Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dawgs Win 45-23 ~ Game Notes


Season Openers: With today’s 45-23 win, Georgia’s all-time record in season openers is 90-26-3, including a 10-0 mark when starting a season at home under Mark Richt. Under Richt, the Dawgs now own a 45-8 mark versus teams from outside the Southeastern Conference, including 31-1 at home.

Making An Impression: True freshman TB Todd Gurley tied a school, SEC and NCAA record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. This was the first time the Dawgs 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’s return was the 43rd 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in SEC history. Gurley also had a 27-yard return late in the second quarter to finish with two returns for 127 yards.
Gurley scored a 10-yard touchdown on his second career carry to give Georgia a 7-0 edge. He added a 55-yard TD scamper in the fourth quarter. Gurley finished with eight carries for 100 yards to become the first true freshman to have at least 100 yards and 3 TDs in a season opener since Danny Ware in 2004 against Georgia Southern. Ware had 18 carries for 135 yards and 3 TDs.

Going Deep: Junior quarterback Aaron Murray hit senior flanker Tavarres King for a 63-yard touchdown reception to give the Dawgs’ a 24-6 edge in the second quarter. This was Murray’s 60th touchdown pass of his career and King’s 13th career touchdown reception. King finished with 6 catches for 117 yards, which is the fourth 100-yard game of his career. Murray finished 15-of-26 for 258 yards and 3 touchdowns. Another of Murray’s completions was a 38-yard touchdown to junior Rantavious Wooten. It was Wooten’s fifth career TD reception.

Blocked Punt: Sophomore flanker Chris Conley blocked a punt early in the second quarter to give the Dawgs the ball at the Buffalo 23. It led to a 35-yard field goal. This was the first blocked punt for the Dawgs since Orson Charles had one at Vanderbilt in 2011 and was the 20th blocked punt since Mark Richt took over as head coach in 2001. Conley had two catches for 20 yards today.

Also On Special Teams: True freshman place kicker Marshall Morgan connected on a 35-yard field goal to give the Dawgs a 17-6 edge. Morgan was 1-for-2 on field goals and hit all six extra point attempts. Redshirt sophomore punter Adam Erickson punted for the first time in his career. The Athens native had 3 punts for a 30.0 average as he is serving as the “pooch” punter. True freshman Collin Barber also lifted a 57-yard punt on his first and only attempt. It marked the first time since 1985 that Georgia opened a season with a punter and placekicker without any collegiate experience. That year, punter Cris Carpenter and placekicker Steve Crumley were redshirt freshman.

Leading Tackles: Junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones tallied 8 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. Sophomore cornerback Damian Swann had a career-high 8 tackles to go along with one punt return for 30 yards.

Starters: Georgia had five first-time starters versus the Bulls. On offense, true freshman right tackle John Theus, sophomore center David Andrews and redshirt freshman fullback Merritt Hall got the start while redshirt sophomore free safety Connor Norman and redshirt freshman cornerback Devin Bowman lined up on defense. True freshman Marshall Morgan kicked off to start the game and kicked the extra points.

New Faces: Right tackle John Theus, tailback Keith Marshall, tailback Todd Gurley, place kicker Marshall Morgan, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, fullback Quayvon Hicks, tightend Ty Flournoy-Smith, cornerback Sheldon Dawson, strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, outside linebacker James DeLoach, punter Collin Barber, outside linebacker Josh Dawson and center Preston Mobley were the 13 true freshmen to play for the Dawgs. This marks the most true freshmen to play in the season opener in the Richt era. The previous high was 11 in 2008.

Injuries: Redshirt sophomore tailback Ken Malcome suffered an injured left hand in the third quarter and did not return. Theus left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury. Senior splitend Marlon Brown (left hamstring strain) and sophomore cornerback/splitend Malcolm Mitchell (left ankle sprain) did not dress out.

Coach Mark Richt

On the victory…
"There's no such thing as a bad victory. We are thankful for the win. I want to congratulate Buffalo for the effort. They played extremely well. 1-0 is a great thing. … We've got some things to clean up, there's no doubt about that. We had a play with 10 men on the field and a play with 12 men on the field. We had some issues that should not happen. But they did, so we've got to correct them and square them away for next week."

On next week's game…
"Missouri has a really fine team. They will create some major issues for us. They will spread us out and we'll have to play in space a lot, plus they have a quarterback who can run."

On Gurley's kickoff return for a touchdown…
"That electrified the fans and it electrified me, too. That was fun to watch. I was proud of him and Coach Tony Ball and the entire kickoff return team. You need a guy with bravery to hit it up in there full speed, the ability to break some arm tackles and the speed to take it to the house. He looks like he will be a pretty good return man."

On the running backs…
"We'll have to watch the film to see exactly what they hit and didn't hit in the blocking schemes. I was pleased with the way the backs ran with the ball and they secured it well."

On the weather…
"We faced a little more adversity than anybody expected. It started with the humidity. We haven't practiced in it, and it got to us a little bit and to them a little bit. But we fought through that."

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