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CFN Take: Georgia Blows Past The Hogs

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 18, 2014


2014 Georgia Bulldogs ... Head Coach: Mark Richt


Georgia Bulldogs
2014 Schedule
Record: 6-1

Aug. 30 Clemson W 45-21
Sep. 6 OPEN DATE
Sep. 13 at So Carolina L 38-35
Sep. 20 Troy W 66-0
Sep. 27 Tennessee W 35-32
Oct. 4 Vanderbilt W 44-17
Oct. 11 at Missouri W 34-0
Oct. 18 at Arkansas W 45-32
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 Florida (in Jax)
Nov. 8 at Kentucky
Nov. 15 Auburn
Nov. 22 Charleston Southern
Nov. 29 Georgia Tech

Oct. 18 Georgia 45, at Arkansas 32
And You Care Because … Arkansas took a 6-0 lead on a one-yard Alex Collins run, but that would be the best thing that would happen to the Hogs all day. The extra point was blocked, and then it was all Georgia as Nick Chubb and the offense ran all over the Hogs on the way to a 38-6 first half lead. Chubb tore off runs from 43 and three yards for scores, and Hutson Mason ran for a score and found Michael Bennett for a seven-yard touchdown. But it was a 54-yard Dominick Sanders fumble return for a touchdown that really put the game away – and the Bulldogs would need the points. Arkansas kept on fighting, and while the game was well out of reach, Brandon Allen threw three touchdown passes and Alex Collins ran for a six-yard touchdown to pull within 13, but it was way too late. Mason’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Chris Conley in the fourth kept the Bulldogs comfortably ahead.
What Else? Georgia RB Nick Chubb ran 30 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns
- Arkansas QB Brandon Allen completed 28-of-45 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns with two picks
- Turnovers: Arkansas 4 – Georgia 0
- Rushing yards: Georgia 207 – Arkansas 126
Game Rating: C-

Oct. 11 Georgia 34, at Missouri 0
And You Care Because … The Georgia defense dominated throughout, forcing four Maty Mauk picks, and the offense didn’t have a problem without Todd Gurley as Hutson Mason, Brendon Douglas, and Nick Chubb all ran touchdowns and Marshall Morgan connected on two field goals. The Tigers managed just 147 yards of total offense thanks to the Georgia dominant performance highlighted by Quincy Mauger coming up with two of the four interceptions.
What Else? Georgia RB Nick Chubb ran 38 times for 143 yards and a score
- Missouri QB Maty Mauk completed 9-of-21 passes for 97 yards and four interceptions, and finished with -14 rushing yards
- Georgia QB Hutson Mason completed 22-of-28 passes for 156 yards and a score, and ran for a touchdown
- 3rd down conversions: Georgia 12-of-21 – Missouri 0-of-7. Time off possession: Georgia 42:23 – Missouri 17:37
Game Rating: D

Oct. 4 at Georgia 44, Vanderbilt 17
And You Care Because … Georgia scored 21 points in the first quarter as Todd Gurley ran for touchdowns from five and 14 yards out, and Chris Conley caught a 44-yard touchdown pass. Conley came up with a second scoring grab with seven seconds to play in the second half, but the Bulldogs didn’t put the game away until late in the third when Devin Bowman returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown. Vandy got short touchdown runs from Ralph Webb in the second and Dallas Rivers in the fourth.
What Else? Georgia RB Todd Gurley ran 25 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 24 yards, and completed a 50 yard pass.
- Vanderbilt quarterbacks combined to completed 16-of-31 passes for 188 yards with a pick
- Georgia QB Hutson Mason completed 11-of-17 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns with an interception
- The two teams combined to convert just 6-of-23 third down chances
Game Rating: C

Sept. 27 at Georgia 35, Tennessee 32
And You Care Because … Todd Gurley ran for two scores and the defense hung on for dear life as Georgia needed to battle to get by Tennessee. The Vols took a 10-0 lead on a one-yard run from Jalen Hurd, but the Georgia offense took over with 21 straight points with Hutson Mason running for a score and hitting Nick Chubb for a 20-yard touchdown, and Gurley getting in from one yard out. Tennessee kept pressing with Justin Worley throwing two touchdown passes, but he was knocked out for a bit with an elbow injury, and Gurley kept producing with a 51-yard touchdown dash. The Bulldog D came up with a fumble recovery for a score, but Worley rallied the Vols back with a touchdown drive finishing with a Marquez North six-yard catch. Up three, Georgia was able to run out the clock.
What Else? Georgia RB Todd Gurley ran 28 times for 208 yards and two score
- Tennessee QB Justin Worley completed 23-of-35 passes for 264 yards and three scores. Nathan Peterman, when he came in, completed 4-of-9 passes for 20 yards.
- Tennessee LB A.J. Johnson made 17 tackles with half a tackle for loss, Jalen Reeves-Maybin made ten stops with a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss
- Georgia QB Hutson Mason completed 16-of-25 passes for 147 yards and a score with two picks, and he ran ten times for 30 yards and a score
Game Rating: B+

