Georgia wins a big game the way big games ought to be won

Aaron Murray proved he can indeed win a big game, and he did so in superb style. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray proved he can indeed win a big game, and he did so in superb style. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Any time the Georgia Bulldogs beat a Top 10 team is cause for celebration, but what made Saturday’s 41-30 win over South Carolina even better was the way Mark Richt’s team won.

There was the aggressive game plan that featured a daring early onside kick when the Gamecocks least expected it, a couple of fourth-down conversions, a defensive take-away that ruined a South Carolina first-down play, a goal-line stand that stopped a series that began first-and-goal on Georgia’s 8-yard line, a couple of gutsy third-down touchdown passes by a scrambling Aaron Murray, and a pounding Bulldogs running attack when it was needed.

But most impressive of all was the way Georgia closed out the game. After the Dogs had held the Gamecocks and an unnecessary roughness penalty and then a false start had taken the ball back to about Georgia’s 6-inch line with 8:28 left on the clock, I’m sure a familiar, depressing scenario was running through the minds of many of the fans at Sanford Stadium: Georgia would end up having to punt, South Carolina would score again, the Dogs would give up the ball again and the UGA defense would have to hang on desperately to secure a win.

Hey, a win’s a win and we would have taken it. But what actually transpired instead was so much sweeter.

After Todd Gurley had ground out a couple of yards, few expected Georgia to go to the air, but Mike Bobo made a brilliant call for a play-action pass to young fullback Quayvon Hicks (who had another great game) to take the ball out to the 25. And then the Dogs just started pounding away at the Gamecocks and eating up clock.

There isn't a better running back in American than Todd Gurley. (Jason Getz / AJC)

There isn't a better running back in American than Todd Gurley. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Thanks to the running of Gurley, Hicks, and freshman back Brendan Douglas (spelling a banged up Keith Marshall), the Dawgs ran out the clock on a 14-play drive, 13 of them on the ground.

Run the damn ball, indeed!

Despite the 11 point winning margin at the end, it was a close game, with the two teams going eyeball-to-eyeball for a half, with the score knotted at 24-24. After a Bulldogs three-and-out to open the second half, the Gamecocks drove into Georgia territory and looked to have converted on fourth-and-5 when Josh Harvey-Clemons, returning from suspension, knocked the ball away from Carolina QB Connor Shaw and the Dogs recovered.

Georgia only got a field goal out of the ensuing drive, to go up 27-24, then the Dogs’ young defense, which had its rough moments during the game but came up big in the end, forced South Carolina to punt again and Georgia put together a big drive that included key runs by Gurley and Hicks, a couple of pass receptions by Marshall and Michael Bennett and then Gurley catching a touchdown pass after Murray rolled out (which generally produces good results for Georgia).

Carolina got back on the board after getting set up deep in Georgia territory thanks to a 79-yard run by Mike Davis on which the Bulldogs defense lost containment (defensive coordinator Todd Grantham called it the worst play of the game). But the PAT failed and Georgia led 34-30.

Then, backed up deep in its own territory by a false start and facing a third-and-13, Murray rolled out (!) and hit Justin Scott-Wesley, who turned on his track-star speed on an 85-yard scoring play.

A couple of other thoughts from the game: Can we now retire that tired old refrain about Murray not being able to win the “big” game against a Top 10 team? He was in great form against the Gamecocks, completing 17 of 23 passes (and that was with three passes dropped by receivers) for 309 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. If that’s not big-game play, I’ve never seen it.

And Gurley, who rambled for 130 mostly tough yards on 30 carries, further cemented his position as the best tailback in America.

Oh, and while Sanford Stadium crowds often are lambasted for not getting into the game enough, the fans at Saturday’s game stayed loud and proud from beginning to end.

A fine day to be a Bulldog! Feel free to share your thoughts on Georgia’s big win.

Go Dawgs!

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

157 comments Add your comment

bardawg

September 7th, 2013
10:27 pm

Couldn’t be happier, this one is REAL SWEET!

bardawg

September 7th, 2013
10:29 pm

Should I say the tired od cliche, First?

Owen Scott, III

September 7th, 2013
10:35 pm

Sure go ahead, bardawg. OK, let’s hear the trolls trash AM this evening. And did anyone feel like they were watching a Big 12 contest?

Macclenny_dawg

September 7th, 2013
10:38 pm

RAMBO

September 7th, 2013
10:41 pm

Whose that coming down the track?

Malinda

September 7th, 2013
10:41 pm

Awesome win! So very proud of our Bulldawgs!!

Ft.Worth dawg

September 7th, 2013
10:53 pm

Finally! Thank you Bobo for running to the outside! See, it works! Thank you UGA fans for letting Murray know the play clock was running down! Thank you God for the sun that blinded the USC’s receiver on that one play! All in all, great job! Now, don’t. Let “the Mean Green” sneak up on you. Coach McCarty is a good coach!

Owen Scott, III

September 7th, 2013
11:02 pm

The sun-assisted pass defense play was just an example of a break falling our way. Meanwhile, ESPN is raving about AM and Mike Bobo as I write.

SC Dog fan

September 7th, 2013
11:05 pm

Thank you, Georgia Bulldogs! I can’t express how much I enjoyed watching Spurrier shake his head and throw his notes down after that goal-line stand. And that final drive is what we’ve hoped for in several key games over the last few years, when we just needed to maintain possession to win. Loved watching Douglass slam into a worn out SC line. That was just mean!

GeorgiaBorn

September 7th, 2013
11:08 pm

When Bobo started going back up the middle in the 2nd half on 2nd and long and 3rd and short, I admit I started to get really worried. Especially when we had 1st and goal from the 10 and ran up the middle for 1 yard and then 2nd and goal from the 9 and ran the same play for no gain. I was dying. My hat goes off to the OL not only for the holes that were opened all night but also for the containment of Clowney. The “best player in America” was a non-factor. Something to be said for that. I go to sleep tonight as a very happy Bulldog Fan!

HotDawg

September 7th, 2013
11:10 pm

And enough with the bobo bashing. The play calling is always great when the players actually execute the plays correctly and with success.
Yet, when players don’t execute the plays, it’s always the OC’s fault?
True, there are times when calls are questionable. But not to the level and frequency the critics want you to believe.

Dang Good Dawg

September 7th, 2013
11:11 pm

I’m right there with you GeorgiaBorn. I was praying Bobo wasn’t going back to that same gameplan. The toss sweep was eating SC alive. Before the game, that moron Lou Holtz said that “Clowney will kill Georgia today”. Our OL scheme held Clowney in check the entire game, except for one sack. It was a thing of beauty. Mostly, I am happy for Murray. He needed this win.

SenoiaDawgs

September 7th, 2013
11:15 pm

Awesome game.

bobo mix it up with the toss and middle. It’s one or the other but never mixing it up. It’s clear the line, fullback, te have got the toss play figured out on blocking.

Man if this defense comes around hold on folks. I believe they will because one thing I have noticed in the first two games their is often pressure on the QB but these two could run too good for the young D

HotDawg

September 7th, 2013
11:20 pm

To all the haters, critics, and prognosticaters of a sc win over ga…….
man up and give Murray, Bobo, Richt, and the Dawgs deserved credit (minus any juvenile insults).
Make it a pure compliment. Or are you too much a baby to give compliments.

HotDawg

September 7th, 2013
11:22 pm

Last 2 weeks show what a difference homefield can make.

HotDawg

September 7th, 2013
11:26 pm

Nothing like being a Bulldog on Saturday night!
To all a good night.

Ft.Worth dawg

September 7th, 2013
11:28 pm

Hotdawg, the play calling is not “always great” when the whole world knows that your going to run the ball up the middle and you get stopped time after time, but you continue to run it up the middle in hope that one day it will work! Hopefully that is all in the past! Great job Bobo!

Minnesota Dawg

September 7th, 2013
11:29 pm

That goal line stand was what we needed. It reminded me of old times when the dawgs would bend but not break!

HotDawg

September 7th, 2013
11:32 pm

A part of me wanted to run the score up on Spurrier at the end. Remember ‘95 in Athens, anyone?
But us Dawgs have more class than the visor.

MorgantonMike

September 7th, 2013
11:33 pm

Freakanomics: 41-30

HotDawg

September 7th, 2013
11:43 pm

I understand FtWorth….just some of the barrage of past criticisms has been unwarranted.
But yes, there is also warranted criticism at times.
Should not be over the top vitriole, though.

drbasic1

September 7th, 2013
11:49 pm

where oh where is…….loserdawg…….buckeye…..buckeye1…..buckeyejr……..gtbob……johnmcknight…..and the other haters…….tampagator……….bubba(whatever)……….

HotDawg

September 7th, 2013
11:52 pm

Over the shoulder, fade pass into the end zone must have been eliminated from playbook.
That was always Bobo’s predictable, signature play in red zone, no matter the situation.
Does seem to be mixing it up more this year. Except for the 3 up the middles against clemson. Ughh

RED DOG 77

September 7th, 2013
11:57 pm

Yep, HotDawg I thought the same thing…………but we are The University of Georgia BULLDOGS!!!……..I’m thinking about young Mr. Langley tonight……the kid got toasted a couple times today, but what an education he received, he will pick himself up, dust himself off, and before you know it he’ll be a top shut-down corner…………That’s what coach Richt does, teaches kids how to become men…………….GO DAWGS

HotDawg

September 7th, 2013
11:58 pm

Congrats to offensive line, too…..very nice comeback from week 1
Helps without the crowd in your ear and the defense knowing your silent, snap count (see clemson game).
Kenerious Gates – Get well soon. We still need you.

