GEORGIA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
ATHENS – Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo finally made it back into Georgia’s lineup, and it was just in the nick of time.
Suspended for the first four games of the season, Ogletree and Rambo started against Tennessee on Saturday and finished as Bulldogs’ two leading tacklers. Ogletree, a junior inside linebacker, led the way with 14 tackles and 3 pass break-ups. Rambo, a senior free safety, recorded nine stops as the Bulldogs held on for a 51-44 victory.
“I’m happy that we got the win,” said Ogletree, who also tipped a pass that led to an interception. “I was eager to play. I’ve been waiting for a while now. I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on and keep preparing myself to come back full force. As a defense, we’ve got a lot to work on. We’ve got room for improvement.”
Georgia hasn’t yet resembled the defense many expected it to be, with nine starters returning from a unit that finished fifth nationally in total defense. The Bulldogs gave up 478 yards, 26 first downs and 85 offensive plays to Tennessee on Saturday.
But they made stops when they had to, most notably forcing the Vols into two interceptions and a fumble on their last three possessions of the game. The game ended on Sanders Commings’ second interception of the night with 7 seconds remaining.
“Their quarterback [Tyler Bray] did a great job tonight, and they have a lot of other great players,” Ogletree said. “We had some missed assignments and gave up a few big plays. But we got the W and you just have to tip your cap to them.”
Rambo was not made available for interviews after the game.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham thought both players did a good job considering it was their first game action in nine months.
“They need to be a little more consistent with their play,” Grantham said. “But to those guys’ credit, they kept playing and they improved as the game went along. I think they’ll get much better game two.”
Though the official statistics will show that Georgia gave up 44 points, head coach Mark Richt was quick to blame 21 of them on the offense. The Vols had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown and the Bulldogs twice fumbled deep in their own territory, each time leading to a Tennessee touchdown.
“They’re permitted to force a field goal there and I think they did at least one time,” Richt said. “But they made plays like they had to and sometimes it’s just going to come down to that.”
All offense for Malcolm Mitchell
For the first time this season, Malcolm Mitchell did not play a snap on defense. The sophomore from Valdosta had been the Bulldogs’ starting boundary cornerback until Saturday. Commings, who started at free safety the last two games, moved back into the starting role there with the return of Rambo.
Georgia had worked Mitchell on both offense and defense in practice this past week. But his only snaps Saturday came on offense and special teams. Mitchell had 4 catches for 31 yards and minus-10 yards rushing as a flanker and 28 yards on two kickoff returns and one punt return.
“He was our No. 2 nickelback behind ‘Cinco’ (Damian Swann),” Richt said. “If anything had happened to Swannie he would have been in there.”
Split end Michael Bennett (5 for 70 yards, 2 TDs) and tight end Arthur Lynch (3-75) were the leading receivers on the night. Tight end Jay Rome also had spectacular, leaping 21-yard catch.
Georgia is beginning to reach some rare air as an offensive football team. With 51 points on Saturday, the Bulldogs have scored 40 or more in all five of their games this season. That’s never happened in school history.
Georgia is now averaging a gaudy 48.2 points per game and, with 560 more yards, already has a total of 2,680 on the season, or 536 per game.
The Bulldogs are wasting very little time, either. They’ve scored on their opening drive now in four out of five games.
“We were moving up and down the field,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “Besides the turnovers we were doing a great job offensively. We knew what we could do. We know we’re heading in the right direction. We still have some work to do to clean up some more things.”
Vols’ Georgians show out
Two Atlanta-area Tennessee players did their best to make Georgia regret not offering them in recruiting.
A.J. Johnson, a sophomore linebacker from Gainesville, led the Vols with 11 tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. Junior tailback Rajion Neal of Fayetteville led Tennessee with 104 yards rushing on 23 carries and a touchdown.
“It was a dogfight,” Neal told reporters after the game. “I was excited to see the defense play like that; I was excited to see the offense keep pushing. But some things just didn’t go our way.”
Larry Munson honored
It was quite fitting that Georgia would choose Saturday to dedicate the Sanford Stadium radio booth in the name of Larry Munson. It was against the Vols in 2001 that the Bulldogs’ longtime play-by-play announcer coined one of his most famous calls with his “Hobnail Boot” phrase in Georgia’s dramatic come-from-behind win.
At nine minutes before Saturday’s kickoff against Tennessee, Munson’s sons, Michael and Jonathan, were among those present for the official dedication. Munson died Nov. 20, 2011.
A metal plaque was placed outside the “Larry Munson Broadcast Suite,” reading in part: “His dedication, loyalty, passion and extraordinary delivery over 42 years endeared him to Georgia fans in every city, state and nation around the world, always urging the teams, and fans, to ‘hunker down you guys.’”
Also, “Larry Munson Broadcast Suite” was stenciled in white paint on the red door and a colorful photo montage was framed and mounted on the back wall of the booth, where Munson’s successor Scott Howard the Bulldog Radio Network broadcast crew worked Saturday’s game.
Etc. . . .
Damian Swann may have had the play of the night for Georgia. The sophomore cornerback from Atlanta leaped high to snag a one-headed interception off a tip. It was Swann’s first career interception. . . . Kicker Marshall Morgan booted a 50-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to tie the game at 30-all. The freshman from Ft. Lauderdale is now 4-for-5 on field goals, including a season-best 52-yarder against Missouri. . . . Sophomore Marc Deas blocked a punt for Georgia in the third quarter. It was the second block of the year for the Bulldogs and the 21st by UGA under Richt.
Three bowls were represented in the press box on Saturday: the Capital One, the Chick-fil-A and the Gator. Of course, Georgia would just as soon not be playing in any of them. The Capital One traditionally takes the SEC Championship game loser from the East or a division runner-up. . . . Saturday’s contest represented the Bulldogs last home until Nov. 3, when they play host to Ole Miss. Georgia is at South Carolina and Kentucky the next two weeks, then plays Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 27.
COMPLETE COVERAGE OF GEORGIA-TENNESSEE GAME: