Coming into their first game of the season, Mark Richt’s 2010 Dogs appeared to have more question marks on defense than offense. But as impressive as the 55 points scored by Georgia against Louisiana-Lafayette was Saturday, the other side of that score is what left fans smiling at the end of the day.
With the exception of one play when they fell asleep and let La-La tight end Ladarious Green get behind them for a touchdown catch, Todd Grantham’s rebuilt Dogs defense pretty much played lights-out ball. The visitors got a measly 14 yards rushing on 29 carries and 114 yards in the air, 60 of them on that one scoring play. Georgia got three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), three sacks and continually hurried the Cajuns’ quarterbacks.
Yes, it was only Louisiana-Lafayette, and the Dogs’ D will face a much bigger challenge next week in Columbia. But even during garbage time, when the scrubs were in, Grantham’s defenders played hard and kept up the pressure. Usually Georgia teams give up some junk points late in these one-sided affairs. Not on this day.
As for the offense, well, 55 points says a lot. But they looked tentative early on and the offensive line drew four false start penalties, including two in a row on consecutive plays. The pass protection was generally very good but the run blocking sometimes left a bit to be desired. Caleb King and Carlton Thomas both had some fine, tough runs, but overall the rushing game definitely missed the suspended Washaun Ealey and still looked very much like a work in progress. That’s what much of your line missing preseason practices will do.
In his college debut, redshirt-freshman QB Aaron Murray threw three touchdown passes and (perhaps unwisely) ran for another. Murray completed 16 of 24 passes for 194 yards, a pretty decent showing. But he did at times look like an inexperienced freshman, throwing a pass to a fullback with a man on him that resulted in the loss of a dozen yards, misfiring badly when he had a wide open Orson Charles and launching a dying duck into the end zone that fortunately was dropped by a La-La defender who should have had an interception.
Murray’s run for a score ended well but Richt wasn’t pleased he took off running on that play because he barely got the ball over the goal and if he’d been nudged out of bounds with no time left on the clock, the Dogs would have gotten no points out of that drive. He’ll learn, though, and Georgia fans have to be pleased to finally have a quarterback who’s a legitimate threat when running. And Murray had moments when he looked like a veteran, including a perfectly placed pass to Kris Durham for 42 yards.
Speaking of Durham, he caught two touchdown passes and came back from a year off looking like a major weapon for the Dogs, even if he did lose the handle on a ball that resulted in the interception that set up La-La’s score. The receiving corps in general looked pretty good, though there were a couple of bobbled or dropped balls.
And how cool was it that true freshman backup quarterback Hutson Mason shed his redshirt to enter the game and then tossed a touchdown pass on his very first play … to backup quarterback-turned-receiver Logan Gray!
It was that kind of day in Athens.
I’ll have more to say Sunday, but for now I’ll turn it over to you folks …
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