Georgia’s game with Georgia Southern Saturday went about like many people expected.
It took the Dogs defense about a half to really get a handle on the Eagles’ run-oriented triple-option offense, and Georgia’s offense came out suffering the seemingly inevitable letdown after the emotional high of winning the SEC East last week and were their own worst enemy, stalling drives with penalties and a couple of sacks, losing a couple of fumbles and dropping passes.
In the end it wasn’t close, with Georgia winning 45-14. But for most of a half the Dogs let the Eagles think they were really in this thing.
As the first half clock counted down with Georgia clinging to a 10-7 lead, it looked as if Southern might tie it up or even take the lead as they drove toward the Bulldogs’ goal line. But if you live by the cut block, you die by the cut block, which can easily turn into an illegal chop block. A timely flag for just that derailed the GS drive, resulting in a failed field goal attempt.
And then Aaron Murray and the offense finally got on track. Getting the ball back with 1:03 on the clock, Murray passed them downfield and hit Malcolm Mitchell for a touchdown with 4 seconds to spare.
From there, the Dogs never looked back. A more aggressive defense managed to disrupt the Eagle offense during the third quarter while Murray piled it on, scoring on two TD throws to Chris Conley and another to Tavarres King (a beautiful long over-the-shoulder pass).
The fourth quarter saw Georgia putting in the subs, with backup QB Parker Welch tacking on another touchdown pass to Justin Scott-Wesley and the second-string defense giving up another Eagles score.
For the day, Murray was 18 of 28 in the air for 330 yards and four touchdowns. And while Georgia’s running game was relatively quiet, with Todd Gurley the leader at 68 yards on 15 carries, it was enough to put the freshman over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
Conley led Georgia’s receivers with four catches for 76 yards and two TDs but Murray completed passes to eight different receivers, with tight end Artie Lynch pulling in three for 68 yards and TK getting three for 61.
Among the defensive standouts were Alec Ogletree, who had a dozen tackles and a fumble recovery, and Christian Robinson, who had nine tackles, including two for loss.
It’s also notable that placekicker Marshall Morgan had two tackles, one of which came on a special teams meltdown when he missed a long field goal attempt and the Georgia team started to walk off the field, forgetting it was a live ball until they saw an Eagles player returning it downfield.
Otherwise, Morgan had a solid game, making all his PATs and another field goal. And punter Collin Barber only had to kick one away all day, but he boomed it 51 yards.
In the end, the Eagles got their yards, as you figured they would, racking up 302 on the ground (same as they got against Alabama last year) but only 16 passing. But Georgia shut them down in the third quarter and the Dogs’ 474 yards of offense proved, as expected, to be too much for Southern.
And at least Georgia got four quarters of preparation for what they’ll face next week as the Yellowjackets come to town.
That’s my quick take. Feel free to share your own views of the win over Georgia Southern.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg