Todd Gurley has a Dawgs debut worth woofing about

Todd Gurley lived up to all the hype in his UGA debut. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Todd Gurley lived up to all the hype in his UGA debut. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

On a sweltering day in Athens that saw mascot Russ going shirtless at one point and Georgia looking like a team that was missing several starters on defense, the positive fan talk on the way out of Sanford Stadium was Todd Gurley and … well, OK, that was about it.

But there’s nothing wrong with that, because Gurley’s debut as a Georgia Bulldog was definitely a performance to savor, with the true freshman showing those August scrimmage performances were no fluke: 100 yards on eight carries plus a 100-yard kickoff return for a total of three touchdowns. He’s the first UGA freshman to run for 100 yards in his debut game since Danny Ware in 2004.

Fellow freshman Keith Marshall, who had 46 yards on 10 carries, shows a lot of potential as an alternative back to Gurley but looked like more of a work in progress.

Overall, the Dawgs’ offense against the opening game opponent looked about like I expected: Mostly vanilla, explosive at times but inconsistent. Quarterback Aaron Murray, who surprisingly played deep into the fourth quarter, had a decent day statistically, completing 15 of 26 passes for 258 yards, but he got off to a shaky start in the first half, overthrowing several open receivers. Had he been more on target, that embarrassing 24-16 halftime score would have looked a lot more respectable.

Still, it wasn’t the offense that appeared most in need of improvement Saturday. That dubious distinction went to Todd Grantham’s defense, particularly in the first half before they’d had a good chewing out by their coach during the locker room break. Yes, some of Buffalo’s intermittent success throwing the ball was to be expected with most of the starting secondary missing the game, but it was the Bulls’ success on the ground against Georgia’s defense that was more disturbing.

Buffalo’s Branden Oliver is a decent back, so him getting 111 yards on 30 carries wasn’t that unexpected, but with Missouri’s James Franklin coming up next week the Dawgs’ trouble corralling Buffalo QB Alex Zordich, who racked up  83 yards running, had a lot of us concerned. The Dawgs’ much vaunted defensive front definitely didn’t have a particularly sharp day.

Let’s wrap up this initial assessment of the opener back on a positive note, though. While there’s still room for improvement, Georgia’s special teams play was for the most part encouraging. Placekicker Marshall Morgan missed his first field goal attempt, probably a case of nerves, but otherwise looked solid, particularly on kickoffs. Punter Collin Barber showed a strong leg and the Dawgs actually blocked one of those hated rugby-style punts that the Bulls tried. Buffalo did have one long punt return but that was thanks to getting away with one of several blatant holds that went uncalled by the infamous Penn Wagers officiating team.

Overall, a sloppy win that still had enough high points that I didn’t see fans scowling on their way out like they were at halftime.

What did you think of the Dawgs’ home opener?

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

113 comments Add your comment

Dawg Tired

September 1st, 2012
10:02 pm

oldtruckbob – If you had a back as good as Gurley appears to be, do you think you could teach him how to pass block in 4 weeks? As a former coach, I guarantee you I could.

Bigboy

September 1st, 2012
10:07 pm

The D has to play better if we want to win the SEC.Big John was gassed after the first quarter and the DL who had no players missing wasn’t all that dominant today.

Same ole Same ole

September 1st, 2012
10:18 pm

the so called “Dream Team” aint panning out

Same ole Same ole

September 1st, 2012
10:19 pm

Clemson is SHREDDING AWBURN

Dawgs smell

September 1st, 2012
10:20 pm

We still stink

ACC just Whipped a SEC team in the 4th QTR.

September 1st, 2012
10:21 pm

YABBER DABBER DOOOOOOOO!!!!!

josh from nc

September 1st, 2012
10:52 pm

Ladies ladies ladies, give it a rest. Yes the D needed work, but did you see any special schems run? NO did you notice what the offense was doing? First half pass, second half run, nothing special. Why would you throw everything at a team like that? We have Mizzu to prepare for. Take away all the positives away from this game. Did you see those holes for the RB’s or the speed and blocking and route running by WR’s? Special teams play? All much improved over last year. And dont get all caught up in the Gurley talk, he completely wiffed on a pass block and Marshall seemed to catch everything. That is why the order is the way it is. Just because you can run dont make you the best player.

Huh?

September 1st, 2012
10:54 pm

josh from nc…so you want to blame that mess that happened today on vanilla play calling I see…UGA should have been able to beat the crap out of Buffalo with 5 plays.

It was Buffalo for God’s sake.

Rob

September 1st, 2012
11:03 pm

Reading these comments is amazing to me. We had a few questions to answer coming into this game and they all got answered.
1: RBs and yes plural bc go back and watch dump pass to Samuel that Murray barely overthrew and u will see an SEC caliber block by Keith Marshall. All 3 major RBs averaged close to or over 5 yards a carry!! All those getting on gurley only having 8 carries is amazingly stupid! The kid went into locker room with cramps and had trouble with blocking schemes. Look at last years leading rushin team in nfl in the saints they never had a RB go over 100 yards!!! It’s RB by committee and it works look at our stats and ull see!
2: OL looked solid. They weren’t great but definately didn’t look bad. They opened holes and gave Murray time to throw. I see this group gelling and improving every game
3: special teams looked good!!! Kickoff Coverage and returns looked impressive and Barber avg 51 on his punts. The walk on put his 2 pooch punts inside 15 and Morgan showed he had leg after shaking off nerves
4: secondary! This impressed me the most. In the places where injuries and suspensions hurt us the most we looked very solid. This group will be stout when back at 100% and will be good until then

Only weak spot I saw was the first half play of our front 7 on D. This was disheartening but the thing is we already know how good they are and the second half the starting D didn’t give up a first down!!!

45 points with a vanilla offense and running clock out in red zone is pretty impressive and bobo called good game mixing run and pass while showing next to nothing for next week. D could have been better but I didn’t notice a single package that looked anything but stock so I have a feeling our pressure level has many more notches that Grantham can dial up.

All in all good game dawgs and time for these fans that continuously try to complain about something to admit they are wrong and we have something to look forward to this year!!!

Huh?

September 1st, 2012
11:05 pm

Rob….glad you feel good. Nobody else does.

SC Dog fan

September 1st, 2012
11:13 pm

A mickey mouse team, maybe, but it’s still the sort of debut that seems scripted by fate. I’ll bet that kickoff return will be featured near the start of his bio film 30 years from now. There will never be another Herschel, but that was very, very good to see. It’s been awhile.

josh from nc

September 1st, 2012
11:13 pm

I do feel Good I’m a Dawg through and through! I aint happy but I will still support my dawgs and coach no matter if they go 0-12 or 12-0. I believe more than 90% of these so called fans on here will jump on the band wagon only when there going into SECCG with a 11-1, 12-0 record. Good post Rob yes all those ? did get answered. There was nothing but generic play on both sides today.

joe jenkins

September 1st, 2012
11:17 pm

bobo is a disgrace to uga football

joe jenkins

September 1st, 2012
11:19 pm

grantham will resign at the end of theyear…after franklin sets an ncaa rushing record for qb’s in one game against us next sat

Sad Richards

September 1st, 2012
11:49 pm

Hey josh… keep drinking the kool aid pal….. its the same ole crap. :roll:

Ed

September 1st, 2012
11:54 pm

UGA Grad 2012, the Gators didn’t even sell out their game today. And the ESPN commentators noted that fans were leaving even though it was only a 10-point game and Bowling Green was driving with still 6 minutes to play.

It’s not just Georgia. The quality of the nonconference opponents keep going down, but the ticket prices are going in the other direction. Maybe the fans are finally voicing their opinion with their wallets.

chipper

September 2nd, 2012
12:23 am

Mark Richt is a passive misfit.

BK is an EWOK

September 2nd, 2012
12:25 am

noon kickoffs are the best. no one worth a damn plays in primetime

Gurrley = Herschel

September 2nd, 2012
12:26 am

we have the best CFB tradition ever! everyone else jealous

Reality Dawg

September 2nd, 2012
12:54 am

The home opener sucked. I wish Nick Saban was our coach. He gets his guys READY TO PLAY FROM DAY ONE!

I’ve NEVER seen that from mark richt. AND I’ve never seen him WIN A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.

GET IT TOGETHER UGA!!!

Desert Fox

September 2nd, 2012
1:07 am

Bill King

September 1st, 2012
9:05 pm

Our 1st team defense giving up a 94 yd and two 75 yard drives to a “cupcake” doesn’t mean much??? Ask CMR if he feels that way. Ask 90% of your bloggers if it doesn’t mean much. It was damn embarrassing!!

Yellow Fuzz

September 2nd, 2012
5:20 am

Glad y’all dont play Alabama, LSU or Arkansas.

dawg man

September 2nd, 2012
5:31 am

Todd Gurley needs to make sure he holds on to the football when crossing the goal line…his 3rd td wasnt a td because reply showed he started celebrating too soon…kinda like Desean Jackson did…something like that could cost us dearly……………..

Wilson

September 2nd, 2012
5:35 am

More of the same old SH%$. I said it over 10 years ago and I still stand by it, as long as Richt is the MAN we will never win a National Title. It’s pathetic that we have been relegated to one of those teams that beats up on the rest of the weak teams, and having our As^&@ handed to us when we have to play someone decent. And if we play someone good, well we are dead. I don’t believe I can remember the last time we had a meaningful win. We have seen the same teams year in and year out, USC, Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, and a few others continue to dominate. We must face facts that we are ALSO RANS and always will be. I’ll always be a Dawg, but my memories of 1980 are growing very dim, and I only got to read about those games since I was stationed on a 1 mile wide rock at the end of the Aleutians at that time. They do know how to tease you just enough to keep the attendance up, but be rest assured when the REAL games come around I for one would rather not watch the embarrassment anymore.

banders1

September 2nd, 2012
7:24 am

OSU… Boise State… BUFFALO! How many times can we START the season as if we’ve haven’t practiced together in months. Richt’s a good recruiter but a joke as a coach.

Just Sayin

September 2nd, 2012
7:29 am

Please remind Gurley to act like he has been in the end zone before. I like the H. Walker approach of just handing the ball to the ref after a TD. I know it was Todd’s 1st college game, but I would love to see him be cooler in the future when he scores. Also, I think one of the best players in the game was Michael Bennett……and the TV announcers agree with me. I was most impressed with his blocking which was mentioned at least 3 times.

Just Sayin

September 2nd, 2012
7:33 am

I still believe Keith Marshall will explode soon……… He was inches from breaking several big ones. Good feeling having KM and TG back there because it looks like Boo may be out for a while.

The rev al

September 2nd, 2012
7:43 am

Contrast Alabama in their first game against a too ten opponent to Georgia’s opening game against a weak team. Alabama was poised and made few mistakes. Georgia played sloppy and uninspired. Both ala and ga had a lot of new players but Alabama was better prepared. I admire mark Richt as a person but his teams have showed a lack of poise and discipline. Richt wastes great talent while Saban gets the most out of his. Richt is NOT an Elite coach. Saban is.

This dawg will bite you!

September 2nd, 2012
7:57 am

Hard for the team to get up for Buffalo, I watched the game and I did not get up and bark one time. Next week will be different! GATA

Jorge O'leary

September 2nd, 2012
8:54 am

This dawg will bite you!
September 2nd, 2012
7:57 am

Hard for the team to get up for Buffalo,

You have to get the team up for every game, if you can’t you will always have a couple of losses. Richt has done less with more on the coaching versus talent aspect of the team. And quit blaming Bobo. Don’t yuse guys remember that Richt was going to be more involved with the offense, designing plays, etc? You bought into that b.s. hook line and sinker. Don’t think your running game is going to look like that when you play quality SEC competition. 3 losses for you guys this year.

Frank Lane

September 2nd, 2012
8:59 am

I have been a UGA fan since 1945. Worst fans of any major football program. How can people leave any game before it is over? Ought to sell tickets to true fans rather than those who give a lot of money.

