Game Notes: Georgia vs. Tennessee
Sept. 24, 2012
Game 5: #5 Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) vs. Tennessee (3-1, 0-1 SEC)
The Bulldog-Volunteer Matchup
Fifth-ranked Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) welcomes Tennessee to Sanford Stadium Saturday as the Bulldogs continue a stretch of seven straight conference games.
Last Saturday, Georgia defeated Vanderbilt 48-3 in Athens while the Volunteers (3-1, 0-1 SEC) pulled away late against Akron and posted a 47-26 victory. Georgia and Tennessee rank 1-2 in total offense in the SEC, averaging more than 500 yards a game. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in scoring offense at 47.5 points a game while Tennessee ranks fifth at 38.2. The Volunteers have the league's top-rated passing offense at 341.2 yards a game while Georgia is third at 287.5. In scoring defense, Georgia ranks seventh (16.5) while Tennessee is 10th (24.2).
Georgia is No. 5 in this week's AP and USA Today polls. This is the Bulldogs' top ranking since 2008. UGA will be aiming for its first 5-0 start since 2006. Since Mark Richt took over as head coach in 2001, Georgia has started the season 5-0 three different times, including the Bulldogs' 7-0 to start the 2005 SEC Championship season.
A Glance At The Georgia-Tennessee Series History
The Bulldogs have won three out of their last four games versus Tennessee in a matchup that dates back to 1899. A 1-1-1 record through the teams' first three meetings helps give an idea of how close this series has been. Georgia trails all-time 18-21-2. In 2011, the Bulldogs picked up a 20-12 victory in Knoxville. Malcolm Mitchell had a game high 126 yards receiving on three catches as the Georgia defense held the Vols to minus-20 yards rushing. The Bulldogs cruised to a 41-14 win the last time the teams squared off in Sanford Stadium in 2010. QB Aaron Murray threw for a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another two to highlight Georgia's performance.
Proving Its Point(s)
Georgia is on pace to set a school record for scoring in a season. In 1946, Georgia averaged an SEC-best 37.2 points a game when it was a 10-game season. The modern mark for the Bulldogs is 32.1 set in 2002 when they led the SEC, scoring 450 points in 14 games, going 13-1 and winning SEC and Sugar Bowl titles. This season, Georgia has scored 40-plus points in four consecutive games for the first time in school history. After piling up a school record 713 yards of total offense in the win over Florida Atlantic, the Bulldogs followed up with 567 yards in cruising past the Commodores.
Georgia scored 45 points versus Buffalo during the first game of 2012 and then had a 32-point outburst in the second half against Missouri for a 41-20 win. Georgia outscored Florida Atlantic 42-6 in the final three quarters and topped the Owls 56-20. Against the Commodores, the Bulldogs went up 27-0 and only surrendered a second quarter field goal during the 48-3 rout. The Bulldogs have scored 190 points to their opponents' 66 this season.
The 2002 SEC Champion Bulldogs featured the league's best defense too, surrendering just 15.1 points a game. Georgia's 2012 defense this year has smothered opponents. The last two opponents have been shut out after halftime. For the year, Bulldog opponents have scored 23 points in the second half and one touchdown came on an interception return. Top-ranked Alabama leads the conference in scoring defense at 5.2 followed by sixth-ranked South Carolina at 9.8.
Georgia Among Best in the SEC Under Richt Since 2001
Another Bulldog Named To AFCA Good Works
Junior QB Aaron Murray was recently named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works team, which honors 11 FBS players nationwide for their outstanding community service record. The Bulldogs have now had three members on the AFCA team in the last four years.
Jones Welcomes Missouri In His Own Way
Junior OLB Jarvis Jones returned to the lineup against Vanderbilt and added another sack and seven tackles after missing the Florida Atlantic game with a groin injury. He had a dominating performance at Missouri two weeks ago that caught the nation's attention. Jones exploded for nine tackles, including two sacks/tackles for loss, his first career interception, two forced fumbles and five quarterback pressures to pace the Bulldog defense during the 41-20 rout of the Tigers. The Columbus, Ga., native has 17.5 sacks over his last 17 games.
