Archive for November, 2012

Notebook: Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray celebrates his birthday in style (updated)

Two plays after having to be helped off the field following a hard hit, Aaron Murray came back in the game and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Two plays after having to be helped off the field following a hard hit, Aaron Murray came back in the game and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

AUBURN, Ala. – For the first time since he can remember Aaron Murray’s parents weren’t at his football game. His father, Denny, recently underwent radiation treatment in Tampa and was unable to make the trip and his mother Stephanie remained back home at her husband’s side.

That it was Murray’s 22nd birthday made it a bigger bummer. But Mom and Dad sent their son his favorite treat — chocolate-covered strawberries for this birthday — and he shared them with his teammates at the team hotel Friday night.

“When I got to the hotel last night there were balloons everywhere and chocolate-covered strawberries decorated like footballs,” Murray say. “They were great.”

With his parents watching on television Saturday night, Murray continued to share treats with his buddies. He threw touchdowns …

Continue reading Notebook: Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray celebrates his birthday in style (updated) »

Georgia-Auburn quotes: ‘We just came out here with a mentality to shut them out and get the offense rolling’

WHAT THEY SAID AFTER GEORGIA’S 38-0 WIN OVER AUBURN

“It was a very outstanding performance by everybody — offense, defense, special teams.”

— Georgia coach Mark Richt

“We’re very excited about winning the East. We’re very excited about going to Atlanta. There’s no doubt about that. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. … I think we’ve been improving as we go, and hopefully we keep it going.”

— Richt on clinching the SEC East title and a berth in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome

“Georgia is a very good football team. They are certainly worthy of their ranking. But I didn’t feel like we played well in any phase of the game.”

— Auburn coach Gene Chizik

“Our goal really was to start fast. That’s why we came out with the up-tempo, the no-huddle. We do no-huddle all the time, but we went a faster pace no-huddle with some set plays. … (Auburn) had done a great job of defending pro-style offenses all year, and the spread had given them a little trouble. …

Continue reading Georgia-Auburn quotes: ‘We just came out here with a mentality to shut them out and get the offense rolling’ »

UPDATED: After beating Auburn to win East, Bulldogs focus sights on bigger goals

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Georgia's Christian Robinson (45) and Devin Bowman (37) celebrate among their fans, who came to Auburn in large numbers in anticipation of clincing the SEC East. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia's Christian Robinson (45) and Devin Bowman (37) celebrate among their fans, who came to Auburn in large numbers in anticipation of clincing the SEC East. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

AUBURN, Ala. – The Dogs are back in the Dome. But that’s not the end-goal this time around.

With a resounding 38-0 win over Auburn Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium, No. 5-ranked Georgia clinched a berth in the SEC Championship game for a second year in a row.

The Bulldogs (9-1, 7-1 SEC) closed out the conference season tied with Florida (9-1, 7-1) as SEC Eastern Division champions. But they will represent the East  in the Georgia Dome on Dec. 1 based on their 17-9 win over the Gators on Oct. 27. South Carolina (8-2, 6-2), which beat Georgia 35-7 on Oct. 6, finishes third in the East.

“This feels great,” senior safety Bacarri Rambo said. “This is what all the seniors and everybody that stayed out of the NFL came back for. We still haven’t finished. This is just a ticket to the …

Continue reading UPDATED: After beating Auburn to win East, Bulldogs focus sights on bigger goals »

Storylines: New starting lineup for UGA offensive line versus Auburn

Auburn, Ala. — Greetings from the pressbox at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It’s an absolutely gorgeous night for football. It’s actually moving pretty rapidly from what was a warm and sunny afternoon (73 degrees) to a clear and brisk night. It will probably be pretty cool by the time this one is over.

Which, again, makes it a perfect night for football. Georgia is in its traditional silver britches and white jerseys for tonight’s game. The only real question mark heading into this one was would start for Chris Burnette (left shoulder) at right guard and who might start in place of split end Marlon Brown, lost last week to a season-ending knee injury.

Burnette, who started every game at right guard this season, did not travel with the team. Sophomore Mark Beard will get his first career start at left tackle, left tackle Kenarious Gates will slide inside to left guard and left guard Dallas Lee will flip over to the right side to start at Burnette’s guard position.

As for Brown, Tavarres …

Continue reading Storylines: New starting lineup for UGA offensive line versus Auburn »

Bulldogs can punch their ticket to Georgia Dome with win over rival Auburn

Gene Chizik will coach Auburn against Georgia on Saturday amid reports that the school has already decided to dismiss him at the end of the season. (AP photo)

Gene Chizik will coach Auburn against Georgia on Saturday amid reports that the school has already decided to dismiss him at the end of the season. (AP photo)

AUBURN, Ala. — The line of Georgia’s detractors could probably wrap around Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday and Steve Spurrier would probably be at the front of it.

“They lost to us by four touchdowns,” the South Carolina coach would shout. “They didn’t have to play Alabama or LSU from the West; they got Florida the week after the Gamecocks had softened them up.” And so on.

But all the squawking won’t change this fact: No. 5 Georgia will be the Eastern Division representative in the SEC Championship game if it can get by a troubled Auburn team Saturday on The Plains. And for the Bulldogs, who would be playing in the Georgia Dome for the second year in a row, that accomplishment is not one to be diminished.

“I don’t think the average fan realizes how tough it is every game,” said Georgia quarterback Aaron …

Continue reading Bulldogs can punch their ticket to Georgia Dome with win over rival Auburn »

UGA AD Greg McGarity likes direction of basketball program under Mark Fox

Georgia coach Mark Richt, here with point guard Vincent Williams, hasn't won big with the Bulldogs. He's 50-46 entering his fourth season. But AD Greg McGarity believes Fox is "doing things the right way" and building a strong foundation for the future. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Georgia coach Mark Fox, here with point guard Vincent Williams, hasn't won big with the Bulldogs. He's 50-46 entering his fourth season. But AD Greg McGarity believes Fox is "doing things the right way" and building a strong foundation for the future. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

ATHENS — The fourth season of the Mark Fox era of Georgia basketball gets under way Friday when the Bulldogs play host to Jacksonville in the season opener at Stegeman Coliseum.

Generally the fourth year of a coach’s tenure is thought to be a make-or-break time in the ruthless world of modern college athletics. As Fox himself pointed out in the preseason, this is the first year he has recruited every player on his roster.

But Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity doesn’t sound like an administrator who is looking to throw down any ultimatums this season.

“I have all the confidence in the world Mark’s going to lead our program in the right way and in a way we can all be proud of,” McGarity said. “I …

Continue reading UGA AD Greg McGarity likes direction of basketball program under Mark Fox »

Video: In latest ‘Back Porch Chat,’ UGA’s challenges versus Auburn are examined

In another edition of the “Back Porch Chat, CineSport’s Noah Coslov and I talk about the challenges facing No. 5 Georgia as it visits Auburn on The Plains on Saturday. . . .

Continue reading Video: In latest ‘Back Porch Chat,’ UGA’s challenges versus Auburn are examined »

Notebook: Damian Swann emerges as playmaker on UGA defense

On a Georgia defense with no shortage of high-profile players, cornerback Damian Swann has called a lot of attention to himself the past two Saturdays.

Against Florida, he forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and sacked a quarterback. Against Ole Miss, he recovered two fumbles, one of which he returned 53 yards, and made another sack.

“Just play every play,” Swann said, “because there’s no telling what could happen.”

He was especially surprised by what happened on his second fumble recovery against Ole Miss.

“I just looked up, and the ball was coming,” Swann said. “I just grabbed it. I thought it was Christmas already.”

Swann, a sophomore from Atlanta (Grady High), has stepped up his game as Georgia’s defense has hit its stride after disappointing performances earlier in the season.

In the past two games, the Bulldogs have held opponents to 121 yards rushing (75 by Florida and 46 by Ole Miss) and forced nine turnovers (six by Florida and three by Ole Miss). Georgia won the …

Continue reading Notebook: Damian Swann emerges as playmaker on UGA defense »

Georgia-Auburn game ‘flip side’ of two years ago (with video)

For a reminder of how quickly fortunes can turn in college football, consider what has happened to the Georgia and Auburn programs since they last met at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Entering the Nov. 13, 2010 game, Auburn was 10-0, en route to a 14-0 season and the national championship. Georgia was 5-5, headed toward a 6-7 finish that left coach Mark Richt on the hot seat.

Dogs one win away from SEC East title

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray says Auburn will be "playing to ruin our season." (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

Flash-forward to Saturday night, when the teams will meet again at Auburn.