Bat

September 2nd, 2012
9:16 am

1. Once Malcome went out in the 2nd half, Murray settled down. When Malcome played most of the first half, Murray really sturggled and only completed 46% of his passes. When Gurley & Marshall played in the second half, Murray settled down and completed 66% of his passes. You look for chemistry, and the offense had better chemistry when Gurley & Marshall were rotating. Offense scored 18 points in first half with Malcome at RB, scored 20 with Gurley & Marshall.
2. The rush defense stuggled and gave up nearly 200 yards. Against the run, John Jenkins played terrible, Jones didn’t look sharp, neither did C Wash. Christian Robinson spent all day chasing backs and receivers a few steps too slow, just had an awful day, seemed like Buffalo was targetting C Rob and picking on him. Branden Smith got manhandled in blocking.
3. There was a few good defensive efforts. Garrison Smith & Geathers played more in the 2nd half, and plugged the run. Jarvis got his 2 sacks. Swann had a lot of tackles. Connor Norman didn’t get beat deep.
4. Richt needs to stop having his field goal kickers try 45+ kicks, it hurts their mojo. Start with some easy ones. A few misses, and this new guy could lose his confidence like Blair Walsh did afte rhis long misses.
5. Gurley was the best player on the field. Sure hope Richt rewards Gurley with more touches, but don’t count on it. The tema plays better when Gurley is in there, MUCH better team chemistry when Gurley’s on the field, hope Richt can see that, but I doubt it.

ugaclassof2004

September 2nd, 2012
9:26 am

Yeah basically what it comes down to is as long as we are happy with keeping Richt, then in essence we’re happy with keeping Bobo, because Richt isn’t going to fire him. And ipso facto: we’re content to be second tier. We are nowhere, and I mean nowhere, near Alabama or LSU’s level right now. South Carolina, Arkansas, UT, Auburn, UGA….we’re ALL playing for 3rd place right now. And how excited can you get about that?

Don’t get me wrong: there are some GREAT things that you get with Mark Richt. He is a wonderful man and has been our second best coach after Vince Dooley. In some ways he has been better than Dooley. But Dooley was smart enough to A.) hire quality assistants, B.) chew guys out when they needed it, and C.) get out of the way and let his studs be studs(i.e. Herschel Walker). Richt doesn’t do these things….or he’s inconsistent when he does do them. The frustrating thing with Richt is that he has shown glimpses of being a championship caliber coach( see 2007), but he just can’t put it all together for an entire season. As hard as I have been on Richt the last few years, I would love nothing more than for the guy to win a National Title, I really would. But to do that he needs to change certain aspects of his personality and how he coaches, and he seems ambivalent in regards to doing that.

Wallis the Dog

September 2nd, 2012
9:33 am

Couldn’t believe Russ was nekked! He has an air conditioned doghouse, for Pete’s sake! I’ve never seen any of the UGAs out of uniform during a game. Unbelievable.

Fire Seiler!

ugaclassof2004

September 2nd, 2012
9:33 am

Oh yeah…. and we better blow Florida out of the water come October. They are horrible!! If we lose to them this year, Richt should be fired on the spot, seriously they are THAT bad.

TD

September 2nd, 2012
9:44 am

Florida & South Carolina looked a lot worse than Georgia. LSU wasn’t overly impressive. Arkansas gave up a lot of points to Jack St. Mizzou & Tenn looked pretty good.

Right now I’d ranked SEC:
West:
Bama
LSU

EAST:
Mizzou
UGA
Tenn

Whiznot

September 2nd, 2012
10:31 am

Aaron Murray again demonstrates that he is not a pocket passer. Overthrowing open receivers by ten yards. What a joke!

OrlandoDawg

September 2nd, 2012
11:06 am

Go Dawgs! Gentleman, start your engines! We will be just fine…remember Ogletree and Vasser would have stopped many of those runs and with six of our stars out, that’s half a starting team, we will be ok…take that to the bank! Go Dawgs!

funny...

