Bulldogs Drop Heartbreaker in Auburn, 43-38
Nov. 16, 2013
Game 10: Georgia (6-3, 4-2 SEC) vs. Auburn (9-1, 6-1 SEC)
Series History & Another Top-10 Foe
This marks the 117th meeting between Georgia and Auburn, the seventh most played rivalry in the NCAA FBS. The Bulldogs and Tigers first squared off in 1892 in Atlanta's Piedmont Park. The series is even at 54-54-8 and Georgia has won six out of the last seven and leads the series in Auburn 15-10-2. With a win, Georgia would take its first lead in the series since 1986 when they went up 42-41-7. The Bulldogs' win last year on the Plains marked the 16th time that the two teams have had an equal amount of wins. There have been six previous lead changes in the series (as Auburn won the first meeting and did not relinquish the lead until 1928). Georgia has scored 1,892 points while Auburn has tallied 1,771. A win would also mark the first time since 1966 (#7 Florida, Jacksonville; #5 Ga. Tech, Athens; #10 SMU, Dallas) that the Bulldogs would have posted three wins over top-10 opponents in the same season.
UGA travels to Auburn for the second straight year marking the first time the game has been played at the same site for two years in a row since 1958. The game was played in Columbus during a stretch from 1930- 58. The first 10 games were played in Atlanta starting in 1892. There were also meetings in Montgomery, Savannah, Athens and Columbus before games on each team's respective campuses since 1959.
Last season, Georgia blistered Auburn 38-0 on the Plains. It marked the first time the Bulldogs posted a shutout against Auburn since 1978 when they won 28-0 in Auburn. The 38-point margin of victory matches the 2011 score of 45-7 win in Athens and tied for the second largest margin of victory.
Murray Secures Third SEC Record
Senior QB Aaron Murray set his third SEC record of the year in the first half of the Appalachian State game. With his 23-yard strike to junior receiver Michael Bennett in the second quarter, Murray registered the 115th touchdown pass of his career (tied at ninth in NCAA history). This topped Danny Wuerffel, who had 114 (Florida, 1993-96). Murray has already set the SEC's all-time mark in Total Offense (12,896) and Passing Yards (12,568). He finished the game 19-for-26 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in three quarters of play against the Mountaineers as Georgia held a 31-6 lead.
Tight Tussles The Norm In 2013
Under Mark Richt, the Bulldogs have played 45 games that have been decided by five points or less, going 26-19 in these tight tussles. This year, Georgia has played in five such contests, going 3-2. This season, five of Georgia's nine games have been decided by four points or less. The only season that featured more was in 2006 when Georgia had six of these and went 4-2. That is tied for the most by an FBS team this year. Here are the top four teams that have had these close contests this year. Georgia (5) 3-2; South Alabama (5) 1-4; Notre Dame (4) 4-0; Rutgers (4) 3-1
Run It By You
Auburn leads the SEC and is ranked third nationally in rushing offense, averaging 320 yards a game. Auburn is coming off a record-setting rushing performance in the 55-23 road win over Tennessee, tallying 444 yards on the ground. Junior Tre Mason ranks second in the SEC with 1,038 rushing yards. Georgia ranks fourth in the SEC and 20th nationally in stopping the run, allowing just 126 rushing yards a game. The most rushing yards the Bulldogs have allowed this season came against #6 South Carolina (226) while the fewest came against North Texas (7). The Bulldogs annually face Georgia Tech's spread-option offense. In Georgia's 42-34 win over the Yellow Jackets in 2010, Tech ran the football 77 times for 411 yards. Bulldog sophomore Todd Gurley, who has been limited to six games this year due to an ankle injury, ranks third in the SEC with 104.2 rushing yards per game with 625 yds. rushing and six TDs on the year.
SEC Scoring Leaders Meet
Auburn junior running back Tre Mason and Georgia sophomore place-kicker Marshall Morgan ranks 1-2 in the SEC in scoring average. Mason has accounted for 102 points (10.2 avg.) while Morgan has 70 points (10.0 avg.). Morgan, a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, leads all SEC kickers in scoring average as he is 14-for-16 in field goals (including the nation's longest at 56 yds. at Tennessee) and 28-for-28 in PATs.
