Georgia opened their season today with an impressive 55 to 7 victory over their Sun Belt opponent the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns. Georgia debuted both a redshirt freshman Quarterback and Todd Grantham's new 3-4 defense. The big news of the day before the game was that the University of Georgia was holding star receiver A.J. Green out of the game because the NCAA has not made a ruling if he is guilty of a violation (Georgia's lawyers are on the case now). Georgia was also without last years leading rusher Washuan Ealey and starting WR Tavarres King because of off the field issues, both served a one-game suspension.
The story of the game was Aaron Murray. He looked very comfortable and for the most part made good decisions. He showed good accuracy on the majority of his throws and he showed the ability to make plays with his feet when the play broke down in the pocket. Murray played 2 quarters and some change and finished with 160 yards on 17 of 26 with 3 TD and 1 INT (also had 42 yards rushing and 1 TD). Murray's back-up true freshman Hutson Mason made a very impressive debut in the 3rd quarter when he entered the game and on his very first play from scrimmage hit former QB Logan Gray on a 26 yard TD strike.
Staying with offense, the much touted offensive line didn't quite live up to the standards my mind had made up for it but I'm sure it will get better as the season goes on and they have a better opportunity to gel. Caleb King got the start at RB and didn't play much but did gain 47 yards on 10 carries and had an impressive 20 yard TD jaunt. Third string RB Carlton Thomas was the leading rusher with 61 yards on 13 carries and probably earned some playing time with his effort. The star of the backs today was solid senior FB Shaun Chapas who went about his business as usual being the unheralded blocker but he also got the opportunity today to grab a TD pass. For the receivers, Kris Durham really had a good game (with the exception of a drop that turned into an INT) as he pulled in 5 passes for 83 yards and a TD. I was a little disappointed that the TEs were not involved more but Orson Charles did have a couple of catches.
The defense looked really good with the exception of one play where Bacarri Rambo bit on a fake and got beat for a 60 yard TD. The defense gave up only 126 yards for the entire game (and 60 on that one play). One of the major points for the Georgia defense was to cause turnovers and the defense had 3 interceptions. Brandon Boykin got one early, Jakar "Hitman" Hamilton grabbed a pick six in the second half and Sanders Commings made a beautiful one handed grab towards the end of the game. The LBs played a very good game. I was most impressed with Christian Robinson as he seemed to be in on a lot of tackles, was seen stuffing the run on multiple occassions and when he hit guys they went down. Justin Houston, Akeem Dent and Akeem Hebron all recorded sacks on the day. Another player I came away impressed with was true freshman T.J. Stripling. Stripling got some playing time late and was in on some tackles and did a good job of getting after the QB on multiple occasions.
The unit that I came away most impressed with was the Special Teams unit. It started off kind of shaky when Georgia gave up a 46 yard KO return to start the game but everything from then on went well. Kicker Blair Walsh looked great as he connected on FGs of 52 and 48. Punter Drew Butler averaged 46.7 yards per kick on 6 punts. New PR Branden Smith looked very good in his new role as he averaged 17 yards per return, made some smart fair catches and held onto the football. KO return stud Brandon Boykin also had a good return of 31 yards. The strength of Georgia's Special Teams should factor into a game or two later on in the season.
- Last year Georgia ranked 118th out of 120 teams in turnover margin. Today they had 3 takeaways and only 1 giveaway.
- Hutson Mason became the 8th player in Divison I-A (FBS) history to throw a TD on his first college pass.
- Georgia held the Cajuns to just 5 first downs.
- Georgia committed 5 penalties for 30 yards. Last year Georgia ranked 106th with an average of 8 per game for 67 yards.
- Despite missing both starting WRs the Bulldogs spread the football around as 10 players made catches.
- 55 pts is most scored in a Georgia opener since 1998 when they beat Kent 56 to 3.
- OL Trinton Sturdivant did not play due to a stomach bug.
- Branden Smith became the first player since Champ Bailey to start a game on offense, defense and special teams.
- Russ is now 3-0 as the temporary mascot.
- Richt says Washaun Ealey and Tavarres King will play against South Carolina. Can't comment on status of A.J. Green.
Next Up for Georgia: at South Carolina