Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dawgs Blowout Auburn To Win The East

FOOTBALL

With tonight’s 38-0 victory, Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC) will represent the East in the SEC Championship game on December 1st in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. This will be the fifth trip for the Dawgs, all under Mark Richt including their 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).

Tonight’s shutout was the first by the Dawgs against Auburn since 1978 when they won 28-0 in Auburn. Tonight’s 38-point margin of victory matches last year’s 45-7 win in Athens and tied for the second largest margin of victory. The largest was a 41-0 win in 1946 in Columbus.

Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement...

“Obviously, we played well. I was really proud of everybody. It was a very outstanding performance by everybody--offense, defense, special teams. Great crowd for Georgia tonight. The Redcoat Band was there. Very nice field celebration of our victory with our fans and our band and our families and our team. I’m just very thankful to have the opportunity to go back to Atlanta. I’m very excited about winning the East. I’m very excited about going to Atlanta. There’s no doubt about that. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. We have a couple of games to be played. We have Georgia Southern coming up this week that we know is going to be a challenge, and we’ve got to work hard to prepare for them, and we also have to work hard in just getting better as a football team as we progress throughout the year. I think we’ve been improving as we go, and hopefully we keep it going.”

On getting better as a football team...

“Every day that we practice we have a chance to get better or worse. This is all there is to it. There’s just so many things on offense, so many things on defense and special teams. There are just so many facets of the game. You can perfect it, and again, if you feel like you’re playing at a high level somewhere along the way, if you don’t keep honing it, if you don’t keep working hard at it, you’re going to lose what you have. We just have to keep moving forward, and hopefully we’ll keep getting better during practice.”

On anything seen tonight that needs improvement...

“There were some things protection-wise that weren’t just right. When you have a game like that, you might think everything is going right. Every time we snap the ball, we’ll see some things that weren’t done as well as they should be, so we just have to make sure that we keep getting better. The thing about football is every week you play, it’s a whole new team, it’s a whole new scheme. You can’t just sit there and say, ‘Well, let’s just run that same game plan.’ You can’t do that because you have different defensive looks, different offensive looks and different things to deal with on special teams. It’s always a challenge every week.

On a different feeling about making it to the SEC Championship...

“It’s a little different in that, again, we’re excited about it, and I don’t want to belittle it in any way, shape or form winning the East because it’s a big deal. There are six other teams in the Eastern Division. It’s very difficult to get in the position to go back to Atlanta, but I just think we really feel like since we were there last year and didn’t do very well--we played a good first half and we just didn’t do much the second half--we just want to play better. We want to have a better performance when we get there.”

Another Shutout: Georgia’s defense blanked Auburn for its seventh shutout in the Mark Richt era including third in the SEC. The last one came against Vandy in 2010 (43-0) and the first on the road since 2006 when they blanked South Carolina 18-0. Georgia’s defense has played the last six quarters without giving up any points. The Tigers had 124 yards on 25 plays in the first half, and the Tigers finished with 238 yards on 49 plays.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones

On returning to the SEC Championship Game…

“It’s a great feeling. We’ve been training all year for it. Everybody decided to come back and focus and put the work in. It started in the spring. The leaders on the team have been at the forefront, making sure everybody takes care of business. We’ve been reaching our goal every week.”

On tonight’s game…

“We knew it was a big game. We knew Auburn was going to be ready for us, and we knew being on the road would be a tough atmosphere. Our defense went out there to give our offense a chance to get the ball, and they punched it in and got it rolling. That’s the things we look for, just going out there on defense and dominating and giving our offense as many chances to put the ball in the end zone.”

Georgia-Auburn Series: Since the first year of SEC football (1933), the UGA-AU rivalry has decided the conference fate of one or both of the teams 21 times, whether it was a division crown or overall title. The Dawgs are now 12-8-1 in these games. This was the first time since 2002 when Georgia came to Auburn with the Eastern Division crown and a trip to Atlanta on the line, and it has won both times. In the overall series history, Georgia has evened it now at 54-54-8 including winning six out of the last seven. This is the seventh most played rivalry in NCAA FBS and tonight was the 120th year it has been played as it dates back to 1892.