Wilson Leads SEC In Tackles
Junior ILBs Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera have been among the SEC leaders in tackles all year. Currently, Wilson leads the league with 92 (10.2/g) and Herrera is fourth with 79 stops. Wilson has led the team in tackles six times this season. Herrera posted a team and career-high 12 in the win over #6 South Carolina.
There have been two Bulldogs to lead the SEC in tackles (Whit Marshall, 1995, 128; Rennie Curran, 2009, 130).
The Bulldogs are minus-seven in turnover margin this year, which ranks 13th in the SEC. Meanwhile, seventh-ranked Auburn is ninth at plus-1 on the year.
Last time out, the Bulldogs lost one fumble and had two interceptions against Appalachian State and UGA had a pick of its own. The Tigers had a pair of turnovers and forced one.
Many Happy Returns
Georgia looks to slow down the Tiger return game that ranks first in the SEC in kickoff returns (26.7 avg.) and third in punt returns (12.0 avg). Auburn's Chris Davis returned a punt for a TD and Corey Grant returned a kickoff for a TD as part of a record-setting day for the Tigers in the rout of Tennessee last Saturday. Auburn rolled up 312 return yards. Davis leads the SEC with a 24.1 punt return average while junior Tre Mason is third in kick returns with a 27.5 average. Grant has just two kick returns on the year.
Meanwhile, Georgia ranks 14th in the league in kickoff returns (16.2 avg.) and 12th in punt returns (3.5 avg.).
ON DECK: vs. Kentucky
Georgia holds a 52-12-2 edge over Kentucky since the teams' first meeting in 1939. The Bulldogs have won the last three in a row, including a 29-24 thriller in Lexington last year. Aaron Murray paced Georgia with 427 yards passing and four touchdowns while current Carolina Panther Tavarres King hauled in nine passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Current St. Louis Ram Alec Ogletree led a trio of Bulldog defenders with 10+ tackles.
Murray Sets His Third SEC Record
Senior QB Aaron Murray has set three SEC records this season. Most recently, he connected on the 115th touchdown pass of his career, which passed Florida's Danny Wuerffel (114, 1993-96). Murray set the league record for career total offense in the first quarter of the Vanderbilt game. The Tampa, Fla., native's 12,896 yards surpassed Florida's Tim Tebow, who had 12,232.
With a 24-yard strike to Chris Conley on a 4th-and-4 situation at Tennessee, Murray became the SEC's all-time leader in passing yardage. He now has 12,568 passing yards, which passed former Bulldog and SEC record holder David Greene (11,528). In 2011, Murray graduated with a degree in Psychology after posting a GPA of 3.3. The 2012 Capital One Academic Second Team All-American is now taking undergraduate classes towards another degree.
In his 34 wins as a starter, Murray has 91 TDs to just 19 INTs. In addition to TD Passes, Total Offense and Passing Yards, Murray is also the SEC's leading active player in Completions (870) and TD Responsibility (129). His 12,568 passing yards are No. 2 nationally among active FBS quarterbacks.
Here are some of Murray's career highlights:
Four-Year Bulldog Starting Quarterbacks
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)
Mason Surges In Backup Role
Junior QB Hutson Mason relieved Murray for the fourth quarter of the Appalachian State game and finished 11-for-16 for a career-high 160 yards and a touchdown. He connected with redshirt freshman receiver Kenneth Towns for a 3-yard score, marking Towns' first career reception. Junior SE Jonathon Rumph also snagged his first career completion on the same scoring drive with a 24-yard catch and finished with four catches for 98 yards from Mason.
Frosh Fill In Nicely
During a three and a half game stretch this year, the backfield featured a pair of true freshmen in J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas. They filled in for injured sophomore stars Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Gurley had been out since the win over No. 6 LSU on Sept. 28 when he went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter before returning against Florida. Marshall was lost for the year with an ACL injury in the first quarter of the UT game on Oct. 5. Now back as reserves, Green has 53 carries for 328 yards and two touchdowns while Douglas' numbers are at 64-272-2.
Gurley's Return Boosts Bulldogs
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 12 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 and was lost for the year. Gurley returned to action in the victory over Florida and finished with 187 all-purpose yards (100 rushing, 87 receiving) and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving). In the win over #6 LSU, Gurley had eight carries for 73 yards (9.1 avg.) before leaving early in the second quarter. For the year, Gurley is averaging 104.2 yds/g as he has tallied 625 yards on 101 attempts.
2012 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
2013 Game-By-Game (Attempts-Yards-Touchdowns)
Big Guys Up Front
Georgia's starting unit for the offensive line for the last two games has been: 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. The unit has kept the Bulldogs at No. 4 in the SEC in total offense (478.6/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.
Georgia's offensive line has surrendered just five sacks in the last seven games after allowing six in the first two contests.
Here's a look at Georgia's offensive production this year:
Targeting New Receivers
One of the keys to Aaron Murray's success has been his passing efficiency, and his ability to spread the ball around. Georgia has had a different leading receiver in five of its nine games this year. In the Bulldogs' latest win over Appalachian State, 13 different receivers had receptions. 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. Against Vanderbilt, junior Chris Conley sustained an ankle injury in the game's final play and did not play against Florida and the Mountaineers. Conley leads the team with 30 rec. for 418 yds. and four touchdowns.
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 against the Volunteers. Against the Mountaineers, he posted the first 100-yard game of his career after finishing with four catches for 104 yards and a score. 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.
In the third straight victory over the Gators, Bennett returned to action after missing two games and led the team with five catches for 59 yards. Bennett again led the Bulldogs against Appalachian State with five catches for 87 yards and his second touchdown of the year.
Also in the win over the Mountaineers, junior Jonathon Rumph hauled in his first career catch and completed the game with four catches for 98 yards. 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 receiving leaders last year, Malcolm Mitchell, went down with an ACL injury against #8 Clemson and is out for the year.
McGowan Delivers For The Bulldogs
A quick glance at the final statistics from Georgia's win over Florida shows Bulldog senior Rhett McGowan tallied three catches for 43 yards. Fans in attendance at EverBank Field and the millions watching know just how crucial each one of those receptions turned out to be for the Bulldogs. His 23-yard reception in the closing seconds of the first half gave the Bulldogs a first down and allowed them to kick a 32-yard field goal to make it 23-3. McGowan's other two receptions came in Georgia's last drive that ran out the final eight minutes and 17 seconds of the game, including a huge seven-yard grab for a first down on a third and seven play. McGowan's second of three catches against Florida set a Bulldog record for Aaron Murray as it was his 850th career completion.
Georgia ranks second in the league in passing offense (297.7/g) and Auburn is 11th in the SEC in passing defense (238.8/g). However, the Tigers are the conference's fourth-best team with 11 interceptions on the year.
In Defense Of The Defense
Although Georgia ranks ninth in the SEC in Scoring Defense at 28.8 points a game, the Bulldogs have surrendered four TDs on Special Teams this year. Also, miscues on Offense and other Special Teams mistakes have resulted in eight additional TD-Drives that have covered 36 yards or less. Also, the Bulldogs gave up a safety to the Gators and the ensuing kickoff resulted in a 50-yard touchdown drive and a two-point conversion. Georgia has executed a fake punt at #8 Clemson and a successful onside kick in the win over #6 South Carolina.
Results After Turnovers Gave Opponent A Short Field
Linebacker Duo Leading The Defense
Junior ILB Ramik Wilson leads the SEC in tackles with 92 (10.2/g). Wilson's best career performance came against Tennessee earlier this year. 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, ranks fourth in the SEC with 79 stops (8.8/g). Herrera also collected his first interception of the year (second of his career) against Appalachian State. There have been two Bulldogs to lead the SEC in tackles (Whit Marshall, 1995, 128; Rennie Curran, 2009, 130). Newcomer OLB Leonard Floyd is another playmaker as he leads all SEC freshmen with 5.5 sacks. He has 34 tackles so far. Sophomore OLB Jordan Jenkins, who leads the team with nine for tackles for loss, complemented his three tackles against Appalachian State with a blocked field goal and a fumble recovery.
