Game Notes - Georgia vs. Auburn
Nov. 5, 2012
Game 10: Georgia (8-1, 6-1 SEC) vs. Auburn (2-7, 0-6 SEC)
SEC Hardware On The Line
Since the first year of SEC football (1933), the Georgia-Auburn rivalry has decided the conference fate of the teams 20 times, whether it was a division crown or overall title. The Bulldogs are 11-8-1 in these games. The 2002 Georgia-Auburn game marked the last time the Bulldogs were assured of a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game provided they beat the Tigers. Then seventh-ranked Georgia did just that, claiming a 24-21 victory on the Plains over No. 24 Auburn to finish 7-1 in the league. Meanwhile Arkansas beat LSU to represent the West. The Razorbacks, LSU and Auburn all ended up 5-3, but the Razorbacks came out ahead on the head-to-head tiebreakers. Georgia dispatched No. 22 Arkansas 30-3 to claim its first SEC title since 1982.
In 2004, eighth-ranked Georgia was 6-1 in the league and went to Auburn with a chance for a share of the Eastern Division crown against the then third-ranked Tigers who had already clinched the West. The Bulldogs did not control their destiny because of a loss to Tennessee. Auburn would post a 24-6 win over the Bulldogs while the Vols would punch their ticket to Atlanta the following weekend against Kentucky to claim the East outright at 7-1.
This marks the 116th 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, making this the 120th anniversary of the series. Georgia trails in the series 53-54-8 but has won five out of the last six. A quick look at the total points scored in this rivalry reveals that only 38 points separate the teams. Georgia has scored 1,854 points while Auburn has tallied 1,778. The Bulldogs dropped their 2010 contest at Auburn 49-31.
Last season, Georgia turned a 7-7 tie in the first quarter into a 45-7 rout. The Bulldogs piled up 304 yards rushing and quarterback Aaron Murray went 14-for-18 for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Jarvis Jones paced the defense with two sacks and Alec Ogletree picked up six tackles and a forced fumble.
Big Ones In The Georgia-Auburn Series
1933 (Columbus): Auburn beats Georgia 14-6, denying the Bulldogs an SEC title.
Aiming For SEC East Title
Georgia will be aiming to make its second straight trip to the SEC Championship Game and fifth overall, all under Mark Richt. The Championship Game has been around since 1992 when the league expanded to 12 members with the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina. This year's game is scheduled for Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. on CBS in the Georgia Dome.
Familiar Faces On Tiger Sideline
Two former Georgia defensive coordinators are now on Auburn's staff in Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder and Secondary Coach Willie Martinez. The Bulldogs won the 2002 SEC title with VanGorder running the defense while Martinez was leading the defense during Georgia's 2005 conference championship. VanGorder's daughter, Morgan, is a senior runner on Georgia's cross country and track and field teams.
Jones, Murray Semifinalists For National Awards
Junior OLB Jarvis Jones and junior QB Aaron Murray have been included as semifinalists for a variety of national awards. Jones, a two-time Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week this season, is a semifinalist for the Bednarik, Maxwell, Butkus and Rotary Lombardi awards and is a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy. Murray is a Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist and a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm. Murray was also named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after his performance versus Ole Miss, marking his second honor of this kind in 2012.
Catching Everything But A Break
For the second time this season, the Bulldogs have lost a receiver to an ACL injury. First, it was redshirt sophomore Michael Bennett during the week leading up to the South Carolina game. Most recently it was senior Marlon Brown during the Ole Miss game. Bennett had 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns while Brown, who shares the team lead in receptions, had 27 catches for 469 yards and four scores. Also, Georgia has been without senior DE Abry Jones for the last three contests after he injured his ankle in the opening quarter at Kentucky.
The Bulldogs rank third nationally forcing 50 3-and-outs this season. That is an average of 5.5/game. Florida State leads with 6.6 and TCU is averaging 6.22. Georgia and Wisconsin are next with top-ranked Alabama and Missouri rounding out the top five at 5.44.
Murray Directs Bulldog Offense
Junior QB Aaron Murray is one of the nation's elite at his position. The Tampa, Fla., native has been named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. Currently, Murray ranks second in the SEC in passing efficiency at 168.9. 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 24 wins as a starter, Murray has 60 TDs to just 15 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (8,873), completions (610), TD responsibility (90, which is tied for fifth in SEC history), TD passes (80, which is 6th in SEC history) and passing yards (8,646).