The Tigers will show up with a 2-7 (0-6 SEC) record that has coach Gene Chizik’s job in jeopardy, while the Bulldogs will bring an 8-1 (6-1 SEC) record and dreams of reaching the national title game.

“Two years ago, Auburn didn’t lose a single game, and now they’ve only won two. It shows you that college football is crazy,” said Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings, who quickly added: “And also they had a guy named Cam Newton (in …

Continue reading Georgia-Auburn game ‘flip side’ of two years ago (with video) »

Notebook: WR Chris Conley ready again to step up for a fallen comrade

Georgia's Chris Conley (31) gives the Bulldogs more of a vertical threat at the slot receiver than they had with Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia's Chris Conley (31) gives the Bulldogs more of a vertical threat at the slot receiver than they had with Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS — This is getting to be old hat for Georgia’s Chris Conley.

Conley, a sophomore wide receiver from Paulding County, has emerged as the chief replacement for injured starter Marlon Brown. Brown, a senior and the Bulldogs’ co-leader with 27 receptions, was lost for the season to a knee injury against Ole Miss this past Saturday.

In Georgia’s base offensive set, the Bulldogs will go with senior Tavarres King and sophomore Malcolm Mitchell at their two wideout positions. But when they go to three wides – and Georgia has done that quite often this season – it’s the talented and capable Conley who will step into Brown’s all important slot position.

Georgia’s coaches made that determination this week and, really, well before that.

“Conley was starting to play a little Y, the slot receiver, for us …

Continue reading Notebook: WR Chris Conley ready again to step up for a fallen comrade »

Georgia’s offensive line seeks to keep Aaron Murray upright against Auburn

With the exception of the first half against Ole Miss this past Saturday, protection provided by Kenariouos Gates and Georgia's offensive line has been mostly good for quarterback Aaron Murray. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

With the exception of the first half against Ole Miss this past Saturday, protection provided by Kenariouos Gates and Georgia's offensive line has been mostly good for quarterback Aaron Murray. (UGA photo by John Kelley)

ATHENS — Georgia’s Aaron Murray has had a well-documented arrangement with his offensive line this fall. If the line manages to keep Murray upright, the Bulldogs’ quarterback will buy them all the ice cream they want on Sunday. They call it “Sundaes on Sundays.”

And at an average of 308 pounds apiece, the Bulldogs’ linemen can eat a lot of sundaes.

But there were no frozen desserts for Georgia’s grunts this past Sunday — not after Murray ended up getting sacked five times against Ole Miss.

“Nope,” Murray said, laughing. “A deal’s a deal.”

The Bulldogs’ linemen lodged no complaints.

“Shoot, the way he got hit, we do not deserve ice cream or a pat on the back or anything,” sophomore center David Andrews said. “A deal’s a deal and he’s hung in there with that …

Continue reading Georgia’s offensive line seeks to keep Aaron Murray upright against Auburn »

Voter turnout not great in Georgia Bulldogs’ precinct

ATHENS — Georgia coach Mark Richt opened his news conference Tuesday by talking about the ongoing presidential election.

“I hope everybody got a chance to vote,” Richt said. “I see some stickers out there; that’s awesome. I voted a week or two ago and that was nice. Got a chance to get it done early, which was good.”

Apparently Richt didn’t share that urgency with his players. Very few of the contingent that was made available for interviews on Tuesday apparently got the chance to vote. Most of them said they wanted to but just didn’t have time.

“Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to vote because I was registered in Atlanta but I didn’t have time with the practice schedule and school to drive down and back,” said junior defensive tackle Garrison Smith. “I looked into an absentee ballot but by the time I looked into it, it was too late to do it. I don’t know who can find the time to go back to their home and vote.”

Aaron Murray, a Tampa resident, clearly couldn’t go home. He …

Continue reading Voter turnout not great in Georgia Bulldogs’ precinct »

Georgia football players constantly aware of risks for major injury

Georgia senior wide receiver Marlon Brown was lost for the season to a knee injury on this tackle by Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/US Presswire)

Georgia senior wide receiver Marlon Brown was lost for the season to a knee injury on this tackle by Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/US Presswire)

ATHENS – For John Jenkins, the harsh realities of the physical battle he had just waged didn’t hit him until the Florida game was over. Only then, when the adrenaline had subsided and he had to make the long walk to the locker room, did he realize how much he actually hurt.

