Bulldogs Upset By Vanderbilt 31-27
Oct. 19, 2013
Game 7: Georgia (4-2, 3-1 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3 SEC)
Georgia owns a 53-18-2 edge in the series with Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs have won the last six games in the series and 17 of the past 18. Georgia is 24-7-1 all-time at Vanderbilt Stadium. The Commodores' last victory in the series came in 2006 in Athens, 24-22. Georgia has won the last 10 meetings in Nashville while the Commodores last home win over the Bulldogs came in 1991, 27-25.
SEC Record Watch For Total Offense & TD Passes
Senior quarterback Aaron Murray has two more SEC career records that are within reach Saturday. Currently, he ranks second in Total Offense and Touchdown Passes. He has 12,203 yards of total offense, trailing Tim Tebow (Florida 2006-09) by just 29 yards. This season, Murray ranks second in Total Offense in the SEC at 317.0 ypg behind only Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) at 377.0 ypg.
The SEC record for Career TD passes is 114 by Danny Wuerffel (Florida 1993-96). Murray has 112 TD passes entering the Vanderbilt game including an SEC-best 17 this year.
Going Green In The Running Game
Georgia's current tailback options feature a pair of freshmen in J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas. They have filled in the past two games for injured sophomore stars Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Gurley has been out since the win over No. 6 LSU on Sept. 28 when he went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Marshall was lost for the year with an ACL injury in the first quarter of the UT game.
Since being thrust in to a feature role, the 5-9, 183-pound Green has 29 carries for 216 yards (7.4 average). Not bad for a guy who arrived on campus last January and was listed as an "athlete." Bulldog coaches initially considered him as a cornerback or wide receiver and then in the spring, he got an opportunity at tailback and showed promise.
Most recently, Green tallied 87 yards on 12 carries (7.3 avg.), including a career-long 57-yarder against No. 25 Vanderbilt. The 5-11, 202-pound Douglas finished with 14 carries for a career-high 70 yards. They have proven to be capable options in the passing game too. Douglas picked up his first career TD reception against the Tigers, a 7-yarder, and he ended the day with six catches for 43 yards. Green managed five receptions for 42 yards versus the Tigers. In the road win over UT, Green responded with a career-high 129 yards on 17 attempts while Douglas collected 25 yards rushing and a 32-yard reception.
A Ray Of Sunshine Up Front
Junior DE Ray Drew ranks third in the SEC with a team-best five sacks, and they have come in the last three games (#6 LSU, at Tennessee, No. 25 Vanderbilt). He entered this season with 0.5 career sacks. Most recently, he collected seven tackles and two sacks against the Tigers. For the year, he has 22 tackles.
Next Man Up
Georgia came into its game versus Tennessee on Oct. 5 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. Georgia also has not had starting safety Tray Matthews (hamstring) the last two contests. Head coach Mark Richt announced that Marshall and Scott-Wesley will miss the rest of the year with ACL injuries while Bennett and Matthews should return later this season. Georgia did not have any major injuries against No. 25 Vanderbilt.
The Bulldogs have played 14 true freshman this season. Seven of those have started (FS Tray Matthews, CB Brendan Langley, OLB Leonard Floyd, FS Quincy Mauger, CB Shaq Wiggins, ILB Reggie Carter, TB J.J. Green). Floyd now has four sacks on the year after picking up another against No. 25 Vanderbilt. Ten of the 14 true freshmen 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.
Comfortable Around 4th Down Territory
Georgia has not been afraid to go for it on fourth down this season as it ranks second in the SEC with a 78% conversion rate at 7-for-9. Last year, Georgia was 4-for-9 (44%) on fourth down attempts. The Commodores rank third at 73% (8-for-11). Georgia's opponents have been successful 60% of the time on fourth down this season at 6-for-10 while Vanderbilt's foes are 70% (7-for-10).