Sept. 20 Georgia 66, Troy 0
And You Care Because … The Bulldogs got a huge day from their vaunted rushing attack, namely RB Sony Michel, for their most lopsided win in 56 years. Georgia scored at will on overmatched Troy, jumping out to a 45-0 halftime lead, and posting their highest point total since 1994. The Trojans are now 0-4, the first time that’s happened since 1982.
What Else? Michel rushed for 155 yards and three touchdowns on only 10 carries. His performance was the highlight of a 367-yard rushing attack that was the most prolific of the Mark Richt era.
- Troy QB Brandon Silvers won’t be looking over his shoulder after sitting this one out following last week’s concussion. Backup Dontreal Pruitt struggled to lead the Trojans, completing 16-of-27 passes for 158 yards and a pick.
- The Bulldogs didn’t need much from QB Hutson Mason, who was coming off a rough effort in last week’s loss to South Carolina. The senior only attempted 11 passes before giving way to Brice Ramsey, completing eight for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
- An early deficit meant Troy had to quickly abandon its running game, while putting more pressure of Pruitt. Leading rusher Jordan Chunn was only able to carry the ball six times for 20 yards.
Game Rating: C

Sept. 13 at South Carolina 38, Georgia 35
And You Care Because … Bulldog kicker Marshall Morgan missed field goals from 26 and 28 yards out – with the latter coming with over four minutes to play with Georgia down three – and South Carolina was able to convert a 4th-and-inches – but barely – for the tight Gamecock win. Dylan Thompson threw two first quarter touchdown passes for USC, and ran for a third quarter score, but it was Brandon Wilds who took off for a 24-yard touchdown for what would turn out to be the game-winning score ant a 38-28 lead. Georgia came back, answering with a 75-yard drive and a one-yard Quayvon Hicks touchdown, and then had a big chance late after a Damian Swain interception taken deep into Gamecock territory, but an intentional grounding penalty and a few misfires forced Georgia to go for a field goal, Morgan missed, and South Carolina saved its season.
What Else? South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson completed 21-of-30 passes for 271 yards and three scores with a pick, and Georgia QB Hutson Mason completed 16-of-22 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
- Georgia RB Todd Gurley ran 20 times for 131 yards and a score.
- The Georgia defense had problems all game long, but Ramik Wilson made 13 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and Amarlo Herrera made 11 stops with a sack.
- South Carolina RB Brandon Wilds ran 14 times for 93 yards and a score. Mike Davis ran 17 times for 66 yards.
Game Rating: A

Aug. 30 at Georgia 45, Clemson 21
And You Care Because … Down 21-14 midway through the second quarter after a one-yard touchdown run from C.J. Davidson, Todd Gurley answered with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that sparked a run of 31 unanswered points. Gurley finished with three touchdown runs including an 18-yarder and 51-yard dash in the fourth quarter, and Nick Chubb added a 47-yard dash to put the game well out of reach.
What Else? That’s how you kick off a Heisman campaign. Gurley ran 15 times for 198 yards and three scores and returned a kickoff for a game-changing score. The O line did its job, but Gurley did the rest. There was a nice rotation of backs, but this was No. 3’s moment.
- The Clemson offense moved well in the first half, but stalled badly in the second – it needed a Sammy Watkins to make a big play and a Tajh Boyd to get things moving. Instead, Cole Stoudt couldn’t seem to come up with the right third down play, and Deshaun Watson, outside of a 30-yard touchdown pass to Charone Peake, couldn’t seem to find any room to move. The Georgia D had a lot to do with that.
- The Georgia linebacking corps played up to its billing. Amarlo Herrera was all over the field making a game-high 12 tackles with two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, but it was Leonard Floyd who changed the game around with two big sacks and a forced fumble. The group dominated.
- Where was Vic Beasley? The Clemson star pass rusher couldn’t seem to get free, and he came up with a sack and two tackles for loss with five tackles, but he didn’t do enough to slow down the Georgia O once it got rolling.
Game Rating: B

2014 Preview 

Enough is enough. Win the national title already.

