LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jordan Jenkins’ stats in his second career start won’t win him any awards. The freshman outside linebacker from Harris County – starting in place of injured All-American Jarvis Jones – finished with just two tackles and was given half-credit for a tackle for loss.
But defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was heaping praise on the young understudy after Georgia’s 29-24 win over Kentucky. He was particularly pleased about Jenkins’ actions on one play for which Jenkins got no statistical credit.
Kentucky ran a reverse right with wide receiver Demarco Robinson on a critical third-quarter drive. Jenkins was not fooled, however, and held his ground on the offense’s right flank. Robinson had to turn up field and Alec Ogletree took down Robinson hard for a six-yard loss. The third-down play simultaneously took Kentucky out of field-goal and four-down range.
“Actually we ran that same play on him in practice and it wasn’t as successful,” Grantham said with a grin. “So we ran it again on Thursday and he played it like he did tonight. That’s the thing with Jordan: the more he plays and does things, he gets better and better. He fought through it a little bit today, but he played well enough for us to win and I think he’s got a tremendous future. People will recognize him moving forward.”
Jenkins played almost every snap of the game because Jones could not go. Jones traveled with the team, but Georgia held out its star defender because of a right-ankle injury suffered in the South Carolina game. Jones is also battling a strained groin and a gimpy left knee.
“He definitely could not have played tonight,” coach Mark Richt assured. “We’ll have to wait and see if he can practice Monday.”
Jenkins, for one, was not thrilled with the job he did.
“Well, the first half was not good for me,” he said. “The first play I got my neck cut up. The second play I thought I had a stinger and the third play I got my ankle rolled. I couldn’t set the edge well because I didn’t want to hurt my ankle”
Nevertheless, Grantham said the experience is going to prove valuable for Jenkins.
“He’s the kind of player we want to get at the University of Georgia,” Grantham said. “He’s fun to coach because you see progress each time he plays. He’s going to make a lot of plays in his career.”
Grantham said Jones is considered “questionable” for the Florida game.
Special teams snafus continue
Georgia’s comedy of errors on special teams continued on Saturday.
Marshall Morgan missed his third point-after attempt of the season in the second quarter. The wide-right miss was the Bulldogs’ fifth extra-point fail this year. They have also had one blocked and mishandled a snap on another. Morgan has had three other extra-point kicks carom through off the uprights.
Morgan made his only field goal attempt Saturday — a 27-yarder to end the first half — but it, too, hit the left upright and bounced through. Morgan is 5-of-6 on field goals for the season.
“I believe he’s hit the upright more than anyone in the nation,” Richt said. “He probably has our record for that, I’d think.”
Saturday’s miss came with 8:28 left in the second quarter after the Bulldogs drove 75 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. His miss left Kentucky in the lead, 14-13.
Georgia also had a penalty nullify an otherwise well-conceived fake punt that saw Malcolm Mitchell gain 33 yards on fourth-and-two at midfield. Richt explained that Georgia’s shift left Kosta Vavlas, who wears the number 38, uncovered on one end, making him an ineligible receiver. Richt wasn’t certain immediately but thought the officials “probably got it right.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray’s 427 yards passing was a career best for the junior from Tampa and his four touchdown made him Georgia’s all-time leader for passing scores with 75. David Greene was the previous record holder with 72 from 2001-04.
Murray also set a school mark for completion percentage (78.95) for quarterbacks with at least 30 completions. He broke the mark previous held by his current quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo (76.92 vs. Georgia Tech in 1997). Murray’s passing yardage was the second most in the SEC this season. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel had 453 against Arkansas.
Senior Tavarres King had a career-high 9 catches, as did fellow wideout Malcolm Mitchell. His 188 yards was King’s fifth 100-yard receiving game in his career and second this season. It was the first time since 2010 that Georgia had two receivers go over 100 yards. Mitchell had 103.
Georgia free safety Bacarri Rambo led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles and linebacker Alec Ogletree and strong safety Shawn Williams had 10 apiece. Rambo and Williams were each assessed personal fouls, Rambo on a late hit out of bounds and Williams for a facemask.
Etc. . . .
Senior defensive end Abry Jones had to leave the game in the first quarter with a left ankle injury. Coaches weren’t sure if he’ll be able to practice next week. . . . Sophomore Chris Conley caught his first touchdown pass of 2012 and the third of his career in the third quarter. . . . It had been 20 games since Kentucky had scored on its opening possession of a game. The Wildcats did it in precision-like fashion, driving 84 yards in 13 plays over 5:01 to score on a four-yard pass from Jalen Whitlow to wide receiver Aaron Boyd. . . . Georgia’s 97-yard scoring drive in the first quarter was the longest since a 99-yard drive against Ole Miss in 2011.