“I didn’t really realize how tough it was until the end of the game when I felt how banged up my body was,” said Jenkins, a 6-foot-3, 358-pound senior noseguard who is playing with ankle and wrist injuries. “Sunday I was so sore. But during the game, my adrenaline was going so much I didn’t realize how tough and physical everything was.

“When the game was over it, like, drained out of me, mentally, emotionally and physically.”

This is the side of college football that people outside the game often forget about. Everybody knows …

Continue reading Georgia football players constantly aware of risks for major injury »

Bulldogs will face Brian VanGorder, Willie Martinez at Auburn

ATHENS – Three current and former Georgia defensive coordinators will be on hand Saturday night when the Bulldogs play at Auburn.

On one side, of course, will be Todd Grantham, in his third season as Georgia’s defensive coordinator. On the other side: Grantham’s two immediate predecessors.

Willie Martinez, a member of Georgia’s coaching staff from 2001-09 and defensive coordinator from 2005-09, is in his first season as Auburn’s defensive backs coach. Brian VanGorder, Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2001-04, is in his first season as defensive coordinator at Auburn, his fourth employer since leaving UGA.

VanGorder left Athens on his own accord for a job as linebackers coach with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. After one season in Jacksonville, VanGorder spent a year as head coach at Georgia Southern and five years with the Falcons, the first as linebackers coach and the last four as defensive coordinator.

Martinez, fired by Georgia coach Mark Richt after the 2009 regular …

Continue reading Bulldogs will face Brian VanGorder, Willie Martinez at Auburn »

No. 5 Bulldogs talk about overcoming injuries, not overlooking Auburn

ATHENS – Georgia coach Mark Richt and selected players met with the media on Tuesday to preview Saturday’s game against Auburn. The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (8-1, 6-1 SEC) are coming off a37-10 win over Ole Miss and can clinch the SEC Eastern Division title with a win over Auburn (2-7, 0-6) on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Of course, the main topic of the day was how the Bulldogs are going to go about replacing senior wide receiver Marlon Brown. The split end from Memphis was tied for the team lead in receptions with 27 and second in touchdowns (4) and yards (469) when he was lost to a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter this past Saturday. Brown is the second wideout lost for the year to a torn ACL. Sophomore Michael Bennett, who was Georgia’s leading receiver at the time, went down in practice the week of the Oct. 6 South Carolina game.

“We’re going to miss them (Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett),” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I’m not saying that the other …

Continue reading No. 5 Bulldogs talk about overcoming injuries, not overlooking Auburn »

Justin Scott-Wesley, Georgia’s other wideouts aim to step up in honor of Marlon Brown

Justin Scott-Wesley went 43 yards on this reception against Florida Atlantic, the only catch of his career to date. (UGA photo by Evan Stichler)

Justin Scott-Wesley went 43 yards on this reception against Florida Atlantic, the only catch of his career to date. (UGA photo by Evan Stichler)

By Ryan Black
For The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATHENS — Justin Scott-Wesley knew he wasn’t ready when he arrived at Georgia.

Stepping foot on campus last year with plenty of speed but minimal football acumen, the wide receiver was happy to take a redshirt in 2011 and use the time to refine his skills. The Camilla native had a standout showing at the annual G-Day game last spring, hauling in three receptions for 46 yards.

That spring success has yet to translate this fall, however. Scott-Wesley has only one catch for 43 yards. He also hasn’t appeared in a game since Georgia’s 48-3 win over Vanderbilt on Sept 22.

But after Marlon Brown suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury last weekend, Scott-Wesley believes his time to shine is finally at hand.

“I would hope so,” he said following Monday’s practice. “I’m just …

Continue reading Justin Scott-Wesley, Georgia’s other wideouts aim to step up in honor of Marlon Brown »

Bulldogs look for new wideouts to step up as life after Marlon Brown begins

Expect the Bulldogs to go to this guy a little more with Marlon Brown joining Michael Bennett on the injured list. Malcom Mitchell has averaged 4.8 catches per game since returning to receiver full time. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Expect the Bulldogs to go to this guy a little more with Marlon Brown joining Michael Bennett on the injured list. Malcom Mitchell has averaged 4.8 catches per game since returning to receiver full time. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

ATHENS – Life without Marlon Brown began Monday for the Georgia Bulldogs. That was their first practice for the Auburn game and their first without Brown this season.

