ATHENS, Ga. -- A three-touchdown third quarter helped No. 5 Georgia take over against Georgia Southern on Saturday, turning a close game into a 45-14 blowout.
The Bulldogs (10-1) surrendered 302 rushing yards in the first of back-to-back doses of run-heavy option offense, but that practice will come in handy next week when the difficulty level increases against Georgia Tech (6-5) and its flexbone.
Let’s recap some of the highs and lows of Saturday’s victory:
1. Valuable practice It wasn’t a picture-perfect display of dominant defense, but Georgia improved against Georgia Southern’s option offense throughout the game -- particularly in the third quarter, when it allowed only 31 rushing yards and turned a close contest into a blowout -- and got great practice for defending Georgia Tech’s similar offense next Saturday.
2. Fancy passing The rushing defense wasn’t the only difference-making factor in the third quarter. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo turned loose the passing attack after halftime and Georgia began to run away with the game. Quarterback Aaron Murray was 7-for-11 for 126 yards and three touchdowns in the third quarter alone, finishing 18-for-28 for 330 yards and four scores.
3. Conley continues to impress Sophomore receiver Chris Conley stepped into a larger role last week after senior Marlon Brown was lost for the season with a knee injury. He continued to produce against Georgia Southern, leading the team with four catches for 76 yards and a pair of touchdowns, a week after scoring the Bulldogs’ first touchdown in a win against Auburn.
1. Struggles early and late Allowing 122 rushing yards in the fourth quarter wasn’t a big deal in the greater scheme of things, but Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said his charges lost their edge on Georgia Southern’s final touchdown drive. And the Eagles had considerable success running the ball in the first half. That’s to be expected against a team that runs the option as well as Georgia Southern, but it certainly created some uncomfortable moments for Bulldogs fans in the first 30 minutes.
2. Sluggish running game Todd Gurley ran 15 times for 68 yards (a respectable 4.5 ypc) and a touchdown, but Georgia’s running game hardly dominated a lower-division opponent. The Bulldogs finished with 36 attempts for 120 yards (3.3 ypc), although it mattered little in the end, as they passed for 354 and five scores.
3. McGowan’s muffs Receiver/punt returner Rhett McGowan lost a fumble near midfield after a long reception in the first quarter that led to Georgia Southern’s first touchdown drive. He also fumbled a punt in the second half, although he was able to dive on the loose ball that time to prevent another change of possession.