Wilson Among SEC Tackle Leaders
Junior ILB Ramik Wilson is second in the SEC with 61 tackles in six games. The Tampa, Fla., native had 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.
The Bulldogs are minus-four in turnover margin this year, which ranks 14th in the SEC and 103rd nationally. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt ranks 11th in the SEC and 85th nationally at minus-two.
Last week, the Bulldogs had four miscues versus No. 25 Vanderbilt. The Tigers lead the SEC in this category and are tied for fourth nationally at plus-nine. Vanderbilt was off last week and its most recent game was against Vanderbilt, and they had one turnover in a 51-28 loss in Nashville.
ON DECK: Open (vs. No. 22 Florida, Nov. 2)
Saturday, Oct. 26 will be Georgia's second bye week of the year. The Bulldogs had their first week without a game between their wins over #6 South Carolina and North Texas. The Bulldogs are 15-4 under Mark Richt following an open date.
When the team returns to action, Georgia will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., for its annual meeting with Florida. The Bulldogs have won their last two games over the Gators. Prior to that, Florida had taken 18 of the last 21 contests. In 2012, Todd Gurley led Georgia's attack with 118 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Defensively, current Pittsburgh Steeler Jarvis Jones was named the Walter Camp National Player of the Week after racking up 13 tackles, including three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
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. He now has 11,915 passing yards, which passes former Bulldog David Greene who held the conference and school records at 11,528. 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 (12,203), completions (819), TD responsibility (124), TD passes (112) and passing yards (11,915, 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
Gurley and Marshall Injured, Frosh Emerge 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. Both missed the matchup versus #25 Vanderbilt.
Following Marshall's injury versus the Vols and with Gurley sidelined, the Bulldogs have 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. He got his first start against Vanderbilt and 87 yards while also having five catches for 42 yards. Douglas had his first rushing touchdown to go with a 32-yard reception against the Vols. His first career catch came on a 3rd-and-6 situation on Georgia's game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. Coming off the bench against Vanderbilt, Douglas had 70 yards on the ground and six catches for 43 yards, including his first career receiving touchdown.
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 before being sidelined for the rest of the year with his ACL injury. He was also a threat in the receiving game with eight catches for 111 yards in 2013.
2012 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
2013 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
Big Guys Up Front
Big Guys Up Front In five of the Bulldogs' first six games, Georgia's starting unit for the offensive line has been: 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. The unit has kept the Bulldogs at No. 2 in the SEC in total offense (517.3/g). 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 three sacks in the last four 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:
Developing Fresh Targets
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.
Yet another Bulldog led Georgia in receiving against #25 Vanderbilt. Freshman TB Brendan Douglas hauled in six passes for 43 yards and his first receiving touchdown during the loss. Five different players caught at least two balls against the Tigers. Junior Chris Conley is leading the unit with 378 yards receiving and four touchdowns after having a line of 5-60-1 against Vanderbilt.
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 is second in the SEC in tackles with 61 (10.2/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 before adding a team-leading nine more tackles against #25 Vanderbilt. His partner on the inside, junior Amarlo Herrera, added 11 tackles in the Tennessee win and is now tied for third in the SEC with 55 stops. There have been two Bulldogs to lead the SEC in tackles (Whit Marshall, 1995, 128; Rennie Curran, 2009, 130).
Freshman OLB Leonard Floyd is coming on strong of late, highlighted by a career-high eight stops against #6 LSU. He had a sack and two tackles for loss against the Tigers after picking up his first two sacks of his career in the win over North Texas. In the battle with #25 Vanderbilt, he improved his sack total to four after catching Tiger quarterback James Franklin 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins is another playmaker. Jenkins has 20 tackles so far, including 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.
Sacking The Opposition
Georgia has moved into a tie for third in the SEC with 16 sacks on the season, including 11 in the last three games (#6 LSU, at Tennessee and versus #25 Vanderbilt). Junior DE Ray Drew has stormed into the team lead and into the No. 3 spot in the conference with five total, including a pair in each of the last two games. Freshman OLB Leonard Floyd is right behind Drew with four (tied for No. 5 in the SEC) after adding another against No. 25 Vanderbilt.
Mauger, Wiggins Get The Nod
True freshmen Quincy Mauger (FS) and Shaq Wiggins (CB) have started the last two games, giving the Bulldogs their fourth different starting lineup in the defensive backfield in six games. Mauger and Wiggins responded by combining for 13 tackles against the Vols plus 10 more versus #25 Vanderbilt.
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 35 tackles in just five games played (he has the second-most tackles of any SEC player who has only played in five contests).
Georgia has a youthful secondary with junior Damian Swann, who equaled his career high against Vanderbilt with eight tackles, as the only starter back. This season, freshman safety Tray Matthews has 20 tackles and the team's only interception (North Texas), but has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Senior safety Connor Norman, who has 14 stops, also missed the matchup versus the Vols because of a concussion but returned against Vanderbilt. He recovered a punt that was fumbled by #6 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, starting three of six games. The Griffin native played in 14 games with one start to go with 14 tackles last 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.
Catching The(ir) Ball
The Bulldogs are tied for last in the SEC (tied for 119th nationally) with just one interception this year (Tray Matthews, North Texas). Vanderbilt is hovering in the same zone with three and are tied for 104th nationally. Georgia finished with 13 last season, including a team-leading four from Damian Swann. The lowest INT total for the Bulldogs in a season in the modern era is five in 2004. That was the fewest in available records going back to 1948. Also of note, the 2004 Bulldog offense threw only five INTs.
Youthful Defense Forced To Grow Up
Four of Georgia's first six opponents this season have been eighth-ranked Clemson, sixth-ranked South Carolina, sixth-ranked LSU and 25th-ranked Vanderbilt, and the Bulldogs are 2-2 against these ranked squads. While No. 25 Vanderbilt put up 41 points last Saturday, three of the Tigers six touchdowns came on drives of 52 yards or less, including a fumble recovery that went for a 21-yard score.
Did You Know? The Bulldogs held the Tigers scoreless in the third period, marking the first quarter all year that Vanderbilt had not scored (broke a 22-quarter streak).
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.
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 13 new starters on defense including seven 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. In their most recent contest, the Bulldogs held #25 Vanderbilt scoreless in the third quarter but gave up 13 points in the final frame.
The Bulldogs also struggled in the second half against #6 LSU and at Tennessee. The Tigers scored 17 points in the first half and 24 in the second. LSU had scored at least 35 points and tallied more than 400 yards in its first five games. 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.
Third Down Stops
One area the Bulldogs hope to continue to improve on is third down defense. The Bulldogs are 13th in the SEC in the category allowing opponents to convert on third down 44 percent of the time. Looking at the last three opponents, sixth-ranked LSU went 10-for-15 (67%) on third downs. Tennessee was 7-for-17 (41%) on third downs while No. 25 Vanderbilt was 5-for-12 (42%)
Smith, Drew Anchoring Defensive Front
Smith leads this group and is fourth on the team with 28 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, before adding another two sacks against #25 Vanderbilt. Drew came into the year with 0.5 sacks and now has five in his last three games.
Bailey is close behind Smith with 26 tackles and that ranks sixth 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.
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 against Tennessee in history and is tied for the longest in the NCAA this year. Then, Morgan won the UT game with a 42 yarder 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 his 55 yarder, 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). On the year, Morgan is 8-for-10.
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 45.1 yards on 18 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. Erickson punted twice against No. 25 Vanderbilt for a 40.5 average while Barber's two averaged 32.0 yards. Redshirt sophomore Nathan Theus has assumed the role as FG and PAT snapper this season. True freshman Trent Frix has seen action five of six games 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 18.3/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 has eight returns for 28 yards while Davis has six for 30 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 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.
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
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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