After Georgia’s 35-21 loss to Boise State was in the books and the Bulldogs had slogged their way back to their locker room in the depths of the Georgia Dome, senior cornerback Brandon Boykin stood up in the center of the room and yelled for his teammates’ attention.
“Before Coach Richt talked, I just told them we have a whole season left to play,” said Boykin, one of four captains for the game. “I told them, ‘this was a hyped game and everybody wanted us to do what we’re supposed to do, but it didn’t happen. We can’t get our heads down because we’ve got a whole season to go.’ Everybody’s positive now and we’re going to be ready for this next ballgame.
Boykin certainly did all he could. The cornerback from Fayetteville, in addition to playing the whole game on defense and finished with six tackles, a pass breakup and a tackle for loss, also ended up with 190 all purpose yards.
Eighty yards came on the first and only offensive play of Boykin’s career, a touchdown on a counter play after lining up in the backfield.
“That’s something we worked on,” Boykin said. “I was just fortunate for it to open up like it did with the blocking and everything. But the bottom line is it means nothing because we didn’t win the game. But if coach Richt or Coach Bobo wants me to play offense any time I’m all for it.”
Samuel gets starting nod over Crowell
Junior Richard Samuel said he was surprised to get the start at tailback over freshman Isaiah Crowell at tailback.
“I was surprised because I felt like he got more reps than me the last two weeks,” said Samuel, who was sidelined a quadriceps injury toward the end of preseason camp. “We run an equal rotation at the position but, yeah, I was a little bit surprised.”
Samuel, who played his first two seasons on offense, was moved from linebacker late this summer after attrition robbed Georgia of its top two rushers from last season, Washaun Ealey and Caleb King. Samuel opened the game with a two-yard run. He finished with 12 yards on seven carries.
Crowell had impressed his coaches and teammates while getting the majority of work with the No. 1 offense during the preseason. He came in the game on Georgia’s second possession and lost a yard on his first carry.
“Aaron [Murray] tripped me a little bit,” he said with a slight chuckle.
But overall Crowell fared a little better, finishing with 60 yards on 15 carries. So he could get the nod against South Carolina.
“It was tough to find holes,” he said. “Boise did a good job running to the ball.”
Injuries take toll
Starting inside linebacker Alec Ogletree left early in the first quarter with an injury to his right foot. Early indications are Ogletree is doubtful for next week. The majority of Ogletree’s snaps were filled by walk-on Jeremy Sulek and junior Michael Gilliard.
Also late in the first half, Boykin and the other starting inside linebacker, Christian Robinson, went down with injuries. Both players returned in the second half. Robinson said he got a “couple of hip-pointers.”
“Between Christian Robinson and Ogletree, we couldn’t really afford to lose one of those two guys,” Richt said. “The drop off was going to be pretty steep, with true freshmen and a walk-on in there. They’re good kids and they’re busting their tails, but it was a position we felt we really couldn’t afford that type of an injury.”
Richt did not know the extent of Ogletree’s injury. His right foot was in a walking boot after the game.
Starting left guard Kenarious Gates left the game with a “lower left leg” injury in the second quarter. That was also an area the Bulldogs could ill-afford an injury. Gates was expected to be Georgia’s fill-in if a tackle went out with an injury. Sophomore Dallas Lee, who previously hasn’t played in a game, replaced Gates.
“Gates leaving was not good for Georgia and not good for Gates,” Richt said. “But Dallas [Lee] was a guy we felt comfortable could go in there and play guard. I’ll have to watch the film to see how he did.”
Seven true freshmen made their debut for Georgia in the first half: wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell — who started — cornerback Nick Marshall, safety Corey Moore, cornerback Damian Swann, cornerback Chris Sanders, inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera and Crowell.
Several other players played in their first games. Junior college transfer nose guard John Jenkins, redshirt freshman defensive backs Mark Deas and Connor Norman, linebacker Kosta Vavlas, wide receiver Michael Bennett and wide receiver Michael Erdman. Also sophomore linebacker Jarvis Jones started following a redshirt season in 2010 after transferring from USC.
The Bulldogs had five first-time starters. On offense, WR Marlon Brown, OG Chris Burnette and Mitchell lined up during the first play of the game. Mitchell was not in the game on the first snap, but the original first down play was called back after a false start penalty. CB Jordan Love lined up for Georgia its first down on defense.
Rambo, Thomas don’t play
Free safety Bacarri Rambo and tailback Carlton Thomas both were held out due to suspensions for unspecified violations of team rules. Both will be back for South Carolina.
Richt had confirmed Thomas’ suspension but didn’t say anything about Rambo until after Saturday’s game.
“He is eligible to play next week,” Richt said. “He was suspended for the first game for the usual team rules violation. Carlton Thomas will play next week, too.”
Rambo started all 13 games at free safety last season. Thomas was Georgia’s leading returning rusher, but was not expected to start this season
Bobo back in press box
Mike Bobo was calling plays from the pressbox again on Saturday. It was part of a ploy by Georgia to play a hurry-up offense and make call from above.
The Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator had been calling plays from the sidelines since October of 2009, when he moved down to the field midway through the season “to get a better feel of things” and talk face-to-face with quarterback Joe Cox after a few poor offensive efforts in a row.
Now in his fourth season as Georgia’s offensive coordinator and 11th as quarterbacks , Bobo started out coaching from the press box in 2007 and 2008.
Rocking in the ATL
Georgia-Boise State wasn’t the only game in town this weekend. In fact, there were all kinds of events taking place in Atlanta, including a Braves game, Dragon*Con, the Black Gay Pride Parade and NASCAR racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Also, the Sports Radio 680 The Fan was organized a concert in Centenniel Olympic Park for the rock band O.A.R. Needless to say, downtown Atlanta was jam-packed and jamming on Saturday.
All of which made Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan very happy. He hadn’t taken an official census, but he was pretty certain all the major downtown hotels were booked Friday and Saturday night.
“There are 12,000 rooms downtown and I can’t imagine there’s one of them that has availability,” Stokan said on the Georgia Dome field before the game. “Imagine what it’s going to be like next year when we have two games.”
Next year the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will hold a doubleheader on this weekend, with games between Auburn-Clemson and Tennessee-N.C. State. And yes, Dragon*Con.
What the Big Dawg ate
Georgia’s new head nutritionist Jenn Ketterly traveled with the team and planned all the Bulldogs’ meals in advance of and after Saturday’s game, down to what kind of oil in which to cook the food.
UGA stayed at the Omni Hotel downtown and Ketterly dictated every meal the Bulldogs ate while there. She said Saturday’s pregame meal was chicken, steak, green beans, roasted potatoes, macaroni and cheese and a full fruit bar.
Scene and heard
Tight end Orson Charles was rocking a newly-acquired mohawk haircut. Perhaps in honor of UGA’s “spread the red” promotion for the game, it was dyed red. . . . UGA legend Herschel Walker and former Boise State star defensive end Ryan Winterswyk delivered the official game ball in pregame ceremony. They were actually driven to midfield in a car. . . . Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced that it was time for the kickoff. . . . Georgia won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. . . . Former Bulldogs fullback Shaun Chapas (Dallas Cowboys) and tailback Caleb King (Minnesota Vikings) were cut by their respective teams on Saturday. . . . Before Saturday, Georgia was 7-8 in domes, including 4-3 at the Georgia Dome. Two of those wins clinched SEC championships.