ATHENS — It was a very good night for Mr. and Mrs. Ogletree.
That’s because it was a great night for their two sons, both of whom play for the Georgia Bulldogs, 37-10 winners over Ole Miss on Saturday.
Alec Ogletree, a 6-foot-3, 241-pound linebacker. from Newnan, put up this stat line on defense – 11 tackles, an interception, a sack, a tackle for loss. Oh, and that tackle loss was good for two points.
“It was great,” said Ogletree, “It was my first safety and my first interception, so it was kind of a big game.”
Alec’s twin brother Zander Ogletree score his first career touchdown on an eight-yard run. Also a junior, Zander plays fullback for the Bulldogs and got his first start of the season and just the second of his career on Saturday. The TD run was his only carry but he also had two catches for 12 yards and another good night of blocking.
“It was great to have my parents there,” Zander said. “Me and my brother have been playing better since we grew up. For us to come to Georgia to play together and both have a great game like we did, it’s a blessing. My Mom and Dad have been pushing us and pushing us and telling us to play hard to the best of your ability and play with your heart and that’s what we did.”
Said Georgia coach Mark Richt: “It was good to see Alec and Alexander make big plays for Georgia in a very big game. I’m sure their mom and dad are proud of that.”
It hasn’t been easy for either player to get to this point. Both players missed the first four games, Alec’s due to an announced suspension, Zander for some reason that went unannounced. Alec, considered an NFL first-round draft prospect, moved immediately back into Georgia’s starting lineup. Zander had been biding his time until injuries to starting fullback Merritt Hall (ankle) and backup Quayvon Hicks (concussion) forced them out of the lineup. Zander came in on the second play of the Florida game on Oct. 27 and has been holding down the position since.
“I’ve just been waiting for my name to get called and it got called tonight,” Zander said. “I was able to get the ball and make a play.”
With Alec’s future next year very likely to be in teh NFL, the twin brothers are hoping they can extend their last season playing together. With a win over Auburn next week, Georgia will clinch an SEC Championship game berth and they’ll be assured of 14 games together this season.
They’re hoping this ends as a truly special season.
“We want to get back to the Dome,” Alec said. “Guys around here have been working since last summer to get to the Dome. We want a different outcome when we get back there this time and we’re looking much farther than that. We want to finish this season right and all our goals can still be accomplished.”
Marlon Brown’s status unknown
Nobody could — or would — say what the injury status was for Marlon Brown after Saturday’s game. But when people like fellow wide receiver Tavarres King said they were “praying over him” on the sideline, you know know the prognosis can’t be good.
Brown, a senior split end from Memphis, went down with a left knee injury with about 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The injury came in the midst of what was a big night for Brown. He was hurt at the end of a 30-yard catch and — including a 66-yard touchdown catch — he finished the night with a team-high 113 yards on three catches.
“Obviously it’s something with his knee,” Richt said. “We just don’t know yet.”
Georgia starting right guard Chris Burnette injured his left shoulder in the second quarter and did not return. The junior started his 21st game and 18th in a row.
Georgia and Ole Miss combined for four turnovers in five plays. It happened over a span of exactly one minute — from 6:58 to 5:58 in the second quarter.
“That was wild, wasn’t it?” Georgia coach Mark Richt remarked. “What was good is it seemed like we got a lot of yards after our (takeaways). Glad it didn’t end up hurting us.”
The series began with Georgia’s Keith Marshall fumbling on a run around left end midway through the second quarter. The fumble was caused by Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, a redshirt freshman from Grayson who didn’t get a scholarship offer from Georgia and said the game was “extremely personal” to him.
Ultimately the hot-potato exchange didn’t lead to anything. Georgia eventually went for a first down on fourth-and-2 at the Ole Miss 43 and failed to complete a pass to Malcolm Mitchell. Then the Rebels had to punt to end their next possession, setting up the nine-play, 84-yard drive for the Bulldogs to take the lead before the end of the half.
Too many sacks
A week after not giving up a sack against Florida’s vaunted defense last weekend, the Bulldogs gave up five in the first half to Ole Miss’ unheralded squad. They did not give up any in the second half.
“We had some miscommunications here and there with our backs and with the protections and we didn’t play good,” center David Andrews said. “Those are the two answers. It was unacceptable. You never want your quarterback to get hit like that. We just had to wake up. That’s what I kept saying.”
It wasn’t a huge surprise. Ole Miss came in averaging 2.75 sacks per game, which was fourth in the league. But the Bulldogs were giving up just 1.5 per contest, which was fourth best in the SEC.
Starts and stuff
Nose guard John Jenkins started Saturday’s game. The 6-foot-3, 358-pound senior suffered a sprained ankle in practice Tuesday and did not practice Wednesday, so his status was considered questionable. Jenkins’ start was the 16th of his two-year career in Athens and 12th in a row.
Also, Corey Moore got his first career start at wide receiver. Normally a strong safety on defense, the sophomore started on offense expressly to execute a crack-back block on the linebacker on a toss sweep. He executed his block to perfection, and Todd Gurley went 17 yards around right end on the opening play.
Sophomore cornerback Damian Swann had another big game. The Grady High grad had two fumble recoveries — returning them a total of 55 yards — a sack, a tackle for loss, a pass break-up and three tackles. . . . Saturday’s game drew a larger than usual contingent of NFL scouts to Sanford Stadium. The Falcons, Cowboys, 49ers, Bears, Chiefs, Bucs and Vikings all had representatives on hand. At least three Georgia players have been projected by prominent analysts as potential first-round picks in next year’s NFL draft: linebackers Jarvis Jones and Ogletree, both of whom are draft-eligible underclassmen, and Jenkins, a senior. Jones is ranked as the No. 1 prospect by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. Senior safety Shawn Williams also has been mentioned as a possible late first-rounder. … Punter Collin Barber had a 60-yard punt in the first quarter, his longest of the season. … The Oakland A’s Gold Glove-winning right fielder, Josh Reddick, attended the game. He is from Effingham County. . . .And Georgia’s homecoming queen, crowned at halftime, was Collette Toney, a senior from Snellville majoring in social studies education and history. Georgia improved to 72-17-2 on homecoming.
AJC’S FULL COVERAGE OF GEORGIA-OLE MISS GAME: