punt that was fumbled by LSU and the Bulldogs were able to convert it into a touchdown in the next series.
Junior Corey Moore has also been called into duty in the backfield, starting against North Texas and Tennessee. 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. Also, defensive back Sheldon Dawson appeared in 13 games and had 12 tackles last year and is back in a reserve role this year.
Georgia's 2013 signing class featured eight defensive backs/safeties including three who enrolled early in Matthews, Mauger and Reggie Wilkerson. Wilkerson tore his ACL during summer workouts and is out for the season.
Youthful Defense Growing Up
Three of Georgia's first five opponents this season have been eighthranked Clemson, sixth-ranked South Carolina and sixth-ranked LSU and the Bulldogs managed to go 2-1 against these ranked squads. However, the Georgia defense gave up 21 second-half points in the win at Tennessee after holding the Volunteers to just a field goal in the first two periods.
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 while taking a break from facing top-10 foes with a 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.
The Bulldogs' stout rushing defense continued against sixth-ranked LSU. Georgia held the Tigers to just 15 yards on the ground in the first half. LSU finished with just 77 yards rushing after coming into the game averaging 221.0 rushing yards/game.
Georgia has had 12 new starters on defense including six 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 Make Adjustments
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 have struggled in the second half during the last two games. Sixth-ranked LSU scored 17 points in the first half and 24 in the second. The Tigers have scored at least 35 points and tallied more than 400 yards in all five games of the 2013 season. Against the Volunteers, the defense allowed three touchdowns (the fourth of the half was a blocked punt returned for a touchdown).
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.
Sacking The Opposition
Georgia has moved into a tie for fifth in the SEC with 12 sacks on the season, including seven in the latest wins over #6 LSU and at Tennessee. Freshman OLB Leonard Floyd, who is tied with Ray Drew for the team lead with three sacks, redshirt sophomore N Chris Mayes, Drew and sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins each had a sack against the Tigers. Drew came back a week later and had two versus the Vols.
Third Down Stops
One area the Bulldogs hope to continue to improve on is third down defense. After LSU went 10-for-15 on third downs, Georgia held Tennessee to 7-of-17 (although the Vols went 3-for-3 on fourth down attempts). The Bulldogs are 14th in the SEC in the category allowing opponents to convert on third down 44.0 percent of the time.
Smith, Drew Anchoring Defensive Front
Smith leads this group and is fourth on the team with 26 tackles after matching his career high with eight versus Tennessee. Also against the Vols, Drew rose to the occasion with five tackles, including a career-high two sacks. Drew came into the year with 0.5 sacks and now has three in his last two games. He started his first game versus #6 South Carolina and had three stops. Versus #6 LSU, Drew had his first sack in a three-tackle performance.
Bailey is close behind Smith with 22 tackles and that ranks fifth 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.
Redshirt sophomore N Chris Mayes started his first game against LSU and responded with four tackles and a sack. He made his Bulldog debut versus North Texas.
SPECIAL TEAMS AT A GLANCE
Specialists Gain Experience
Morgan connected on a career-long 56-yard field goal on Georgia's first possession against Tennessee and was later named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second consecutive week. This is the longest since Morgan drilled a 55 yarder in the win over #6 LSU. It is the longest FG for the Bulldogs since Blair Walsh kicked a 56 yarder versus Buffalo in 2011 and the longest on the road in school history. Morgan's field goal is the longest in Neyland Stadium history and is tied for the longest in the NCAA this year. Then, Morgan won the contest today with a 42-yard in overtime. It marked the first game-winner by a Bulldog since 2009 (Blair Walsh, 37 yds., ASU).
Morgan scored a career-high 14 points, including a 55-yard field goal, in the win over LSU as he connected with three field goals and 5 PATs in the 44-41 thriller. Morgan got his first career SEC weekly honor following his performance. He is one of four Bulldogs to make FGs of 55 or more longer twice in a season. Morgan joins Rex Robinson (1980), Kevin Butler (1984) and Brandon Coutu (2005).
Sophomore Patrick Beless filled in for Morgan in the first two contests this year and 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.
Barber has averaged 46.8 yards on 16 punts this year. Barber also ran five yards for a first down on a fake punt from the Georgia 34-yard line at #6 Clemson. Barber returned to average 49.8/yds on five punts against North Texas, including a career-long 61 yarder. In the Tennessee game, a blocked punt led to a touchdown and he sustained a concussion on the play. Junior Adam Erickson finished the game as punter.
Redshirt sophomore Nathan Theus has assumed the role as FG and PAT snapper this season. True freshman Trent Frix has seen action in all four the Bulldogs' first four contests and is snapping on punts now. Trent is the younger brother of Ty Frix, who was the Bulldogs' snapper for the last four years.
The Return Men
Four Bulldogs have returned kicks this year for an average of 18.8/yds, including the longest by Justin Scott-Wesley of 24 yards against #6 South Carolina. True freshman Reggie Davis has four returns for 69 yards. In the punt return game, junior CB Damian Swann leads the squad with eight returns for 28 yards. The only other Bulldog to return a punt is Davis, who had three for six yards.
Did You Know?
Georgia is one of only two teams since after the 2000 season to beat two top-10 teams in a season before Oct. 1, according to ESPN citing the Elias Sports Bureau. Alabama in 2008 was the other.
In fact, Georgia's thrilling 44-41 victory over No. 6 LSU marked the first time in school history that the Bulldogs have posted two wins over top-10 teams in Sanford Stadium in the same season. The Bulldogs also extended their home winning streak to 15, the third longest in school history and best current streak in the SEC.
Georgia's OT Record (5-4)
H: 0-0; A: 3-2; N: 2-2; SEC: 3-2
Bulldog Depth Tested Every Week
Georgia's athletic training staff has been working overtime to keep the Bulldogs as close to full strength as possible while younger, inexperienced players are getting a shot for an increased role due to injuries to the veterans. Numerous key Bulldogs have missed games, gotten hurt during games, and a few have been sidelined for the season. Nine Bulldog players have missed game time because of injuries and three on offense are out for 2013.
Out For The Year
Malcolm Mitchell, FLK (ACL), Hurt in 1st quarter of Clemson game
NFL Picks Record Eight Bulldogs
Georgia tied a school record with eight Bulldogs selected during the 2013 NFL Draft. This equaled Georgia's tally in 2002. Unlike 2002 where Charles Grant was the sole first rounder, the Bulldogs had a pair of first round picks in Jarvis Jones (Pittsburgh Steelers - 17th) and Alec Ogletree (St. Louis Rams - 30th). Georgia had the fifth-most players in the nation selected in the 2013 Draft.
The Bulldogs have 37 players on the active NFL rosters. In addition, Georgia has six players who are either on the injured-reserve or practice squads.
The Bulldogs have two sets of brothers on this year's team. Sophomore RT John Theus and redshirt sophomore SN Nathan Theus both start for Georgia after coming to Athens from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. Redshirt sophomore QB Christian LeMay is also a backup for the Bulldogs while his younger brother, Uriah, joined the team as a true freshman receiver this summer. The LeMays attended Butler High School (N.C.).
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