On A Regular Season Roll
During the 2011 season, Georgia went on a 10- game winning streak. This was the longest in-season winning streak since the 1982 team under Vince Dooley went a perfect 11-0 during the regular season. Georgia has now won 14 consecutive regular season games following its four victories in 2012. The streak ranks as the second-longest active regular season winning streak in the nation behind LSU (17). This is the longest regular season winning streak for the Bulldogs under Mark Richt. UGA won 11 straight games over two seasons once before, winning the final seven in 2007 and the first four in 2008.
ON DECK: South Carolina
For the first time since the 1991 season, the Bulldogs will face South Carolina in a game that is not Georgia's SEC season opener. The Bulldogs own a 46-16-2 edge on the Gamecocks all-time, but have dropped their last two contests. Last year, USC returned an interception for a touchdown and scored on a fumble recovery to highlight its 45-42 win in Athens.
Murray Setting The Tone For SEC Quarterbacks
Junior QB Aaron Murray is one of the nation's elite at his position. During the offseason, Murray graduated with a degree in Psychology after posting a GPA of 3.4 and is now in graduate school. In his 20 wins as a starter, Murray has 49 TDs to just 11 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (7,569), completions (516), TD responsibility (78, which is tied for 11th in SEC history), TD passes (69) and passing yards (7,290).
In the road win over Missouri, Murray tied his career high in completions with 22. Against FAU, he tallied a career-high 342 yards. Murray moved into second on the school's all-time career TD pass list with 69 after having a pair of scoring strikes versus Vanderbilt. He started the game 12-for-12, which is No. 3 on Georgia's all-time list behind 15 (Quincy Carter vs. LSU, 1998; Eric Zeier vs. Georgia Tech, 1993).
Murray was recently named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works team, which honors 11 FBS players nationwide for their outstanding community service record. The Bulldogs have now had three members on the AFCA team in the last four years.
Sundaes On Sunday
For the second consecutive week, QB Aaron Murray treated his offensive line to ice cream to thank them for protecting him so soundly. Murray first treated the line a day after the Bulldogs allowed no sacks and tallied a school record 713 total yards versus Florida Atlantic. Murray was sacked once against the Commodores, but went back to the huddle, took the blame for the sack and promised his crew another round of ice cream on Sunday. Georgia finished with 567 yards versus Vanderbilt as the team scored 40+ points in its fourth consecutive game for the first time in school history.
Georgia's starting offensive line this season has featured junior Kenarious Gates at LT, junior Chris Burnette at RG, junior Dallas Lee at LG, sophomore David Andrews at C and freshman John Theus at RT. Lee left the Florida Atlantic game with an ankle injury. Mark Beard relieved Lee, but switched to LT and Gates took over the LG spot. Andrews and Theus made their first career starts versus Buffalo while Gates lined up at LT against the Bulls for the first time after having 12 previous starts at guard. Theus became the first true freshman starter at tackle since Trinton Sturdivant in 2007.
Here's a look at Georgia's offensive production this year:
*school record, tied No. 6 in SEC history; ^first time in school history that the Bulldogs have scored 40+ points in four consecutive games
Weapons Of Mass Reception
Georgia has had three different 100-yard receivers and one in all four games this season. The balanced attack features three receivers with at least 260 yards and two touchdowns each. Most recently, senior SE Marlon Brown grabbed five catches for 114 yards and a touchdown versus Vanderbilt. This marks his second 100-yard game for the season after hauling in eight balls for 106 yards and two touchdowns at Missouri.
Redshirt sophomore SE Michael Bennett leads the Bulldogs in the category with 19 catches for 275 yards and two scores this year. He had four receptions for 110 yards, including a career-long 67-yard touchdown, in the win over Florida Atlantic.
Georgia's third aerial weapon is senior FLK Tavarres King. While recording four receptions for 58 yards and a score against the Commodores, King is tied with Brown for the team lead with three TD catches. King opened the season with a 117-yard game that included a touchdown versus Buffalo. King, who has already graduated in Social Studies Education, is the SEC's active leader in receiving yards (1,921) and is third in receptions (108).
