Georgia vs. Ga. Tech - Game Notes
Nov. 19, 2012
Game 12: Georgia (10-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. Georgia Tech (6-5, 5-3 ACC)
In Georgia history, there have been eight Bulldog teams to win at least 11 games in a season. The 2007 Bulldogs were the last to do it while the 2002 team was the last to reach that mark in the regular season after a 51-7 rout of the Yellow Jackets. The NCAA first allowed Division 1-A schools to play a 12-game regular season schedule in 2002 and 2003, and then starting in 2006, the 12-game regular season proposal was approved.
Under the direction of Mark Richt, Georgia owns a 47-8 record against teams from outside the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs are 3-0 versus non-conference teams this year. Georgia beat Buffalo 45-23 in the season opener before topping Florida Atlantic 56-20 in game three. The Bulldogs' most recent victory over a team outside of the SEC was their 45-14 win over Georgia Southern last week.
Since Richt's first year as head coach in 2001, Georgia has a 10-1 record against Georgia Tech, including last year's 31-17 victory in Atlanta. The Bulldogs picked up a 42-34 win over the Yellow Jackets the last time the teams squared off in Sanford Stadium.
Facing The Triple-Option Offense
Last week against Georgia Southern's triple-option offense, the Bulldogs limited the Eagles to 14 points on 318 total yards on offense (302 rushing, 16 passing). GSU had 58 rushes and went 1-for-4 through the air. In 2011 against Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets ran 70 plays and gained 355 yards, including 243 on the ground on 53 attempts.
Make That Two SEC Eastern 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.
Jones, Murray Up For National Awards
Junior OLB Jarvis Jones and junior QB Aaron Murray have been included as finalists and semifinalists for a variety of national awards. Jones is a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi Award and a semifinalist for the Bednarik, Maxwell, Butkus and Lott IMPACT awards. Murray is a Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist and a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm.
Catching Everything But A Break
The Bulldogs have lost two starting receivers to ACL injuries in 2012. First, it was redshirt sophomore Michael Bennett in practice during the week leading up to the South Carolina game in October. Most recently it was senior Marlon Brown against 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 starter DE Abry Jones for the last four contests after he injured his ankle in the opening quarter at Kentucky in late October. Junior starting OG Chris Burnette suffered a shoulder injury versus Ole Miss and missed the last two games.
The Bulldogs rank fourth nationally forcing 59 3-andouts this season. That is an average of 5.4/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, and is also a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy for his work in and away from the classroom. Currently, Murray leads the nation in passing efficiency at 174.3. With 14 more passing yards, Murray will become the first SEC quarterback to have three consecutive seasons with 3,000+ yards passing. 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 26 wins as a starter, Murray has 67 TDs to just 15 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (9,407, which is 11th in SEC history), completions (646), TD responsibility (97, which is 5th in SEC history), TD passes (87, which is 5th in SEC history) and passing yards (9,184). 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 was the same for the first nine games of the year. It 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 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. With Burnette out the past two games, 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 seven contests. On defense, he has recorded 12 tackles while on offense, the Valdosta native is tied for the team high with 33 catches for 444 yards and four 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 13 kick returns for 285 yards (21.9 avg.) and 10 punt returns for 50 yards.
Here is where Mitchell has spent his 500 snaps this season: Defense - 178 snaps; Special Teams - 127 snaps; Offense - 195 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 have been very productive the last two games. In that stretch, King has six catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns, Mitchell has seven for 86 and two scores, and Conley has eight for 108 and three touchdowns.
Earlier this year, 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. com after the Kentucky game. This marked his fifth career 100-yard game and his second this season. King, who has 33 catches for 685 yards, leads the team with eight TD catches this season and has 20 in his career, which is tied for third in school history. Already having graduated in Social Studies Education, he is No. 2 out of active players in the SEC in receiving yards (2,337) and TD receptions (20) and third in receptions (127). 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 24 catches for 417 and two touchdowns. The pair had five catches for 97 yards versus GSU.
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 11th Bulldog to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since Knowshon Moreno in 2008 after going for 68 yards and a touchdown versus Georgia Southern. That year, Moreno, a redshirt sophomore, gained 1,400 yards with 16 touchdowns in 13 games. Only Gurley and Walker have tallied 1,000-yard seasons in their true freshman seasons. 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 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 and Marshall have combined for 12 runs of 25 or more yards, including eight that went for touchdowns.
Gurley is second in the SEC in Rushing Ydg. Per Game (94.6), and in Scoring (78 pts.) and third in All-Purpose Ydg. Per Game (124.9). 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 four en route to clinching the team's second straight SEC East title.
Georgia has made key second-half adjustments as opponents have scored just 71 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.
Against Georgia Southern's triple-option offense, the Eagles were held to 14 points and 62 total plays.
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.
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 (1.0) and is tied for tackles for loss per game (1.6). This season, he has 62 tackles, including 10.5 sacks and 17.0 tackles for loss, one interception, six 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 four games at the other OLB spot. He has 4.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss this season. Jenkins 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.
Ogletree & Rambo Return To Form
Junior ILB Alec Ogletree has tallied 72 tackles in only seven 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 eight games with at least 10 tackles, including his game-high 10 tackles at Auburn and 12 against Georgia Southern. 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 #3 Florida 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 is leading the defense with 73 stops while sophomore ILB Amarlo Herrera is third on the squad with 65. 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 40 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 defensive front factors heavily in slowing down the triple-option offenses, featured by Georgia Southern last week and Georgia Tech this week. 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., combined with junior Garrison Smith (6-3, 297) for 15 tackles against the Eagles. Smith led the attack by tying his career high with seven stops and a fumble recovery. 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 44 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 72 points on the year. He has hit 8-of-12 field goals (hitting two from 50+) and connected on 48-of-52 extra points.
Barber lifted a 57-yard punt on his first try against Buffalo and is averaging 41.2 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 (13 for 285, 21.9 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 8.1 on seven 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.