Game Notes: Georgia vs. Georgia Southern
Nov. 12, 2012
Game 11: Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. Georgia Southern (8-2, 6-2 SoCon)
Make That Two SEC Eastern Division Titles In A Row
With Georgia's 38-0 victory at Auburn, the Bulldogs will represent the East in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1 in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. This will be the fifth trip for Georgia, all under Mark Richt including the second in a row. Georgia is 2-2 in these games, winning the SEC in 2002 and 2005. Richt's overall record at UGA is now 115-39 (69-31 in SEC).
The Bulldogs clinched their second consecutive invitation to the championship in fine fashion. The shutout against the Tigers was the first by the Bulldogs against Auburn since 1976 when they won 28-0 in Auburn. The 38-point margin of victory matches last year's 45-7 win in Athens and tied for the second largest margin of victory in the series. The biggest blowout of Auburn was a 41-0 win in 1946 in Columbus.
SEC East Champion Bulldogs Turn Focus To GSU
Fresh off another SEC Eastern Division clinching victory at Auburn, fourth-ranked Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC) turns its attention to a couple of non-conference in-state foes to close out the 2012 regular season. First up, it's the Eagles of Georgia Southern as they bring their triple-option offense to Sanford Stadium. Last year, Alabama's top-rated rushing defense surrendered a season-high 302 yards on the ground to the Eagles in a 45-21 victory. Also, the 21 points scored by the Eagles was the most the Crimson Tide gave up all year.
Georgia's defense has not allowed a point in the past six quarters, and in the past three games (Florida, Ole Miss, Auburn), the Bulldogs have given up just one touchdown and four field goals. The 38-0 shutout of Auburn was the seventh under Richt and third for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
Offensively, Georgia's balanced attack left the Tigers dazed on the Plains. Junior quarterback Aaron Murray was 16-for-20 for 186 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 28-0 halftime lead. He finished 18-for-24 for 208 yards while the freshmen tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 221 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.
Georgia-Georgia Southern Series History
Georgia leads the all-time series 4-0 with every meeting in Athens. The Eagles first visit to Sanford Stadium came in 1992 (34-7). The other trips came in 2000 (29-7), 2004 (48-28) and 2008 (45-21). In the most recent meeting, the Bulldogs were ranked number one and opened the 2008 season by building a 31-0 halftime lead over the Eagles. It was 38-0 before GSU got on the board. Bulldog quarterback Matthew Stafford, who would go on to be the top pick in the NFL draft, tallied a career-high 275 yards passing while running back Knowshon Moreno, who also went in the first round to the NFL, scored three touchdowns to pace the offense. Georgia piled up 535 yards of total offense on only 59 plays.
Update On The Eagles
Last Saturday, the Eagles walloped Howard 69-26 on Homecoming to raise their record to 8-2 overall under Jeff Monken this season. The Eagles again feature the top rushing attack in the Football Championship Subdivision (FBS). To date, GSU has tallied 4,012 yards on the ground including eight 300-yard rushing games this year. Junior quarterback Jerick McKinnon posted a career-high 198 yards rushing against Howard to give him 1,053 for the year including 11 touchdowns. GSU has only 65 passing attempts on the year, and McKinnon is 14-for-26 for 396 yards, two interceptions and five touchdowns.
How The Bulldogs Do Facing The Triple-Option?
The last time Georgia faced a triple-option offense was in a 31-17 victory over Georgia Tech last year in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets ran 70 plays and gained 355 yards, including 243 on the ground on 53 attempts.
Andrews Named SEC OL Of The Week
Sophomore C David Andrews has been named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following his performance against Auburn. The Johns Creek native graded out at 88 percent and had six "dominator" blocks to go along with three knockdowns during the Bulldogs' 38-0 rout against the Tigers.
Aiming For 10 Wins
Georgia will be aiming for its 10th win on Saturday. This would mark the 20th time in school history that the Bulldogs have had a 10-win season. Last season, Georgia went 10-4. The Bulldogs last had back-to-back 10 win seasons in 2007-08. Georgia was 11-2 in 2007 and 10-3 the next year.
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.
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 in practice during the week leading up to the South Carolina game in early October. Most recently it was senior Marlon Brown during the Ole Miss game in November. At the time of their injuries, Bennett (24 rec., 345 yds., 4 TDs) and Brown (27-469-4) were the leading receivers for the Bulldogs.
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 in late October. Junior OG Chris Burnette suffered a shoulder injury versus Ole Miss and missed the Auburn game.
The Bulldogs rank fourth nationally forcing 55 3-and-outs this season. That is an average of 5.5/game. Florida State leads with 6.8 followed by TCU (6.0) and Wisconsin at 5.6.
Murray Operates With Surgical Precision
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 leads the SEC in passing efficiency at 170.7. 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 25 wins as a starter, Murray has 63 TDs to just 15 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (9,092), completions (628), TD responsibility (93, which is fifth in SEC history), TD passes (83, which is 5th in SEC history) and passing yards (8,854).
Here are some of Murray's highlights this season:
Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Active Career Leaders List
A Look At The Line
Georgia's starting offensive line in nine of 10 games 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. Due to an injury to Burnette, Mark Beard started at LT, Gates at LG, Andrews at C, Lee at RG and Theus at RT against Auburn. 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 six contests. On defense, he has recorded 12 tackles while on offense, the Valdosta native leads the team with 31 catches for 405 yards and three 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 473 snaps this season: Defense - 178 snaps; Special Teams - 125 snaps; Offense - 159 snaps
Assortment Of Dangerous Targets
Junior Aaron Murray likes to spread the ball around as four different receivers have had 100-yard games this season. Georgia has lost two of its receivers for the season due to ACL injuries in Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett. The Bulldog leaders in the corps who are healthy are senior Tavarres King and sophomore Malcolm Mitchell. Georgia lost Bennett before the South Carolina game and Brown during the Ole Miss contest.
King, Mitchell and sophomore Chris Conley all had touchdowns against Auburn. Mitchell led the attack in the upset of #3 Florida, 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 30 catches for 624 yards, leads the team with seven TD catches this season and has 19 in his career, which is fourth in school history. Already having graduated in Social Studies Education, he is No. 2 out of active players in the SEC in receiving yards (2,276) and TD receptions (19) and third in receptions (124). King is the active career leader in the NCAA FBS for yards per catch (18.4).
Georgia's tight ends have played a bigger role as of late. Junior Arthur Lynch and redshirt freshman Jay Rome have combined for 19 catches for 320 and two touchdowns. The pair had five catches for 46 yards versus Auburn.
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. With 27 more yards, Gurley will be come the 11th Bulldog to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since Knowshon Moreno in 2008. That year, Moreno gained 1,400 yards with 16 touchdowns in 13 games. 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. He and Marshall teamed up for 221 yards and two touchdowns at Auburn as Gurley led the charge with 116 on 11 carries (10.5 avg.). However, it was Marshall's 62-yard scoring run that electrified the Bulldog fans against the Tigers as he finished with 105 on eight (13.1 avg.). Against Tennessee, he and Marshall combined for 200+ yards (294) 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 (97.3), and in Scoring (66 pts.) and third in All-Purpose Ydg. Per Game (130.6). 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.
Top Recent SEC Freshmen Rushing Tandem
Top Performances UGA Freshmen Duos
DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS
In Georgia's last three SEC victories, the Bulldogs have allowed just 19 points (one touchdown, four field goals) and have a streak of six scoreless quarters. After registering 11 sacks through its first seven games, the defense has tallied 13 in the last three en route to clinching the team's second straight SEC East title.
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. 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.
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. Georgia shut out Auburn for the first time since 1976 during the Bulldogs' 38-0 win. This is the third shutout for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the seventh in the Mark Richt era.
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 provides a solid foundation at linebacker with 24 career sacks in two seasons at Georgia. He is the current NCAA active career leader in sacks per game (1.1) and tackles for loss per game (1.7). This season, he has 56 tackles, including 10.5 sacks and 17.0 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 24 sacks is ranked seventh in school history.
True freshman Jordan Jenkins has started three 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) and had 4.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss this season.
Ogletree & Rambo Return To Form
Junior ILB Alec Ogletree has tallied 60 tackles in only six games played this year. He led the Bulldogs with a career-high 14 tackles and a tipped pass that led to an interception versus Tennessee. The game against the Volunteers was his first action of the season. He now has seven games with at least 10 tackles, including his game-high 10 tackles at Auburn. Against the Rebels, Ogletree had 11 tackles, including a sack and one for a safety and his first career interception.
All-American safety Bacarri Rambo paced the secondary versus the Gators with five tackles, including a sack, and his first interception of the year. The 2011 All-American added his second pick of the year in the win at Auburn. He now has 15 INTs in his career, which ranks second in school history. He is just one pick shy of the school record mark held by College Football Hall of Fame member Jake Scott.
Williams, Herrera Leading Bulldog Tacklers
Senior safety Shawn Williams and sophomore ILB Amarlo Herrera are leading the defense with 66 and 62 stops, respectively. Some of their performances have come in this year's biggest games. 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
The next two weeks will be big for the Georgia defensive front as they face the triple-option offenses of Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. 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 37 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 63 points on the year. He has hit 7-of-10 field goals (including hitting both from 50+) and connected on 42-of-46 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 a couple of newcomers returning punts and kickoffs in 2012. The main kickoff returner has been sophomore Malcolm Mitchell (11 for 236, 21.5 avg.). Freshman Todd Gurley has also had seven returns, including a 100 yarder to tie the NCAA record versus Buffalo which shot his average up to 34.7. Mitchell and junior Rhett McGowan have split time as the punt returners. McGowan is averaging 12.2 on five returns while Mitchell has had 10 returns for 50 yards (5.0 avg.)
Senior running back Richard Samuel and sophomore FLK Chris Conley have made an impact play on special teams this year. 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.
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