ORLANDO, Fla. – Give Alec Ogletree credit. He doesn’t dilly-dally on the football field, nor with important decisions. The Bulldogs’ dynamic junior linebacker admitted immediately after Georgia’s 45-31 win over Nebraksa in the Capital One Bowl that he intends to turn enter the NFL draft.
“Yeah, it was my last game,” Ogletree said after his 13-tackle performance Tuesday. “I’m just glad we were able to win because I know what kind of talent is on this team. This was the last game for a lot of guys on this team, a lot of seniors, and we all wanted to go out with a W. It’s tough to have to go out now, but I feel like it was the right decision for me.”
Ogletree goes out with a bang. In addition to his game-high tackle total, Ogletree forced and recovered a critical fumble when the game was tied in the third quarter, registered three tackles for losses and had a sack and two other quarterback hurries.
Despite missing four games of the season for violating UGA’s marijuana-use policy, the 6-foot-3, 232-pound middle linebacker led the Bulldogs with 111 tackles. That’s an average of 11.1 per game.
“He’s a dynamic player who can be a special inside ‘backer at the next level; that’s why we moved him there,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “He’s a guy who can play tight coverage, he’s a good blitzer and he’s a special player. His future’s very bright and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Asked what he’ll miss most about Georgia, Ogletree motioned to his teammates sitting around him during postgame interviews.
“Just the brotherhood we share here, from the fans, the coaches, the players, everybody,” Ogletree said. “Everything about it, really. I had a great time while I was here. But I’m excited to move on and see some new things.
“Of course there are some things I wish I could take back. But, you know, overall I feel like I had a great time here at Georgia and I’m going to cherish that ‘til I die. . . . It’s a family here and I’m always going to be part of it.”
Jones breaks record without knowing it
Jarvis Jones managed to break David Pollack’s school record for sacks in the season without laying a hand on the quarterback. So it’s understandable that he had no idea he’d achieved the milestone when he was informed of that fact in the postgame press conference.
Asked how it felt to set the new mark, Jones, asked incredulously, “Did I break it?”
“I didn’t even know that,” Jones said, laughing now. “So I’ve got the sack record? I didn’t even know. Thank you. That’s great.”
Jones, a junior and two-time All-American, came in needing two sacks to break Pollack’s mark set in 2002. The first came when a scrambling Martinez chose to slide down as Jones came running up out of a coverage assignment.
The record came with about one minute left in the first half when Martinez was called for intentional grounding. Jones wasn’t very close but was the nearest Georgia player to him, so he was awarded a sack.
That gave Jones 14.5 sacks for the season, more than any Georgia player in history. Two of Jones’ eight tackles were also tackles for loss, giving him 24.5 for the season. That also broke Pollack’s record of 23.5. Jones, who missed two games with injuries, finishes the season with 85 tackles and 168 in two seasons.
Draft analysts have the redshirt junior from Columbus as a consensus top five NFL pick in April.
Geathers still undecided
Noseguard Kwame Geathers said he still hasn’t made up his mind about making the jump to the pros. The 6-foot-6, 355-pound redshirt junior made his fifth start of the season on Tuesday, finishing with three tackles.
“I’m still undecided,” Geathers said. “I’ve got to go back home and talk to my family, spend some time with my mom, dad, brothers and talk to my coaches, too. I don’t know if it’ll go to the 15th or not, but I want to hurry us and make my decision. The quicker you make it the better it is.”
It should be noted that very few in the Geathers family have completed their college eligibility, including brothers Robert and Clifton Geathers, both of whom currently play in the NFL.
Malcolm Mitchell knocked out
Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was knocked out of Tuesday’s game early in the first quarter and did not return in the game.
Mitchell was in his normal position as the Bulldogs’ primary kick returner when Nebraska had to kick after giving up a safety. Mitchell bit hard on the return by Nebraska defensive Charles Jackson. Mitchell popped up immediately after the play but never returned. Later it was announced he’d suffered a concussion.
hett McGowan and Justin Scott-Wesley found themselves much more involved as a result of Mitchell’s absence. The two role players combined for 6 catches and 107 yards in their most offensive action of the season.
“You’ve just got to go out and prepare like you’re a starter,” said Scott-Wesley, who had three catches for 67 yards. “Coach (Tony) Ball tells us that all the time. Anything can happen. So I just try to be the best teammate I can be and just make plays when the time comes.”
Keith Marshall starts at TB
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo hinted this past weekend that the Bulldogs’ had a “Marshall Plan” for Nebraska. Sure enough, the freshman tailback Keith Marshall got his first career start on Tuesday.
Marshall ran the ball several times out of the “Wildcat” formation and scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray. But once again it was Todd Gurley who carried the rushing load. The freshman tailback led the Bulldogs with 125 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. Marshall had 8 attempts for 36 yards
Gurley had started the last 11 games for the Bulldogs. He finishes with 1,385 yards, second-only to Herschel Walker (1,616) as a true freshman and Georgia’s sixth best single-season rushing overall.
Etc. . . .
The Bulldogs’ first score came on a safety after safety Shawn Williams blocked a punt early in the first quarter. It was the second bowl in a row Georgia started off with a safety. Brandon Boykin tackled a receiver in his own end zone last year in the Outback Bowl. Williams finished his last game had 11 tackles but once again declined interviews after the game. . . . After all the talk of braving pain and the risk of further injury, Abry Jones didn’t end up playing at all in Tuesday’s game. In fact, the senior defensive end did not dress out. . . . Georgia’s 45 points were a bowl record, beating the old mark of 44 over Texas A&M in the 2009 Independence Bowl. The six touchdowns tied the school record also set in 2009 and at the 1942 Orange Bowl. . . . The Bulldogs scored at least 40 points for the eighth time this season.