Could this be it? Could this be Georgia’s turn at bat? Could this really be the year it all comes together again and there’s a national championship shot there for the taking?

After years of speculation about Mark Richt’s job status – started by a mega-disappointment of a 2009 season and followed up by a 6-7 clunker – the hot seat talk has cooled as he’s now as settled in as he’ll ever be considering the fickle nature of the SEC world.

All you can reasonably do is put a great team on the field every year and then hope for the best. Last year was all about the injuries that decimated a team that was more than good enough to win the East, but on the plus side – as is always the case with a season like 2013 – there are several battle-tested players across the board now creating decent depth.

Even with the disappointing – but understandable – 8-5 record and Gator Bowl loss to Nebraska, there’s as much hope as ever for something big to happen.

The Clemson loss was a fight that could've gone either way, the Vanderbilt game actually would’ve gone the other way had the team been healthy, and the Auburn game tipped the absolute wrong way in an epic finish. It’s not right or fair to go with ifs and buts in the SEC, but if Georgia had been relatively healthy, it’s fair to think that last season would’ve been a third-straight double-digit win season and the ninth in 12 years.

Now, though, for Richt, going into his 14th year at the helm, it’s time to start winning the really, really big games, and with this team coming back, it’s time for Georgia to win the SEC championship – no matter what.

It’s not the type of thing that coaches like to talk about, but star quarterback Aaron Murray’s injury turned out to be blessing in disguise, giving Hutson Mason a solid few games of experience to be ready for this year. The linebacking corps started to come together, playmakers were found to fill in the gaps, and the adjustments were made to be good enough to hang with an Auburn and come close to fighting through to ten wins. But close doesn’t count in the SEC, or in the games against the non-conference big boys.

Georgia was close in the shootout with Clemson – and lost. Georgia had Auburn dead – and lost. Georgia had chances to stop Nebraska - and didn't. Georgia almost came up with the big drive to beat Alabama and win the 2012 SEC championship – and lost. Five of the last six games Georgia has lost were by a touchdown or less, and the loss at Colorado in 2010 and the 2006 shocker to Vanderbilt were the only two clunkers in the Richt era against teams that finished their seasons with losing records.

Florida, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee all got the job done in the BCS era and won national titles. Georgia has surpassed Tennessee over the years, but it’s time expect nothing less than a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff and finally be included among the other big-name programs in the championship VIP room. It’s time to put the high expectations back on Richt and Georgia and assume that this really is a program that has think national title-or-bust.

And then hope and pray that everyone can stay healthy to make it happen.

What to watch for on offense: Don’t expect much of a drop-off from Aaron Murray to Hutson Mason. The overall numbers might not be quite as strong, and the passing game won’t average 314 yards a game again – the team won’t have to get into as many shootouts and Todd Gurley will eat up a chunk of the offensive workload on the ground – but Mason showed against Georgia Tech and Nebraska that he can sling it around and be a 300-yard passing threat when needed. With a healthier and experienced receiving corps, and with defenses focusing everyone and the waterboy on Gurley, expect a crafty senior like Mason to know exactly what he’s doing to make the Bulldog passing game among the most efficient in college football. The knock on Murray – fair or not - was that he couldn’t come up with the really, REALLY big win on a regular basis. Don’t be stunned if Mason does.

What to watch for on defense: If Georgia doesn’t have the best linebacking corps in America, it’s really, really close. Absolutely loaded, the Bulldogs bring back the 133 tackles and four sacks from Ramik Wilson in the middle, the 112 tackles and prototype size-speed on the weakside from Amarlo Herrera, Jordan Jenkins is a do-it-all veteran who’ll be starting for some NFL team next year, and then there’s the young guy, Leonard Floyd, who might be the next Jarvis Jones-like pass rusher - actually, Jenkins might be the better comparison to Jones - with blazing burst and an uncanny knack for getting into the backfield. Floyd is more like a big defensive back than a smaller defensive end, like Jones, but he’s going to be a statistical superstar on a team full of all-star linebackers. Watch how new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt turns this foursome loose – it’s going to be a must-see every week.

