It might seem churlish to come out of a 55-7 win complaining, but this was after all Idaho State that Georgia was playing Saturday and while a 35-point blitz in the second quarter put the game out of reach early, the Dogs quite frequently were not operating at peak efficiency.
Aaron Murray struggled in the first quarter for the second week in a row, completing only five of 11 passes for 39 yards as Georgia ended up having to settle for two Blair Walsh field goals in the first 15 minutes. While the official line put forth by the Georgia broadcast team was that Murray was throwing into a stiff wind to start the game, the plain fact is that several of those throws were off target from the start, particularly a couple he threw into the dirt.
And Georgia’s running game hardly overwhelmed the relatively small ISU defense, with Carlton Thomas the leading rusher with 64 yards on 14 carries. The main culprit was the offensive line, with the run-blocking leaving much to be desired. The pass protection wasn’t that great, either, with the Bengals managing to sack Murray on two consecutive plays in the first quarter, prompting a smattering of boos from the generally laid-back crowd.
It was the Dogs’ special teams and defense that got things going, with a partially blocked punt providing a short field for the Georgia offense on its first scoring drive of the second quarter. That was followed by Bacarri Rambo intercepting an ISU pass and running it back for a touchdown and then Brandon Boykin snagging another pick to set up a one-play, 3-yard drive for yet another score with a pass to A.J. Green to make it 27-0.
Murray finally got hot on the next drive with a couple of nice passes to Orson Charles and then a throw to Green, who did some nifty open-field running for another touchdown. Marlon Brown made a couple of key receptions on Georgia’s next possession, which ended up with a rare throw to tight end Bruce Figgins in the end zone, and the Dogs led 41-0 at halftime.
Mark Richt only played his offensive starters one series in the second half, but again it was special teams play that got things going with a long punt return by Branden Smith giving the Dogs another short field that resulted in a score by Shaun Chapas.
Vance Cuff returned another interception 30 yards to cap off Georgia’s scoring with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
Hutson Mason played quarterback the rest of the game and might have led the Dogs to more points but was the victim of several dropped passes and a couple of stuffed runs. As Georgia threatened to score again late in the game, Richt emptied the bench and then Mason had to fall on his own fumble on third-and-5, resulting in a missed field goal attempt by backup kicker Brandon Bogotay.
Defensively, the Dogs generally looked good, keeping the ISU quarterbacks running for their lives and throwing lots of desperation passes out of bounds, but the much coveted shutout was lost in the fourth quarter when Cuff let Tavoy Moore get past him for a 25-yard touchdown catch.
So, OK, maybe I am being churlish by emphasizing the negatives coming out of a big, relatively easy win. But, like I said, this was Idaho State, and the Dogs’ inability to just run it down their throats was disappointing, as was the sluggish start.
I’ll be back Sunday afternoon with more thoughts on the game, but for now feel free to share your thoughts about Georgia’s performance Saturday.
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