RED DOG 77

September 8th, 2013
12:00 am

I was referring to ‘95 in Athens

RED DOG 77

September 8th, 2013
12:01 am

Can anyone tell me what the status of Gates is?

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:07 am

So when is Gameday coming to Athens and making a lovefest for UGA, like they did for Clemson last week…..maybe when LSU comes to town in 3 weeks?
What better game is there that weekend?

SwimDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:07 am

Brendan Douglas’ new name in the stands today was “Quake,” because it’s an Earthquake when he hits you. The freshman tailback ran the ball like Larry Csonka from the 1972 Miami Dolphins. What a nice complement to Gurley and Marshall!!

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:10 am

Don’t need a Gates injury to disrupt progress of offensive line.
They looked better without all the switching around this week.

colorado dawg

September 8th, 2013
12:12 am

I loved every minute of this win and I hope Pollack continues to pick against us like he did on ESPN this morning, because we love being dawg fans 24/7 365

Creativity Dawg

September 8th, 2013
12:12 am

MONKEY off Richts back!

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:13 am

The players and coaches were raving about Douglas in preseason practice before he got hurt.
He looks healthy now. And nice to see what they were seeing.

Creativity Dawg

September 8th, 2013
12:17 am

yep HotDog..he played better than Gurley, right

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:20 am

Colorado….don’t get too upset with Pollack. He’s doing his job for a national show and can’t show bias every week towards Georgia. Herbstreit doesn’t for his school, Jesse Palmer doesn’t do it for FL. etc, etc
Doesn’t mean he is rooting against GA.
Give him a little slack.

Eddie...Lee...and..Ivory...

September 8th, 2013
12:21 am

My boys resting since that ace whuppin of Elon…Murray finally won a big game after yrs!!!! Like to read a few comments bout him being the man besides the hating you Dawgs have had for him.

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:22 am

Creativity…?…..where did I say Douglas played better than Gurley?
Check your eyesight.

Creativity Dawg

September 8th, 2013
12:28 am

HotD…If you are going to show accolades why the thrust for a 3 carry performance?

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:32 am

Eddie Lee……I’ve always supported Murray as our quarterback….so quit assuming about “you Dawgs” and address specific critics if you’ve got a problem.

RED DOG 77

September 8th, 2013
12:33 am

Come on people! Can anyone tell me what the extent of Gates’ injury is?

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:33 am

Creativity….?….go pick a fight with your nose.

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:35 am

Reddog…do not know how bad…hurt foot, ankle, and knee.

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:40 am

Douglas looks like a nice 3rd back to have in lineup. That’s it. What hidden meaning do you read into this comment?
Are you anti-Douglas for some reason. Or actually mad someone made a nice comment about his performance?
Jeez. What is your problem, Creativity?

RED DOG 77

September 8th, 2013
12:41 am

Thanx for gettin’ back to me………maybe we’ll find out Sunday sometime, hope it’s not too bad

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:43 am

Quayvon Hicks has played extremely well the last 2 weeks also.
Always nice to have a productive fullback.

Eric C.

September 8th, 2013
12:44 am

drbasic1, they’ll be back when they recover from this win.

Congratulations to Aaron Murray and the OL…fantastic game in a must-win game. He looked phenomenal, as did Gurley and Hicks. It also seems the Dawgs have cut back on some of the dumb pentalties so far in the first two games.

The defense is certainly a concern…but Boyd and Shaw were very tough assignments to start a season. It will be nice to see them face Mettenberger who is more of a pocket passer and less of a runner.

It was good to see the offense using more of the play clock in the second half (left too much time at the end of the half) and it will take more of that while the defense continues to grow.

HotDawg

September 8th, 2013
12:45 am

Goodnight all.

RED DOG 77

September 8th, 2013
12:46 am

Talk about tailback U! next year you’ll have Gurley, Marshall, Douglas, Sony Michell, and Nick Chubb……………..WOWZA

Eric C.

September 8th, 2013
12:49 am

Hicks is special and I really impressed with Douglas as well. Along with Gurley, these are tough hard-nosed backs that the Dawgs have been missing.

Eric C.

September 8th, 2013
12:50 am

RED DOG 77, agree…back to the good ole days