SEC Championship Game Notes
Nov. 26, 2012
Game 13: Georgia (11-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC)
Georgia's SEC Titles
The Bulldogs have won 12 SEC Championships with the most recent one coming in 2005. That tally ranks third in league history behind Alabama (22) and Tennessee (13). Under head coach Mark Richt, the Bulldogs have captured two league crowns (2002 & 2005) in four SEC Championship Game appearances. A Georgia victory in the SEC Championship would give the Bulldogs their fourth appearance in a BCS bowl game. Georgia is 2-1 in BCS games, all Sugar Bowls, with the last one coming to cap the 2007 season - a 41-10 victory over the previously undefeated and 10th-ranked Hawai'i. The Bulldogs lost the 2006 Sugar Bowl to West Virginia in Atlanta after the game was moved due to damages from Hurricane Katrina. Georgia won the 2003 Sugar Bowl over Florida State.
SEC Championship Game Appearances Bowl Destination
2002: #4 Georgia defeats #22 Arkansas 30-3 Sugar: Beat No. 16 Florida State 26-13
Series History With Alabama
Alabama holds a 36-25-4 edge in the series history with Georgia. The Bulldogs are 3-1 against the Crimson Tide under Richt.
2002 (Tuscaloosa): #7 Georgia defeats #22 Alabama 27-25
Did You Know?
Until this season, the only other meeting where both teams were ranked in the top three came on Oct. 31, 1942 in Atlanta (at Tech's Grant Field). Second-ranked Georgia beat third-ranked Alabama 21-10 to win the SEC title. Alabama led 10-0 until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs rallied behind eventual Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich. The Bulldogs then beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl and became consensus national champions.
Richt's Bulldogs Vs. Saban's Teams
Under Richt, Georgia is 2-3 against teams coached by Nick Saban (1-2 vs. LSU, 1-1 vs. Alabama).
Only Two Have Won At Least a Dozen
There have been only two teams in Bulldog history to register at least 12 wins in a season. Vince Dooley's 1980 national champions went 12-0, capped by a 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Richt's 2002 SEC championship squad finished 13-1 after defeating Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. (Note: The NCAA first allowed Division I-A schools to play a 12-game regular season schedule in 2003 and 2003, and then starting in 2006, a 12-game regular season proposal was approved.)
Make That Two SEC Eastern Titles In A Row
With Georgia's 38-0 victory at Auburn on Nov. 10, the Bulldogs clinched the SEC East. 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.
Rambo In Action
Senior FS Bacarri Rambo was named the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week as well as the National Defensive Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards for his game against Georgia Tech. The Donalsonville, Ga., native tied a school record with his 16th career interception and added eight tackles, two forced fumbles and a 49-yard fumble recovery. Starting with the win over #3 Florida where he had five stops, a sack and a pick, Rambo has posted 34 tackles, three forced fumbles, three interceptions and one fumble recovery in the last five games.
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, Butkus and Bednarik awards and a semifinalist for the Maxwell and Lott IMPACT awards. Murray is a Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist and a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy.
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 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 five contests after he injured his ankle in the opening quarter at Kentucky in late October.
Did You Know?
With the 42-10 victory over Georgia Tech, Georgia set a school record for points in a season with 456. The old mark was 450 by the 2002 team in 14 games.
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 Wuerffel Trophy for his work in and away from the classroom. Currently, Murray leads the nation in passing efficiency at 177.2. The SEC record is 182.1 set by Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton in 2010.
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 27 wins as a starter, Murray has 69 TDs to just 15 INTs. Murray is the SEC's leading active player in total offensive yards (9,618, which is 10th in SEC history), completions (660), TD responsibility (99, which is 5th in SEC history), TD passes (89, which is tied for 2nd in SEC history) and passing yards (9,399).
Here are some of Murray's highlights this season:
Pass Efficiency: 3. A. Murray, 158.24 (1. Casey Pachall, TCU, 163.11)
A Look At The Line
Georgia's starting offensive line was the same for the first nine games of the year and then returned to the same alignment in the 12th contest. It 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.
Theus became the first true freshman starter at OT since Trinton Sturdivant in 2007. With Burnette out against Auburn and Georgia Southern, Mark Beard started at LT, Gates at LG, Andrews at C, Lee at RG and Theus at RT.
