Game Notes: Georgia vs. South Carolina
Oct. 1, 2012
Game 6: #5 Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) @ #6 South Carolina (5-0, 3-0 SEC)
The Bulldog-Gamecock Matchup
For the first time in the Georgia-South Carolina series, both teams are ranked in the top 10 coming into the matchup. The previous best came in 1980 when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 4 and the Gamecocks were No. 14. Georgia won that day in Athens 13-10.
The Bulldogs enter this game leading the SEC in scoring offense (48.2 pts./g). The Aggies are also averaging 48.2 points a game in their four contests this year. South Carolina is ranked second in the SEC in scoring defense as opponents' have averaged just 11.2 pts./g. In fact, the Gamecocks have only surrendered five touchdowns all year. Georgia has scored 32 touchdowns during its five victories. South Carolina is sixth in scoring offense (36.6 pts./g) while the Bulldogs are seventh in scoring defense (22.0 pts./g).
Georgia is No. 5 in this week's AP and USA Today polls for the second consecutive week. This is the Bulldogs' top ranking since 2008. UGA will be aiming for its first 6-0 start since the 2005 SEC championship season. That year, the Bulldogs began 7-0 and went on to beat LSU 34-14 for the SEC crown. Since Mark Richt took over as head coach in 2001, Georgia has started the season 6-0 twice, including the Bulldogs' 8-0 start to the 2002 season. The Bulldogs also won the SEC that year, beating Arkansas in the Championship game. UGA followed that up by topping Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
A Glance At The Georgia-South Carolina Series History
South Carolina had been Georgia's first SEC opponent since the Gamecocks joined the league in 1992. This streak ended in 2012 as the Bulldogs traveled to Columbia, Mo., to face one of the SEC's newest members, Missouri. The Bulldogs were 13-6 in those season-opening games versus South Carolina, including 7-3 under Mark Richt. Seven of the 10 games between these teams under Richt have been decided by seven points or less with Georgia winning six of them. Georgia holds a 46-15-2 edge in the series history.
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 five 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 that performance with 567 yards versus the Commodores and 560 against Tennessee. Georgia scored 51 points in the first three quarters in its latest win over Tennessee. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 241-110. Georgia has scored a touchdown on its opening possession in four of its first five games this year. The one exception was the Missouri game.
The 2002 SEC Champion Bulldogs featured the league's best defense too, surrendering just 15.1 points a game. Georgia's 2012 defense has key second half adjustments and forced turnovers when the game's outcome has been on the line. For example, the Bulldogs blanked Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt in the second half. Last week after Tennessee scored 30 points in the first two quarters, the Vols were limited to 14 points in the second half and the Bulldogs forced Tennessee into turnovers during UT's last three possessions. For the year, Bulldog opponents have scored 37 points in the second half and one touchdown came on an interception return.
Top-10 Meetings Under Mark Richt
Under Mark Richt, the Bulldogs are 3-4 in top-10 matchups. Georgia is 1-1 in an opponent's home stadium. Also of note, the Bulldogs' last win over a top-10 team on the road came in 2009 when unranked Georgia beat #7 Georgia Tech 30-24.
10/12/2002 - #6 Georgia d. #10 Tennessee, 18-13 (Athens)
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.
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 15 consecutive regular season games following its five victories in 2012. The streak ranks as the secondlongest active regular season winning streak in the nation behind LSU (18).
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.
Georgia's record when ESPN GameDay is on-site is 3-9. However, all three of the Bulldog victories came in true road games. Georgia is 3-3 in an opponent's stadium, 0-3 in Jacksonville, 0-2 at home and 0-1 at the 2011 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. The Bulldogs' last win with GameDay on-site came in Tuscaloosa in 2007 when #22 Georgia upset #16 Alabama 26-23 in overtime. In 2004, #3 Georgia beat South Carolina 20-16 in Columbia with GameDay in attendance.
OFFENSE 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 21 wins as a starter, Murray has 51 TDs to just 12 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (7,846), completions (535), TD responsibility (80, which is 11th in SEC history), TD passes (71) and passing yards (7,576).
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 71 after having a pair of scoring strikes versus Tennessee. He started the Vanderbilt 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), and finished 18-for-24 for 250 yards. Murray was recently named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works team, which honors 11 FBS players nationwide for their outstanding community service record.
Sundaes On Sunday
For the third 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 both the Commodores and the Volunteers and bought his linemen another two rounds of ice cream for the unit's sound production. Georgia has finished with at least 560 yards of total offense in the last three games as the team has scored 40+ points in its fifth 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. 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 five consecutive games
Weapons Of Mass Reception
Georgia has had three different 100-yard receivers in four out of five games this season. The balanced attack features two receivers with at least 300 yards and three with at least three touchdowns each. Most recently, redshirt sophomore SE Michael Bennett moved into the team lead with four scores after he grabbed a pair of touchdowns against Tennessee. He leads the Bulldogs in the category with 24 catches for 345 yards this year. Bennett had four receptions for 110 yards, including a career-long 67-yard touchdown, in the win over Florida Atlantic.