Rushing To Judgement
Althought the Bulldogs have played only four games, Georgia is averaging 242.5 yards rushing (3rd in the SEC). In fact, true freshman TB Todd Gurley leads the SEC in rushing (101.5) after piling up 406 yards (9.2/carry) and six touchdowns in 2012. Gurley is also the SEC leader in all-purpose yards at 657 (164.2/g) and is No. 1 in the league in scoring at 42 points. He is coming off the best game of his career as he tallied 130 yards and two scores on 16 carries and was named the SEC Freshman of the Week and the 247Sports National True Freshman of the Week. The Tarboro, N.C., native has already been named the SEC Freshman of the Week once this season and has a 100- yard kickoff return on his resume.
Gurley is not the Bulldogs' only true freshman weapon in the backfield. Gurley's roommate, Keith Marshall, has also added 264 yards rushing and three scores during the Bulldogs' four wins, including 100-yard performance versus FAU. Against the Commodores, Marshall had 10 carries for 83 yards and two touchdowns to help pace the scoring attack.
Malcolm In The Middle Of Everything
Sophomore Malcolm Mitchell is demonstrating his versatility this season. After sitting out the first game with an ankle injury, he has started the last three games at CB, has had five punt returns for 35 yards, has caught two passes for 43 yards and has registered one rush for 16 yards on a reverse. In 2011, Mitchell lined up at SE and earned All-SEC Freshman honors after finishing with 45 catches for 665 yards and four touchdowns.
DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS
Georgia has made excellent second-half adjustments as opponents have scored just 23 points in the second half, and one touchdown came on an interception return. The Bulldogs have posted second half shutouts in its last two games.
Georgia surrendered a total of 23 points to Buffalo in the season opener. It was a tale of two halves for the Bulldog defense. The Bulls had two touchdown drives that covered 75 yards each and one that covered 94 yards. Georgia did have a goal-line stand at the end of the opening half that resulted in a Buffalo field goal.
Against Missouri, Georgia blanked the Tigers in the first and fourth quarters and allowed 10 points each in the second and third quarters. Missouri's two touchdown drives were courtesy of quick-strike scores of 41 and 69 yards. Both of the drives mentioned above were three plays each that were shorter than a minute. After Georgia fell behind 17-9, the Bulldogs outscored Missouri 32-3 the rest of the way including 17-0 in the fourth quarter. Here's a look inside the numbers for the Georgia defense this season: 2012
SEC Sack Leader Jarvis Jones Is Back At It Junior OLB and 2011 Butkus Award finalist Jarvis Jones gives the Bulldogs a solid foundation at linebacker. This season, he has 24 tackles, including 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss, one interception and three forced fumbles, despite not playing versus Florida Atlantic (groin). Jones earned multiple national player of the week honors for his dominating performance at Missouri. A consensus All-American, he led the SEC and was tied for fifth nationally with 13.5 sacks (which was just a half sack off David Pollack's school record 14 set in 2002) last year.
Do You Know Amarlo?
Sophomore ILB Amarlo Herrera has burst onto the scene this season taking advantage of some playing time. Herrera is quickly becoming wellknown name throughout the Bulldog Nation as he is leading the team with 30 tackles. He registered a career-high 10 stops at Missouri and also topped the team with eight tackles against Vanderbilt. Herrera added a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown during the 56-20 win over Florida Atlantic. True freshman OLB Jordan Jenkins made his first career start with Jones out versus FAU. He had a career day against the Commodores with a pair of sacks. Senior ILB Michael Gilliard is also having a solid final season for the Bulldogs and is third on the team's tackles list with 25. Secondary Faces Stiff Test
The Bulldogs' secondary will be tested heavily this Saturday versus Tennessee as the Volunteers feature the SEC's top passing attack and the league's leading receiver. Tennessee leads the conference in passing yardage per game (341.2) with the top connection featuring Tyler Bray to junior Justin Hunter (30 rec., 410 yds., four TDs, 102.5/g). Last week, Georgia faced the SEC's second-leading receiver in Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews. Matthews finished with eight catches for 119 yards.