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 eight contests. On defense, he has recorded 12 tackles. On offense, the Valdosta native leads the team with 36 catches for 532 yards and four touchdowns. Mitchell led the team against the No. 3 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 15 kick returns for 347 yards (23.1 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 and 10 Bulldogs have combined for 30 touchdown receptions. 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 three games. In that stretch, King has seven catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Mitchell has 10 for 174 and two scores and Conley has nine for 111 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.
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. This marked his fifth career 100-yard game and his second this season. King 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 (2,356) and TD receptions (20) and third in receptions (128). 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 28 catches for 477 and three touchdowns. The pair had four catches for 60 yards and Rome's first career TD versus Georgia Tech.
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 12th 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. In the Bulldogs' latest win over Georgia Tech, both Gurley and Marshall finished with a pair of touchdowns and combined for 163 yards on the ground. Marshall averaged 9.4 yds./carry against the Yellow Jackets while Gurley averaged 8.1.
Earlier this season, 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 (94.8), tied for second in Scoring (90 pts.) and third in All-Purpose Ydg. Per Game (124.2). 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 five en route to clinching the team's second straight SEC East title.
This season, Georgia has made key second-half adjustments as opponents have averaged just 6.5 points in the final two quarters (78 points), 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. Georgia Tech's spread-option offense ran 88 plays but managed only 10 points in its lowest scoring output of the season. The touchdown came against Bulldog reserves as Georgia was up 42-3 in the fourth quarter. 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 2012 Butkus, Bednarik, Nagurski and Lombardi 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 71 tackles, including 10.5 sacks and 19.5 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. His 24 sacks ranks seventh in school history.
Ogletree, Rambo Wreaking Havoc
Junior ILB Alec Ogletree has tallied a team-leading 87 tackles in only eight games played this year. The Newnan, Ga., native posted a career-high 15 stops in the rout of Georgia Tech. He now has nine games with at least 10 tackles. Against the Rebels, Ogletree had 11 tackles, including a sack and one for a safety plus his first career interception.
All-American safety Bacarri Rambo tied a school record with his 16th career interception against the Yellow Jackets, matching College Football Hall of Famer Jake Scott. Rambo returned it 27 yards to give him 293 career return yards, which ranks third in school history. Earlier in the same game, Rambo had a forced fumble that he returned 49 yards and finished with eight tackles. In the last five games, Rambo has posted 34 tackles, three forced fumbles, three interceptions and one fumble recovery in the last five games.
Deep Linebacker Corps
Over the last two weeks against offenses that ran the spread option, senior ILB Christian Robinson has started and combined for 22 tackles. Before those contests, the starters at ILB has been Amarlo Herrera and Mike Gilliard. Herrera is fourth on the team with 65 tackles while Gilliard has tallied 46 stops. 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.
Williams, Swann & Commings Complete Secondary
Senior All-American safety Bacarri Rambo headlines a group that also includes senior SS Shawn Williams, senior CB Sanders Commings and sophomore CB Damian Swann. In the Ole Miss game, Swann had three tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries, including a 53-yard return. He has 40 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. Swann had an interception and a forced fumble against #3 Florida that led to 10 points in the Bulldogs' 17-9 upset.
Williams, N John Jenkins and Swann are the three Bulldog defenders who has started all 12 games. Williams has the second-most tackles this season (78) and has added 5.5 tackles for loss. He has been a captain three times this season and a leader on defense for the Bulldogs throughout the 2012 campaign. Commings had two interceptions in the final 6:00 to extinguish any Tennessee rally in the shootout victory over the Vols. He 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. For the year, Commings has 40 tackles after starting two games at safety and eight at cornerback.
Big Guys Around The Ball
The defensive front has been particularly busy lately after facing Georgia Southern's triple-option offense and Georgia Tech's spread-option offense. 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 38 tackles versus the Eagles and the Yellow Jackets. Jenkins anchored the front against Georgia Tech with a careerhigh 11 stops. Smith led the attack against Georgia Southern by tying his career high with seven stops and a fumble recovery and then had eight tackles against Georgia Tech. Smith, who is filling in for the injured Abry Jones, leads the unit with 52 tackles, including his first career sack against Ole Miss. Geathers came off the bench 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.
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 78 points on the year. He has hit 8-of-12 field goals (hitting two from 50+) and connected on 54-of-58 extra points. Morgan set a school record with his 54th extra point this season, topping Billy Bennett's 52 kicked in 2002. Morgan's 58 attempts also takes over the No. 1 spot in the Georgia record books (54, Leo Costa, 1942).
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 (15 for 347, 23.1 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.
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