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 scores at Missouri. 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 second on the team with three TD catches. King opened the season with a 117-yard game that included a score versus Buffalo. Already having graduated in Social Studies Education, he is No. 2 out of active players in the SEC in receiving yards (1,959), third in receptions (110) and tied for third in TD receptions (15).
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 started the last the next three games at CB, has had six punt returns for 35 yards, has caught six passes for 74 yards and has registered two rushes. In 2011, Mitchell lined up at SE and earned All-SEC Freshman honors after finishing with 45 catches for 665 yards and four touchdowns.
Gurley & Marshall = 'Gurshall'
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. This season, true freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who wear No. 3 and 4 respectively, have been nicknamed 'Gurshall' by senior receiver Tavarres King.
Most recently, the pair combined for 294 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Marshall averaged 16.4 yds./carry versus the Volunteers, tallying a career-best 164 yards and two touchdowns while Gurley equaled his career high with 130 yards and three scores. Gurley leads the SEC in four categories, including rushing per game (107.2 yds./g) and scoring this season with 60 points.
Gurley, a Tarboro, N.C., native, and Marshall, a Raleigh, N.C., native, are roommates. Gurley has already been named the SEC Freshman of the Week twice through five games.
DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS
Georgia has made excellent second-half adjustments as opponents have scored just 37 points in the second half, and one touchdown came on an interception return. The Bulldogs have posted second half shutouts against Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt while Tennessee scored 14 last week. Georgia forced turnovers on the Volunteers' final three possessions in the 51-44 win. In the Bulldogs' road game 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 quickstrike scores of 41 and 69 yards. Both of the drives mentioned above were three plays each that were under 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:
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. He is the current active career NCAA leader in sacks at 1.0/g. This season, he has 32 tackles, including 4.5 sacks and 8.0 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.
Two Standouts Return
Junior ILB Alec Ogletree led the Bulldogs with a career-high 14 tackles and a tipped pass that led to an interception versus Tennessee last week. It was his first action of the season and marked his fourth career game with at least 10 tackles. Meanwhile, senior All-American safety Bacarri Rambo, who also made his season debut against the Vols, was second on the team with nine stops. Rambo was second nationally in 2011 with an SEC-best eight picks.
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 36 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. Versus the Volunteers, Jenkins posted a sack and a forced fumble late in the final period with Tennessee in line for a potential game-tying drive at the Georgia 35-yard line.
Secondary Responds To The Test
The Bulldogs' secondary was tested heavily this past Saturday versus Tennessee. The Volunteers featured the SEC's top passing attack, the league's leading receiver and an offensive line that had surrendered just two sacks this year. UT QB Tyler Bray finished 24-of-45 for 281 yards with one sack and was picked off three times.
Senior CB Sanders Commings had two interceptions in the final 6:00 to extinguish any Tennessee rally. He is the first Bulldog since Bacarri Rambo to have a pair of picks in a game since 2011. Sophomore CB Damian Swann also recorded his first career interception in the victory over the Vols. Senior SS Shawn Williams has also been a constant for the Bulldogs and ranks second on the team in tackles with 35.
Prior to the Tennessee game, both of Georgia's interceptions had come from Bulldog linebackers. However, Georgia's secondary snagged three versus the Vols after the unit accounted for 18 of the team's 20 a year ago.
Big Guys Around The Ball
Georgia has an opposing frontline with senior N John Jenkins, a 6-3, 358-pound native of Meriden, Conn., and junior N Kwame Geathers, a 6-6, 355-pound native of Georgetown, S.C. They are flanked by seniors Abry Jones (6-3, 308) and Cornelius Washington (6-4, 268) at the DE spots. Jenkins is coming off a performance where he recovered a fumble late in the final period with the Volunteers attempting to tie the game. Junior DE Garrison Smith (6-3, 297) leads the group with 18 tackles and most recently registered six stops versus Tennessee. Jenkins is next with 15 tackles. Also, Geathers blocked a PAT against Florida Atlantic to add to the frontline's threat.
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 39 points. He has hit 4-of-5 field goals (including hitting both from 50+) and connected on 27-of-30 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 39.8 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. 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.
Georgia's primary punt returner for this week's game at #6 South Carolina will be junior Rhett McGowan. He has two returns for 42 yards and is one of four Bulldogs to return punts this season along with sophomore Malcolm Mitchell and sophomore Damian Swann.
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. Senior SN Ty Frix was recently named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy. This honor recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
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