September 2nd, 2012
11:08 am

to the idiot that posted about UF’s stadium being full. Uhhh, actually there were sections in the upper deck that were empty. Sanford was closer to capacity than Ben Hill Griffith.

Do some research, idiots.

AltamahaDawg

September 2nd, 2012
11:21 am

I’d be more worried about the Defense IF it was really the missing players that were the issue.

It was the very talented veteran front line that came out flat, and when they woke up, (with help from Grantham I would suspect) they shut them out. Bufflao did them a favor by putting up such a fight. Ego deflation is a helpful thing.

I don’t think anybody actually thinks Georgia front 7 is not going to play FAR better than that this season.

Spike 80DF

September 2nd, 2012
11:47 am

Dawgs win, Mizzou is next.

Haters gonna hate…..

Mr. Dawg

September 2nd, 2012
12:32 pm

I like most pepole expected an easy blow out for the Bulldogs. There’s no doubt that you can’t have the number of starters the Bulldog were missing without it having a negative impact. But I still thought they would win by a larger margin. Who knows? Maybe Buffalo isn’t as bad as they usually are. I thought they played pretty well. Either way, if the Bulldogs play Missouri the way they played yesterday they will lose. The players must step up!!

DrDawg

September 2nd, 2012
12:57 pm

I thought the whole season boiled down to South Carolina. Now after their lackluster loss to Vandy, I think it all comes down to Tennessee who looks dangerous. We will handily whip Florida. TN looks like the surprise of the SEC. BAMA looks unbeatable.

chazzo

September 2nd, 2012
12:58 pm

Ultimately, despite some disappointments and some negative comments from yours truly: a “W” is a “W” and the only poll that matters comes out in January.

Whip Mizzou!

chazzo

September 2nd, 2012
1:01 pm

UGA is a team that will get better every week. They had better get better quick for next week.

Top Row Dawg

September 2nd, 2012
1:04 pm

3 TD’s by “My God a” Freshman RB.

3 TD passes by Murray, only 10 from all time UGA record.

All the KO’s to the end zone.

Looking forward to Rock Bridge State Park visit and late night pitcher at Harpo’s in Columbia.

jrmdvm1

September 2nd, 2012
1:09 pm

I am one who truly hopes that Buffalo is going to be better this year than was expected. But, we didn’t look nearly as good as I expected. My issue is that we always seem to start our seasons slowly. I know that we were “vanilla” for Buffalo, but we were just as sluggish in the Boise St. game last year. Yes, Alabama was playing a better opening opponent than we were this year, but not last year. Alabama looked crisp, and they seemed already used to game speed timing. Is it possible that Murray’s overthrows were because he doesn’t use the same energy in practice as in a game? Or, were the overthrows because our receivers don’t get jammed as effectively in practice as in the games? Why do our “flair passes” to the wide recievers and backs seem to develop slowly, when other teams seem to hit the receiver “in stride”? Alabama through a fade to the tight end that almost completely fooled Michigan. They had been successfully running the ball, and when the ball was snapped on that play, it wasn’t obvious that it was going to be a pass play. Sometimes it seems to me that, even on play-action passes, that whether we are going to run or pass is completely apparent as soon as the ball is snapped. I would just like to see us looking “crisp” from the beginning of the season. It just seems that we take several games to get used to what is game speed. Is that because we use the “THUD” idea in practices? Just wondering. Go DAWGS!

Johnnyvet

September 2nd, 2012
1:32 pm

Leave the players alone. They don,t need or want your help. I want them to play football and have FUN. If they play as hard as they can play, an can look in the mirror the next and say to themselves that they had FUN and played hard., then let them alone. Play Bulldog football an listen to yourself. After football real life bagans. JUST HAVE FUN

dawg4life

September 2nd, 2012
1:40 pm

TG3 has been unleashed!!!!!!!!!

Dawg Tired

September 2nd, 2012
1:49 pm

@Just Sayin at 7:29AM – Thanks for seeing that Bennett is very good. Because he is very good, this coaching staff will not start him once Marlon Brown is healthy. It is irrelevant to this bunch that Bennett is better than Brown. One word” Crazy!