Murray reached 80 career touchdowns during an efficient performance versus Ole Miss (21-for-28, 384, 4) where he was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week. He tossed his school record 76th touchdown pass of his career to lead Georgia to a 17-9 upset of #3 Florida in his home state. Murray had a school record-setting performance in the road win over Kentucky. He finished with the best completion percentage in a game (30-of-38, 79 percent) and a career-high 427 passing yards and four touchdowns. Another example of his efficiency came against Vanderbilt this year as 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), and finished 18-for-24 for 250 yards.
Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Active Career Leaders List
A Look At The Line
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. The unit did not give up any sacks versus #3 Florida and helped give the Bulldogs their sixth 100-yard rusher in 2012, and the first that the Gators had allowed this year. 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 OT since Trinton Sturdivant in 2007. In the last three games, sophomore Mark Beard has seen some action at LT when Gates has moved to LG.
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 scored 40+ points in five consecutive games
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 next three games at CB and has played on offense in the last five contests. On defense, he has recorded 12 tackles while on offense, the Valdosta native has hauled in 26 catches for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
Mitchell led the team against the Gators with five catches for 74 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown reception to clinch the victory. He was coming off a nine-catch performance at Kentucky as he posted the second 100-yard game of his career with 103 yards.
Mitchell also has 11 kick returns for 236 yards and 10 punt returns for 50 yards. Here is where Mitchell has spent his 434 snaps this season:
Defense - 178 snaps
Assortment Of Dangerous Targets
Georgia has had four different 100-yard receivers in five games this season as junior Aaron Murray likes to spread the ball around. And the Bulldogs are lucky Murray does spread it around since Georgia lost their second receiver of the season to an ACL injury when Marlon Brown went down against Ole Miss. In fact, he completed passes to 11 different Bulldogs in the win over Ole Miss as four different players caught touchdown passes. The Bulldogs leaders in the corps who are healthy are senior Tavarres King and sophomore Malcolm Mitchell. Georgia lost sophomore Michael Bennett (24 rec., 345 yds., 4 TDs) after he tore his ACL before the South Carolina game.
Mitchell led the attack in the upset of #3 Florida after hauling in five catches for 74 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown reception to clinch the win. He finished with a career-high nine receptions for 103 yards at Kentucky the week before.
King was Georgia's other 100-yard receiver in the win over the Wildcats with a career-high nine catches for a game-high 188 yards two TDs. King was named the National Wide Receiver of the Week by CollegeFootballPerformanceAwards after the Kentucky game. This marked his fifth career 100-yard game and his second this season. King, who has 27 catches for 551 yards, leads the team with six TD catches this season and has 18 in his career, which is fifth in school history. Already having graduated in Social Studies Education, he is No. 2 out of active players in the SEC in receiving yards (2,203) and TD receptions (18) and fourth in receptions (121). King is the active career leader in the NCAA FBS for yards per catch (18.2).
Brown made an impact for the Bulldogs' aerial attack. He had three 100-yard games, including three catches for 113 yards and a touchdown against Ole Miss.
Georgia's tight ends have played a bigger role as of late as junior Arthur Lynch and redshirt freshman Jay Rome have combined for 14 catches for 274 and two 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.
Gurley became the first player this season to rush for more than 100 yards against #3 Florida after he went for 118 and a touchdown. Against Tennessee, he and Marshall combined for 294 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Marshall averaged 16.4 yards/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's longest TD run against UT covered 51 yards while Marshall's were 72 and 75 yards.
Gurley is second in the SEC in Rushing Ydg. Per Game (95.2), tied for second in Scoring (66 pts.) and third in All-Purpose Ydg. Per Game (131.1).
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 three times while Marshall has had the honor once. Gurley, Marshall and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel shared the honor the last week of September.
DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS
Georgia has made key second-half adjustments as opponents have scored just 64 points in the second half, and one touchdown came on an interception return. The Bulldogs posted a second half shutout against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss while Tennessee and #6 South Carolina scored 14 each in the second half. In the win over #3 Florida, the Gators were held to a field goal. In fact in the 17-9 win, the Gators' points came from three field goals, which marked the first time since 1988 that Florida failed to score a touchdown against the Bulldogs.
Georgia forced turnovers on the Volunteers' final three possessions. The Bulldog defense forced the Gators into six turnovers after Florida entered the game with just four turnovers on the year. Only one of Florida's three field goals came on a drive that measured longer than 11 yards. The other two came off of Bulldog turnovers with one being a four-play, 6-yard drive and one being a five-play, 10-yard drive. Against Ole Miss, the Rebels built a 10-0 through the 11:45 mark of the second quarter. From that point on, Georgia's defense outscored Ole Miss 2-0. The Rebels' last 12 drives of the game resulted in no points, just 76 yards and three turnovers.