Sacking The Opposition
Georgia ranks second in the SEC with 26 sacks on the season, including 21 in the last six games. Senior N Garrison Smith exploded for 2.5 sacks against the Gators during career performance that featured nine stops. Smith had 1.5 sacks on the year coming into the Florida game and only one his first three years. For his effort, Smith was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for the second time in his career (Georgia Tech, 2011).
Mauger, Wiggins Get The Nod
True freshmen Quincy Mauger (FS) and Shaq Wiggins (CB) have started the last five games, giving the Bulldogs their fourth different starting lineup in the defensive backfield this year. Mauger and Wiggins responded by combining for 13 tackles against the Vols plus 10 more versus #25 Missouri.
Wiggins made his first career interception a memorable one, returning it 39 yards for a touchdown at Vanderbilt. It marked only the second INT of the year for Georgia and gave the Bulldogs a 17-14 lead with 6:24 left in the first half. 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 fifth on the team in tackles with 44 tackles. He went down with a right foot injury in the second quarter against Vanderbilt but returned against the Gators and had five tackles.
Stout Opposition For The Bulldogs
Four of Georgia's opponents this season have been eighth-ranked Clemson, sixth-ranked South Carolina, sixth-ranked LSU and 25th-ranked Missouri, and the Bulldogs went 2-2 against these ranked squads. A fourth top-10 opponent is on deck this week when the Bulldogs travel back to No. 7 Auburn for the second straight year. A Georgia win would mark the first time since 1966 that the Bulldogs would have posted three wins over top-10 opponents in the same season.
Did You Know? The Bulldogs held Missouri scoreless in the third period, marking the first quarter all year that the Tigers 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.
Third Down Stops
One area the Bulldogs hope to continue to improve on is third down defense. The Bulldogs are 11th in the SEC in the category allowing opponents to convert on third down 42 percent of the time. Offensively, Georgia ranks 10th in the SEC with a 40 percent success rate on third down conversions.
Smith, Drew Anchoring Defensive Front
Smith leads this group and is third on the team with 47 tackles after setting a career high with nine in the win over Florida. Against the Vols, Drew rose to the occasion with five tackles, including a career-high two sacks, before adding another two sacks against #25 Missouri. Drew came into the year with 0.5 sacks and now has five this season.
Redshirt sophomore N Chris Mayes has seen more action of late, starting the last three games, and posted a career-high six tackles against Vanderbilt.
SPECIAL TEAMS AT A GLANCE
A Look At The Specialists
Sophomores Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber have been the starters the past two seasons at place kicker and punter. Morgan is No. 2 in the SEC in scoring average at 10.0 pts/game and has been named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award and the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week three times this year. He is 14-for-16 on field goal attempts this year (misses were from 52 vs. North Texas, 39 @ Tennessee), including a career-long 56-yarder that is tied for the nation's longest in 2013. His 56-yarder versus Tennessee this year 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 then won the UT game with a 42-yarder in overtime. It marked the first game-winner by a Bulldog since 2009 (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. He is one of four Bulldogs to make FGs of 55 or longer twice in a season. Morgan joins Rex Robinson (1980), Kevin Butler (1984) and Brandon Coutu (2005). Morgan is 4-for-7 in his career from 50 yards or longer.
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 #6 South Carolina) during the first two games. He was lined up to attempt another 19- yard field goal against #8 Clemson, but a high snap caused a fumble and loss of six yards.
Barber ranks fourth in the SEC in punting at 45.0 on 25 punts. He 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 Missouri for a 40.5 average while Barber's two averaged 32.0 yards. Redshirt sophomore Nathan Theus has assumed the role as the Bulldogs' snapper this season.
The Return Men
Six Bulldogs have returned kicks this year for an average of 16.2/yds, including the longest by Sheldon Dawson for 29 yards against Florida. True freshman Reggie Davis has four returns for 69 yards. In the punt return game, junior CB Damian Swann has nine returns for 28 yards while Davis has nine for 44 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.
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. Twelve Bulldog starters have missed game time because of injuries and three on offense are out for 2013.
Out For The Year
Injured Starters This Season: Game(s) Missed
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 35 players on the active NFL rosters. In addition, Georgia has six players who are either on the injured-reserve or practice squads and five who play in the Canadian Football League.
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). Ten of the 14 true freshmen play defense.
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