Make no mistake about it: Brown’s loss was a big blow. His season-ending knee injury is as hurtful as Michael Bennett in Week 6 and probably makes it twice as bad since Bennett was already gone.

The best thing about Georgia’s receiving corps this season is it doesn’t have a “feature guy” who Aaron Murray feels like he has to throw to every series. There are great things about having an A.J. Green or Sammy Watkins or Marqise Lee, but it’s even better if you have a 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D as Georgia did in Bennett and Brown and Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell. When coupled with a quarterback …

Continue reading Bulldogs look for new wideouts to step up as life after Marlon Brown begins »

Georgia’s Aaron Murray earns SEC offensive player of week honors

Aaron Murray's SEC player of the week performance against Ole Miss came despite being sacked 5 times during the game. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Aaron Murray's SEC player of the week performance against Ole Miss came despite being sacked 5 times during the game. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – Another week, another honor for Georgia’s Aaron Murray.

The Bulldogs’ junior quarterback was named the SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his performance against Ole Miss this past weekend. In the 37-10 win over the Rebels, Murray  completed 21-for-28 passes — including 13-of-15 in the second half — for 384 yards and four touchdowns. He hit 11 different receivers and hit four different targets for touchdowns, including Marlon Brown for 66 yards, Tavarres King for 66, Malcolm Mitchell for 42 and Rantavious Wooten for 23 yards.

Murray shared this week’s honor with Tennessee’s Tyler Bray, who threw for 530 yards and 5 TDs in a 55-48 win over Troy.

Murray now has 21 touchdown passes this season and 80 in his career, which is sixth in SEC history. He also leads the league for active players in total …

Continue reading Georgia’s Aaron Murray earns SEC offensive player of week honors »

Georgia advances to No. 5 in BCS standings

In a weekend that saw them move closer to the SEC Championship game, the Georgia Bulldogs also inched up in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

Georgia climbed one spot to No. 5 in the latest BCS standings, released Sunday night, becoming the highest ranked one-loss team and the second highest ranked SEC team.

Alabama remained No. 1 after Saturday’s last-minute 21-17 victory at LSU. Kansas State stayed No. 2, while last week’s Nos. 3 and 4 teams swapped positions – Oregon climbing to No. 3 and Notre Dame dipping to No. 4.

Georgia replaced LSU at No. 5 after staying on track for the SEC Championship game by beating Ole Miss.

Georgia will represent the SEC East in the Dec. 1 game at the Georgia Dome if it wins at Auburn on Saturday. Alabama will represent the Western Division in the Dome if it wins either of its two remaining league games: Saturday vs. Texas A&M and Nov. 24 vs. Auburn.

The top two teams in the final BCS standings will play for the national title Jan. 7 in …

Continue reading Georgia advances to No. 5 in BCS standings »

Knee injury ends Marlon Brown’s UGA career (updated)

For the second time this fall, Georgia’s football team lost a key wide receiver to a season-ending knee injury.

Marlon Brown will undergo surgery and miss the remainder of his senior season as a result of a left ACL injury suffered during Saturday’s victory over Ole Miss, Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday.

“His career at Georgia will be over, or is over,” Richt said. “… We’re very sad and sorry it happened for Marlon – and for Georgia, too.”

Nine games into the season, Brown is tied with Tavarres King for the team lead in receptions (career-high 27) and is second on the team to King in receiving yards (career-high 469). Brown finishes his UGA career with 55 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns (four this season).

His injury came one month after fellow receiver Michael Bennett sustained a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee at practice. Bennett led the team in catches and receiving yards at the time of his injury.

Unlike Bennett, who has two seasons of eligibility …

Continue reading Knee injury ends Marlon Brown’s UGA career (updated) »

Ogletree twins Alec and Zander put together night to remember for Mom and Dad

Junior linebacker Alec Ogletree leaped sky high to snatch his first career interception Saturday against Ole Miss. Ogletree also led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles and recorded a tackle for a loss for a safety. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Junior linebacker Alec Ogletree leaped sky high to snatch his first career interception Saturday against Ole Miss. Ogletree also led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles and recorded a tackle for a loss for a safety. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

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 …

Continue reading Ogletree twins Alec and Zander put together night to remember for Mom and Dad »

‘It was obviously a pretty good beating Georgia put on us today’ (and other postgame comments)

“Ole Miss came out and did a very good job. In the first half, I thought they outplayed us, but we outscored them. I thought their defense outplayed our offense in the first half. Our defense settled in pretty quick.”