Big First Half and Game For Aaron Murray: Junior quarterback Aaron Murray was 16-for-20 for 186 yards and 3 TDs (to 3 different receivers) to build a 28-0 advantage in the first half. He led the Dawgs to four TDs on their first four drives, covering 76, 80, 64 and 90 yards. He ended up 18-for-24, 208 yards, 3 TDs. On Georgia’s first drive, Murray was 4-for-4 for 30 yards, capped by a six-yard TD pass to sophomore. Chris Conley. The big play came from a 59-yard run by freshman Todd Gurley. On the second possession, he went 5-for-5 for 41 yards including a five-yard TD pass to Malcolm Mitchell. At that point, Murray was 9-for-9 for 71 yards, 2 TDs. On the third possession, he had his first incompletion on his 11th attempt after starting out 10-for-10 for 87 yards. The third drive culminated with a TD. Murray sat out one play after taking a hit from the AU defense. Then he returned to fire a 17-yard TD strike to Tavarres King on a great catch that was reviewed and upheld for 21-0 lead. Murray led a 90-yard TD drive on 4th possession for a 28-0 lead.

Quarterback Aaron Murray

On the game/clinching the SEC East...

“Oh, it’s awesome. After that game at South Carolina, to every week be praying that a team will lose and luckily they did. This is the SEC. Like I’ve been saying all year, you just never know who’s going to win. We just knew we had to do our job, and that is to continue to win and continue to put ourselves in position. If teams did lose, we would be able to get back. And, like I said, South Carolina lost a couple and we’ve won out the rest of the way. We’ve continued to get better every week. I’m just extremely proud of our guys.”

On taking control early...

“That’s what we knew. We knew we had to come in here and try to get on them really early and try to put some points on the board. Trying to get their fans out of it is the biggest thing. When you play away games, if you can get the crowd out of the game offensively enough that’s huge for us. We were able to do that early and make some big plays.”

On return to Auburn after the 2010 game...

“Oh, I try not to remember that. I was just walking by the training room and I looked in there. I was like, ‘Man, I never want to be in there ever again.’ I remember that two years ago. Just a completely different feeling, a completely different team. And like I said, I’m just extremely proud of our guys.”

On reaching SEC title game...

“Oh, it’s extremely exciting. You know, we still have two regular season games to go so we’ve got to get ready and put this behind us. The SEC Championship is three weeks away, so we still have two more games to win.”

Leading Tacklers: Junior linebacker Alec Ogletree led the team with 10 stops and 1 sack. Senior safety Bacarri Rambo had seven tackles in the first half and finished with eight including an interception. Junior linebacker Jarvis Jones had four tackles and two sacks tonight. Jones has 10.5 sacks for the year and 24 in his career. The defense forced a turnover on AU’s deepest drive, ending at the Dawg nine. Senior Shawn Williams forced the fumble, and it was recovered by senior linebacker Mike Gilliard. For Rambo, it was his 15th career INT, one shy of the school mark held by Jake Scott (1967-68). Neither turnover led to any points.

Free Safety Bacarri Rambo

On today’s game…

“It feels great. All the seniors and everybody in the NFL, that’s what they came back for. We still haven’t finished. This is just a ticket to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship, so we just have to go there and handle business.”

On coming out strong…

“We just wanted to come out here and start fast. Last week we didn’t start fast, but we finished strong. We wanted to start fast and finish strong this week. We just came out here with a different mentality to just shut them out and get the offense rolling, and everything else will just take care of itself.”

On preparing for Atlanta…

“Everybody just has to keep playing hard, and keep improving each week. We just need to do our assignment and do it the best we can. We’ll win, because we’ve got the players and the coaches. We just have to do what they teach us and what they ask, and everything else will just take care of itself.”

“Gurshall” Combines for 200+ Again: For the third time this season, Georgia’s freshman tailbacks each went over 100 yards. In the first half, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 12 carries and 116 yards, and they finished with 19 carries for 221 yards and 2 TDs. Gurley tallied 116 yards on 11 carries while Marshall had 105 yards on 8 carries. Earlier this year, they combined for 294 yards on 34 carries with five TDs in a win over Tennessee, and in a win over Florida. Atlantic, they combined for 215 yards on 20 carries with 2 TDs.

New OL Starting Unit: Due to a shoulder injury to junior guard Chris Burnette, the Dawgs featured a different starting offensive line for the first time this season. Tonight, the Dawgs went with Mark Beard (LT), Kenarious Gates (LG), David Andrews (C), Dallas Lee (RG) and John Theus (RT). It was the first career start for Beard while Gates has been the starter at LT and Lee at LG for the first nine games this year. Burette had an 18-game starting streak end. Also of note, sophomore flanker Chris Conley made his first career start. Conley snagged a six-yard TD on the first drive of the game and had 4 receptions total for 32 yards.

TK Honors Teammate: Senior flanker Tavarres King wore jersey number 15 tonight instead of his number 12 to honor senior Marlon Brown who saw his collegiate career end last Saturday due to an ACL injury. King’s first catch tonight was an impressive 17-yard TD. It was the 19th TD catch of King’s career, moving him to a tie for 4th in school history with Brice Hunter. King had 3 catches for 73 yards and 1 TD, all coming in the first half.

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