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 with 22 career sacks in two seasons at Georgia. He is the current NCAA active career leader in sacks per game at 1.0. This season, he has 52 tackles, including 8.5 sacks and 15.0 tackles for loss, one interception, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, despite not playing versus Florida Atlantic (groin) and Kentucky (ankle). Jones has earned multiple national player of the week honors for his dominating performances at Missouri and versus #3 Florida. 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. His 22 sacks is ranked seventh in school history.
True freshman Jordan Jenkins has started two games for Georgia at the other OLB spot. 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. Jenkins made three starts this year (FAU, UK, #3 UF).
Ogletree & Rambo Return To Form
All-American safety Bacarri Rambo paced the secondary versus the Gators with five tackles, including a sack, and his first interception of the year. He now has 14 INTs in his career, which ranks second in school history. Rambo had seven stops and forced a fumble against Ole Miss last week. Junior ILB Alec Ogletree led the Bulldogs with a career-high 14 tackles and a tipped pass that led to an interception versus Tennessee. It was his first action of the season and marked his fourth career game with at least 10 tackles. Against the Rebels, Ogletree had 11 tackles, including a sack and one for a safety and his first career interception. Williams, Herrera Leading Bulldog Tacklers
Senior safety Shawn Williams and sophomore ILB Amarlo Herrera are tied for the team lead with 61 each this year. Williams had six tackles against #3 Florida, including a solo stop on a 4th-and-1 situation with the Gators in Georgia territory. Herrera tallied a career-high 11 tackles at #6 South Carolina after registering a career-high 10 stops at Missouri. He added a 35- yard interception return for a touchdown during the 56-20 win over Florida Atlantic.
A Swann In The Secondary
Sophomore CB Damian Swann has developed into one of the Bulldogs' most dangerous weapons. In the Ole Miss game, he had three tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries, including a 53-yard return. Swann has 39 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. He had an interception and a forced fumble against #3 Florida that led to 10 points in the Bulldogs' 17-9 upset.
The Bulldogs' secondary was tested heavily 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 and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. He is the first Bulldog since Bacarri Rambo to have a pair of picks in a game since 2011. Commings also helped preserve the win over the Gators after pouncing on a fumble in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
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 junior Garrison Smith (6-3, 297) and Cornelius Washington (6-4, 268) at the DE spots. Smith, who is filling in for the injured Abry Jones, equaled his career high with seven tackles, including his first career sack, against Ole Miss. Geathers came off the bench to equal his career high with four tackles at Kentucky, including his first career sack and two tackles for loss. Also, Geathers blocked a PAT against Florida Atlantic to add to the frontline's threat.
Jenkins had a standout performance at #6 South Carolina where he had a career-high eight tackles and blocked the first field goal of his career. Versus Tennessee, he recovered a fumble late in the final period with the Volunteers attempting to tie the game. Smith leads this group with 35 tackles.
True Freshmen Specialists
Punter Collin Barber of Cartersville, Ga., and place-kicker Marshall Morgan of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., have replaced a couple of Bulldogs who are currently NFL starters (Drew Butler-Pittsburgh, Blair Walsh-Minnesota). Morgan has 55 points on the year. He has hit 6-of-9 field goals (including hitting both from 50+) and connected on 37-of-41 extra points.
Barber lifted a 57-yard punt on his first try against Buffalo and is averaging 40.4 yards this year with a career-long punt of 60 yards versus Ole Miss. 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.
The Return Men
Georgia has featured a couple of newcomers returning kickoffs and punts in 2012. Earlier in the year, freshman TB Todd Gurley was the primary kickoff returner. He tied a school, SEC and NCAA record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter versus Buffalo. His record return came on the third time he touched the ball as a collegiate player. 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. Gurley still leads the SEC in kickoff return average at 34.7. However, sophomore Malcolm Mitchell now has 11 kickoff returns for 236 yards (21.5 avg.) and 10 punt returns for 50 yards (5.0 avg.).
Another of Georgia's punt returners is junior Rhett McGowan. He has five returns for 61 yards and is one of four Bulldogs to return punts this season along with Mitchell.
Two regulars on offense who have made significant contributions on special teams are senior running back Richard Samuel and sophomore FLK Chris Conley. 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. Conley blocked a Buffalo punt to set up a 35-yard field goal. Conley had one catch versus Kentucky that resulted in a touchdown.
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