Bulldogs Return Home To Face Mountaineers
Nov. 4, 2013
Game 9: Georgia (5-3, 4-2 SEC) vs. Appalachian State (2-7, 2-4 SoCon)
Homecoming and Veterans Day Recognition
On Saturday, Georgia will celebrate Homecoming. Since 1922, Georgia is 72-17-2 in Homecoming contests. Last year, Georgia cruised to a 37-10 win over Ole Miss on Homecoming. The Bulldogs went 6-1 in Homecoming games at Sanford Field (1922-28) before moving to their current home in Sanford Stadium. In records dating back to 1922, Georgia has outscored its Homecoming opponents 2,369 to 1,118. Along with the game, the traditions include a Friday afternoon parade and former Redcoat Band members and UGA cheerleaders performing with the current squads during the game and at halftime. The Bulldogs will have a Veterans Day recognition as well.
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. The only season that featured more was in 2006 when Georgia had six of these and went 4-2.
Most recently, Georgia preserved a three-point victory over Florida in Jacksonville by running out the final eight minutes and 17 seconds. The Bulldogs built a 23-3 lead but were outscored 17-0 in the second half. It marked the first time Georgia was blanked in the second half since the 2011 SEC Championship game against top-ranked LSU.
A Look At ASU Last Week
The Mountaineers (2-7) were shocked by Chattanooga at home last Saturday 35-28. Chattanooga scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, capped by a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown for the victory. ASU freshman running back Marcus Cox rushed for 158 yards on 29 carries (5.4 avg.) with three touchdowns. This will be the first meeting between the Bulldogs and the Mountaineers on the gridiron.
SEC Record Watch For TD Passes
Senior quarterback Aaron Murray has another SEC career record that is within reach Saturday. He has already set the SEC's all-time mark in Total Offense (12,591) and Passing Yards (12,287). Currently, he ranks second in Touchdown Passes. The SEC record for Career TD passes is 114 by Danny Wuerffel (Florida 1993-96). Murray has 113 TD passes entering the Appalachian State game.
2013 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Features A Bulldog & Mountaineer
Murray and Appalachian State senior WR Tony Washington are among this year's 16-member class to be named a National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athlete. Murray is the 13th Bulldog in school history to be named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete while Washington is the first for ASU. They were selected from a nationwide pool of 171 semifinalists from all NCAA divisions and the NAIA. Each member of the 2013 National Scholar-Athlete Class will travel to New York City to be honored December 10 during the 56th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. They each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and one member of the class will also be announced live at the event as the 24th recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.
Gurley, Bennett Return To Lineup
Georgia is hopeful to have freshman safety Tray Matthews (hamstring) and junior receiver Chris Conley (ankle) back for its game against the Mountaineers after sophomore tailback Todd Gurley (ankle) and junior receiver Michael Bennett (knee) rejoined the team during the win over Florida. During the losses to Vanderbilt and Missouri, the Bulldogs were without their top two tailbacks, three of their top four receivers and one of their starting safeties. During the game at Tennessee, the Bulldogs lost tailback Keith Marshall (ACL) and receivers Justin Scott-Wesley (ACL) and Michael Bennett to right knee injuries. Junior receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who was the team's second-leading receiver last year (40 rec., 572 yds., 4 TDs), also sustained a season-ending ACL injury in the season opener at #8 Clemson.
Under the direction of Mark Richt, Georgia owns a 50-9 record against teams from outside the Southeastern Conference, including 35-1 at home. The Bulldogs topped North Texas 45-21 during the third game of the 2013 season and opened the year with a loss to #8 Clemson.
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 80 (10.0/g) and Herrera is fourth with 72 stops. Wilson has led the team in tackles five 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-six in turnover margin this year, which ranks 13th in the SEC. Meanwhile, Appalachian State is minus-three on the year. Last time out, the Bulldogs lost one fumble against the Gators and did not force any turnovers. The Mountaineers had one interception and gave up one pick in their contest against Chattanooga.
Comfortable Around 4th Down Territory
Georgia has not been afraid to go for it on fourth down this season as it ranks third in the SEC with a 67% conversion rate at 8-for-12. Last year, Georgia was 4-for-9 (44%) on fourth down attempts. Georgia's opponents have been successful 64% of the time on fourth down this season at 9-for-14, which ranks 10th.
ON DECK: @ #7 Auburn
The Bulldogs travel to Auburn for the second consecutive 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 at a neutral site during a stretch from 1930-58. The series began in 1898 and the first 10 were played in Atlanta. There were also meetings in Montgomery, Savannah, Athens and Columbus before games on each team's respective campuses since 1959.
Murray Closing In On Third SEC Career Record
Senior QB Aaron Murray has set two SEC records this season and is on the verge of setting another. The Tampa, Fla., native set the league record for career total offense in the first quarter of the Vanderbilt game. Murray's 12,591 yards have 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 12,287 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. He is now taking undergraduate classes towards another degree.
In his 33 wins as a starter, Murray has 89 TDs to just 18 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (12,591), completions (851), TD responsibility (127), TD passes (113) and passing yards (12,287, No. 2 nationally among active FBS QBs).
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)
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.
Playing the featured back role and serving as one of the backups this season, the 5-9, 183-pound Green has 50 carries for 327 yards (6.5 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.
The 5-11, 202-pound Douglas finished with a career-high 84 yards on 17 carries against Vanderbilt and has 58 carries for 254 yards (4.4). They have proven to be capable options in the passing game too. Douglas picked up his first career TD reception against the #25 Missouri, 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 rushing on 17 attempts.
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 after carrying the ball five times for 33 yards. 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 110.0 yds/g as he has tallied 550 yards on 88 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
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. 5 in the SEC in total offense (467.4/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. Theus also started at RT against the Gators. Georgia's offensive line has only allowed five sacks in the last six 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:
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 eight games this year. 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. 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. 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. Additionally, TB Todd Gurley snagged a 73-yard touchdown catch and finished with a career-high 87 yards to help sink Florida.
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 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 last week 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. A former walk-on from Calhoun, McGowan made his second career start this past Saturday. 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. His 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. Murray currently has 851 career completions, which is fourth in SEC history.
In Defense Of The Defense
Although Georgia ranks 14th in the SEC in Scoring Defense at 31.6 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
#8 CU: 16-yard TD drive after Fumble; Tigers tie game at 21 with 3:51 in 2nd qtr.
Linebacker Duo Leading The Defense
Junior ILB Ramik Wilson leads the SEC in tackles with 80 (10.0/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 72 stops (9.0/g). There have been two Bulldogs to lead the SEC in tackles (Whit Marshall, 1995, 128; Rennie Curran, 2009, 130).
Sacking The Opposition
Georgia ranks second in the SEC with 23 sacks on the season, including 18 in the last five 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.
Mauger, Wiggins Get The Nod
True freshmen Quincy Mauger (FS) and Shaq Wiggins (CB) have started the last four games, giving the Bulldogs their fourth different starting lineup in the defensive backfield in eight games. 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 have 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 fourth on the team in tackles with 42 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 the horizon when the Bulldogs travel back to No. 7 Auburn for the second straight year on Nov. 16.
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.
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 12th in the SEC in the category allowing opponents to convert on third down 43 percent of the time. Offensively, Georgia ranks 11th in the SEC with a 39 percent success rate on third down conversions.
Smith, Drew Anchoring Defensive Front
Smith leads this group and is third on the team with 44 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 two games, and posted a career-high six tackles against Vanderbilt
SPECIAL TEAMS AT A GLANCE
A Look At The Specialists
Morgan is the SEC leader in scoring average at 10.2 pts/game and has been named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award. He is 13-for-15 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 on Georgia's first possession against Tennessee helped him to be 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 then 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. Morgan got his first career SEC weekly honor following this performance. 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 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 ranks fourth in the SEC in punting at 45.1 on 24 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
Five Bulldogs have returned kicks this year for an average of 18.5/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 eight for 46 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. Eleven Bulldog players 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
Todd Gurley, TB (Ankle), 2nd half of LSU; UT, MU, VU
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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