– Georgia coach Mark Richt

“It was obviously a pretty good beating that Georgia put on us today. Offensively, we just couldn’t make any plays to give our defense much hope. It was the first time this season that I felt like we were zapped of our passion. We knew it would be really tough to score a lot of points against Georgia.”

– Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze

“I was talking to Cornelius (Washington) on the sideline right after it happened, and I said, ‘That had to be the four craziest plays that ever happened in football.’”

– Georgia cornerback Damian Swann on the bizarre second-quarter sequence that produced four turnovers (two by each team) in a five-play span

“I thought it was huge to score right there when we basically screwed up a one-minute drive with very …

Continue reading ‘It was obviously a pretty good beating Georgia put on us today’ (and other postgame comments) »

Big pass plays turned momentum to UGA

This 40-yard touchdown reception by Tavarres King 3 seconds before halftime proved to be a real momentun turner for the Bulldogs. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

This 40-yard touchdown reception by Tavarres King 3 seconds before halftime proved to be a real momentun turner for the Bulldogs. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS — Georgia had 73 offensive plays in Saturday’s victory over Ole Miss, but two stood out.

The first, notable for quarterback Aaron Murray’s convincing acting job, went for a 66-yard touchdown pass. The second, notable for its timing, went for a 40-yard touchdown pass.

Both came in the second quarter, enabling Georgia to turn a 10-0 deficit into a 14-10 halftime lead and establish the momentum that fueled a second-half rout.

To recap the improbable plays:

  • On third-and-1 from the Georgia 34 with about 10 minutes left in the half, Murray faked a handoff to tailback Todd Gurley and casually took a couple of steps seemingly away from the play, concealing from the defense that he still had the ball. Ole Miss bit on the fake as badly as can be bitten. By the time Murray turned back around and threw the ball, receiver …

Continue reading Big pass plays turned momentum to UGA »

UPDATED: UGA now one win away from SEC title game with 37-10 victory over Ole Miss

ATHENS — One win away.

That’s how far the Georgia Bulldogs are from returning to the SEC Championship game. They got one step closer to it Saturday with a harder-than-it-looked 37-10 win over Ole Miss on homecoming at Sanford Stadium.

To get all the way to the Georgia Dome — where they lost to LSU in the championship game a year ago — the Bulldogs will have to do what it has often had to do when it was in position to win a conference title. It will have to go through Auburn.

The No. 6 Bulldogs (8-1, 6-1 SEC) will repeat as SEC Eastern Division champions if they can beat their oldest rival next weekend in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers (2-7, 0-6), who won the national championship just two years ago, are still looking for their first conference win of season.

Because of what’s on the line next week Saturday on “The Plains,” Georgia’s postgame celebration was short-lived.

“I tried to start the minute the game was over,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I told them right away …

Continue reading UPDATED: UGA now one win away from SEC title game with 37-10 victory over Ole Miss »

Motivation will have to come from within as Bulldogs host Ole Miss for homecoming

Georgia is going to need linebacker Alec Ogletree (9) to have a great day providing containment on Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace today. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Georgia is going to need linebacker Alec Ogletree (9) to have a great day providing containment on Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace today. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

ATHENS — For the Missouri game, it was an opposing player’s accusation that Georgia plays “old man football.” For Vanderbilt, it was replaying the postgame antics of the Commodores’ coach from the year before. For Florida last week, it was Shawn Williams’ accusations that Georgia’s defense was soft and playing without passion.

In the Bulldogs’ three most impressive outings of the season, some sort of external motivation inspired the Bulldogs to a higher level of play. But what about this week, when Georgia plays host to an average Ole Miss team on homecoming? What about next week when the Bulldogs travel to Auburn to play a team that hasn’t won an SEC game?

No. 6-ranked Georgia will have only one place to go for motivation for those games — winning the SEC Eastern Division title and returning to the SEC …

Continue reading Motivation will have to come from within as Bulldogs host Ole Miss for homecoming »

Bulldogs welcome Young Harris, Pete Herrmann for basketball exhibition

ATHENS — Season No. 4 for Georgia men’s basketball coach Mark Fox gets under way tonight at 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs play host to Young Harris — coached by former UGA interim head coach Pete Herrmann — in an exhibition game. Georgia’s regular-season opener is Nov. 9 against Jacksonville.

The Georgia Bulldogs will welcome back Pete Herrmann on Friday. Herrmann finished a six-year tenue with the Bulldogs as interim head coach. He's now head coach at Young Harris. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Georgia Bulldogs will welcome back Pete Herrmann on Friday. Herrmann finished a six-year tenue with the Bulldogs as interim head coach. He's now head coach at Young Harris. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Asked what he hoped to see out of this first public outing, Fox said: “Certainly we want to be able to just play in front of a crowd, relax and learn how to play in front of people. That’s really not something we’ve done to this point yet.”

Georgia’s a little ahead of the game in that respect. The Bulldogs played four exhibition games in Europe late this summer. “We had a good crowd in one game,” Fox said, “but none of them spoke English.”

The Bulldogs will be trying …

Continue reading Bulldogs welcome Young Harris, Pete Herrmann for basketball exhibition »

Ole Miss’ progress gets ‘tall test’ at UGA

ATHENS – Ole Miss, one of two teams standing between Georgia and the SEC Championship game, shouldn’t be judged by its recent 16-game conference losing streak, according to UGA coach Mark Richt.

“What I see is a team that has a brand new head coach that’s brought a lot of energy to the program,” Richt said. “A lot of times, you just never know how close you are to winning and breaking through and having success.”

Ole Miss lost its final six SEC games in 2010 and went 0-8 in the league last season, resulting in a coaching change that saw Hugh Freeze replace Houston Nutt. The conference losing streak reached 16 when Ole Miss lost its first two SEC games this season to Alabama and Texas A&M.

But the Rebels broke through with a 41-20 win over Auburn on Oct. 13 and followed that with a 30-27 win at Arkansas, enabling them to bring a two-game winning streak into Saturday’s game at Georgia.

“I know it’s going to be a heck of a ballgame,” Richt said.

Even before the back-to-back wins, …

Continue reading Ole Miss’ progress gets ‘tall test’ at UGA »

On pace for 1,000-yard season, Todd Gurley ‘doesn’t seem like a freshman’

Todd Gurley before his first Georgia-Florida game. (AJC photo/Bob Andres)

Todd Gurley before his first Georgia-Florida game. (AJC photo/Bob Andres)

ATHENS – His teammates and coaches marvel that Todd Gurley doesn’t seem like a freshman, and the Georgia tailback is piling up statistics that quantify their point.

Two-thirds of the way through the regular season, Gurley is on pace to become just the second true freshman in Georgia football history to rush for 1,000 yards. His most impressive game yet — 118 yards on 27 fumble-free carries against a Florida defense that had not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season — lifted Gurley’s rushing total to 740 yards, which projects to 1,110 by the end of the regular season.

That would rank behind only you-know-who among first-year Bulldogs.

Herschel Walker ran for 1,616 yards in Georgia’s national-championship season of 1980, but the next most rushing yards by a UGA first-year freshman is Rodney Hampton’s 890 in 1987. One caveat: Knowshon Moreno ran for 1,334 yards in his debut season in 2007, but Moreno …

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Ole Miss LB Denzel Nkemdiche on UGA: ‘This game is extremely personal’

Ole Miss redshirt freshman linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche of Grayson leads the Rebels in tackles, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and interceptions. (Photo by 247Sports.com)

Ole Miss redshirt freshman linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche of Grayson leads the Rebels in tackles, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and interceptions. (Photo by 247Sports.com)

By MICHAEL CARVELL
AJC Recruiting Reporter

Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche began the season known as the brother of the nation’s No. 1-ranked high school senior, Robert. But he’s quickly making a name for himself in the SEC, becoming a vocal leader and one of the league’s better young players.

Nkemdiche, a Grayson High graduate, feels like he has something to prove when Ole Miss (5-3) goes for the upset against No. 6 Georgia (7-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

“The excitement is unreal. This is like a homecoming for me, and I just can’t explain how excited I am to play between the hedges,” Nkemdiche said. “I’m going to have so many friends and family there. This game is extremely personal.”

At 5 feet 11, 203 pounds, he’s the leading tackler for Ole Miss and will bring a little extra motivation this …

Continue reading Ole Miss LB Denzel Nkemdiche on UGA: ‘This game is extremely personal’ »