The team will be far better if… the return game doesn’t stink. Creating more takeaways would be nice after losing the turnover margin in eight of the 13 games – including all five losses – but the difference between being great and being national championship-fantastic could come down to special teams. PK Marshall Morgan is one of the nation’s best, and punter Collin Barber is solid, but the return game last year has to be far stronger after averaging a pathetic 18.6 yards per try. Sheldon Dawson and J.J. Green each averaged over 21 yards a pop, but there were rarely any big returns for a program that dominated in the return game over the years. The punt returns were even worse, averaging a miniscule 2.92 yards per try when ten yards an attempt was the norm just a few years ago and the 7.52-yard average of 2012 was a disappointment.

The Schedule: As always, the season starts out at 100 miles per hour, kicking things off with a revenge date against Clemson and then, after a week off, starting out SEC action at South Carolina. Fortunately, things ease up in a big way playing Troy, Tennessee and Vanderbilt at home - there can't be a miss against any of the three - before a tricky two-game road stretch at Missouri and Arkansas.

There's a week off before the Cocktail Party against the Gators, and there isn't a break the rest of the way. The second half isn't that bad with Auburn coming to Athens and the trip to Kentucky not that bad. It's all about getting through November 15th, and then, unless there's a date in the SEC championship, the conference season is over facing Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech.

Best offensive player: Junior RB Todd Gurley. Opinions are mixed on where he would’ve gone had he been eligible for the NFL Draft this year. Running backs aren’t considered must-have top ten selections anymore, but with his size, speed and receiving skills, Gurley might have been the exception except for one issue – can he take the pounding? Always dinged up like all backs are, he might be tough and he might play though pain, but now he has be alive and in the mix for a full season and produce no matter what – that’s what the scouts are looking for. The talent is undeniable. He could put up 2,000 combined yards this season if fed the ball enough, and he’ll win a few games because he’ll be the best player on the field. Now he just has to stay on it.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Ramik Wilson. However, fellow linebacker Leonard Floyd could end up being the signature player of this D by the end of the year, and there’s no real argument if you want to make a case for Amarlo Herrera or Jordan Jenkins as the possible star of the defense as the season goes on. It’s Wilson who was in on just about every tackle last season and holding up in the middle after leading the SEC in stops. He can attack in the backfield and has great range, but with so many dangerous options around him, this year he can hang back a bit and focus more on eating up the run. Even if there isn’t as much flash, the production should be terrific.

Key players to a successful season: Senior S Corey Moore. And here’s the possible Achilles heel. Georgia had one of the best safety tandems in America coming into the offseason with Josh Harvey-Clemons one of the team’s leading tackler and Tray Matthews a rising young playmaker, but they’re gone. Matthews is sitting out the year at Auburn after being booted from the Bulldogs for an incident in the classroom, and Harvey-Clemons also dismissed. Throw in the transfer of corner Shaq Wiggins, and the secondary is in need of help around veteran corner Damian Swann. Moore was a spot starter last season making 35 tackles with a pick and a sack, and now it’ll be up to him to try to secure the middle of the defensive backfield. Considering the front seven should be devastating, Moore and the secondary have work to do to hold up their end of the bargain.

The season will be a success if ... Georgia gets into the inaugural College Football Playoff. One thing might lead to another, but winning the SEC championship is meaningless now unless there’s a spot in the final four attached to it. The Bulldogs don’t have to win the conference title to get there – 11-2 with a loss in the SEC title game, or possibly even 11-1 and no trip Atlanta could get the job done – but the Playoff is the new standard and that’s what Mark Richt and company have to do. Yes, winning the national title is the goal for a team this good, but either you’re in the fun or you’re not, and for Georgia, being one of the four best teams at the end of the year would be amazing.

Key game: Sept. 13 at South Carolina. Missouri should be good again and Florida will be far, far better, but the SEC East should come down to the winner in Columbia in Georgia’s SEC opener. The Gamecocks won three in a row in the series before losing last year’s 41-30 thriller, but they were able to overcome the defeat to be in the hunt for the East title until the very end. The loser will probably have to be perfect the rest of the way to end up in Atlanta, while the winner will have the inside track and should – if South Carolina beats Texas A&M to start the season and Georgia gets by Clemson – should be ranked in the top five, if not the top three.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Field Goals: Georgia 24-of-26 – Opponents 16-of-23
- Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 14-or-22 (64%) – Georgia 13-of-22 (59%)
- Punt Return Average: Opponents 4.3 yards – Georgia 2.9

- 2014 Georgia Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players

DDDD

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