Game Day! Previewing Georgia vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
- Breaking in a new quarterback. Aaron Murray, Georgia’s redshirt freshman QB, will be playing in his first real football game in 21 months and in his first college game. It’ll be a chance for him to grow into the job a bit before going on the road to South Carolina a week later. The Dogs need him to manage the offense, make good decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Oh, and one more thing: Stay healthy.
- Debuting a new defense. You’ve heard about it since January. Now it’s showtime for Georgia’s 3-4 defense. New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who has never before attended a game in Sanford Stadium, promises an aggressive, attacking style designed to pressure the quarterback and create turnovers. The players are looking forward to putting the new D on display. “I think a lot of people will be very happy with what they see,” linebacker Darryl Gamble said.
- Who’s missing. Georgia will be playing without running back Washaun Ealey, last season’s leading rusher; wide receiver Tavarres King, last season’s second leading receiver; and safety Alec Ogletree, the freshman who was to have made his college-football debut. All three are suspended from the game because of recent arrests. And as of late Friday, Georgia still had not received a ruling from the NCAA on the inquiry launched in July, leaving unclear the status of wide receiver A.J. Green.
A Georgia win would . . .
- Be the Bulldogs’ ninth victory in 10 season openers under Mark Richt, with the only loss being last year’s at Oklahoma State.
- Extend the Dogs’ record under Richt in non-conference games to 39-4, including 26-1 at home.
A Louisiana-Lafayette win would . . .
- Defy all odds, what with Georgia favored by 28.5 points.
- Be the Ragin’ Cajuns’ first victory in 35 tries against an SEC opponent.
Keep an eye on …
- For Georgia: The offensive line. The five starters have combined for 127 college starts and are being counted on to smooth the way for a rookie quarterback this season. The unit was disrupted in preseason practice, with left guard Cordy Glenn and center Ben Jones missing extensive time because of mononucleosis and arthroscopic knee surgery, respectively. But both practiced this week.
- For Louisiana-Lafayette: Junior quarterback Chris Masson completed 222 passes for 2,406 yards last season. One of his favorite targets figures to be 6-foot-6 tight end Ladarius Green. Defensively, the Ragin’ Cajuns are an experienced unit, with all juniors and seniors starting. The defense is led by senior middle linebacker Grant Fleming.
The numbers game
- 58: Consecutive sellouts in Sanford Stadium, including today’s game, which sold out earlier this week. (Every Georgia home game has sold out since the start of the 2001 season, Richt’s first in Athens.)
- 6-6: Louisiana-Lafayette’s record last season, including 4-4 in the Sun Belt conference.
- 1,216: Yards rushing by Georgia in its final five games last season, compared to 877 in its first eight games.
- $875,00: Amount that Georgia will pay Louisiana-Lafayette for playing the game.
- Last meeting: Georgia and Louisiana-Lafayette have never played.
The bottom line
After opening last season as an underdog on the road against a top-10 opponent — Oklahoma State — Georgia opens this season as a heavy favorite at home against a non-BCS opponent.