Georgia's secondary has featured senior CB Branden Smith and sophomore CB Damian Swann in all four games this season. Senior SS Shawn Williams has also been a constant for the Bulldogs while the FS position has featured redshirt sophomore Connor Norman and senior Sanders Commings. Sophomore Malcolm Mitchell has started the last three games at one of the CB spots after playing his first season on offense at SE. Both of Georgia's interceptions this season have come from linebackers after the Bulldog secondary accounted for 18 of the team's 20 a year ago. However, Georgia has been without All-American safety Bacarri Rambo who had an SEC-leading eight picks in 2011.
DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS
The First Line Of Defense
Senior N John Jenkins, a 6-3, 358-pound native of Meriden, Conn., tied his career high with six tackles versus Buffalo and added another five stops at Missouri. Jenkins is in his second season with the Bulldogs and is flanked by seniors Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington at the DE spots. Opening with four tackles against the Bulls, Washington tallied five stops at Missouri, including 2.5 tackles for loss. Junior DE Garrison Smith, who posted six stops of his own versus Buffalo, and junior N Kwame Geathers are also in the rotation up front. Geathers blocked a PAT against FAU to give the Bulldogs four in the Richt era.
The Bulldogs have a pair of true freshmen specialists. P Collin Barber of Cartersville, Ga., and PK Marshall Morgan of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., have replaced a couple of Bulldogs who are currently NFL starters (Drew Butler- Pittsburgh, Blair Walsh-Minnesota). Morgan ranks third in the SEC among kickers with 32 points. He has hit 3-of-4 field goals and connected on 23-of-24 extra points. His performance at Missouri included a 41-yard FG and a 52-yard FG, which is tied for the longest in the SEC this year. It also was the longest on for the Bulldogs on the road since Walsh drilled a 53 yarder in 2009 (Oklahoma State).
Barber lifted a 57-yard punt on his first try against Buffalo and is averaging 40.7 yds. this year. This season is the first since 1985 that Georgia opened with a punter and placekicker without any collegiate experience. That year, punter Cris Carpenter and placekicker Steve Crumley were redshirt freshman. Redshirt sophomore P Adam Erickson has recorded six "pooch" punts for the Bulldogs this season, averaging 35.8 yds/game. He had a career-long 46 yarder against Florida Atlantic. Erickson has placed four of his six attempts inside the 20-yard line.
The Return Men
Georgia has featured a couple of newcomers returning kickoffs and punts in 2012. Freshman TB Todd Gurley tied a school, SEC and NCAA record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter versus Buffalo. Gurley is third in the SEC in kickoff return average at 34.7. His record return came on the third time he touched the ball as a collegiate player. Gurley was named the College Football Performance Awards National Kickoff Returner of the Week and the SEC Freshman Player of the Week for his efforts. This was the first time the Bulldogs have had a 100-yard return since Brandon Boykin accomplished the feat versus Kentucky in 2010. Boykin had three of them in his career.
The Bulldogs have had 17 special teams touchdowns since Mark Richt took the head coaching job in 2001. While Missouri attempted to kick away from Gurley for most of the game, the Tarboro, N.C., native still had two returns for 65 yards against the Tigers.
CB Damian Swann had his first career punt return covering 30 yards versus Buffalo before having one return for 10 yards against Missouri. He had four fair catches in the game. Sophomore CB Malcolm Mitchell served as the primary punt returner against Vanderbilt and finished with three returns for 25 yards.
Another note in the punt return game, two regulars on offense have made significant contributions this season. Senior running back Richard Samuel thwarted Missouri's fake punt attempt in the fourth quarter. Samuel shed his block and tackled Tiger punter Trey Barrow to give the Bulldogs the ball at the Missouri 38 yard line. Sophomore FLK Chris Conley blocked a Buffalo punt to set up a 35-yard field goal. Conley's block was the 20th punt block in the Richt era.