ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Richt said he saw some good things, but he didn’t see what he wanted when Georgia staged its second preseason scrimmage Wednesday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.
“I thought we looked like a pretty good team,” Richt said. “But pretty good is about 8-4. I think that’s pretty good. Maybe 9-3 if you’re lucky. But we’d like to do better than 8-4. That’s about how we played today. It wasn’t just awful, but was it great? No, it wasn’t great.”
The Bulldogs got standout performances from freshman tailback Todd Gurley (eight carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns, including a 66-yard scoring run) and receiver Chris Conley (four catches for 114 yards and a 70-yard touchdown), but Richt also pointed out a number of sloppy plays.
Quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason both threw touchdown passes, but also had an interception and a fumble apiece. Backup Christian LeMay had an interception and a fumble and walk-on Parker Welch also lost a fumble.
“Every time the quarterback got touched, they fumbled the ball,” Richt said. “They’re not supposed to get tackled, but sometimes they’ll get touched. Every time they got hit a little bit or touched a little bit, they fumbled the ball. I wasn’t too happy about that.”
He also said the starting offense hit a dry spell in the middle of the scrimmage after scoring on its first three drives, and then picking it up again at the end with two late scores. Murray said he wants to see more consistency from the starters, but was much sunnier about the scrimmage than was his head coach.
“We scored like four or five times today. We scored on the first three possessions. That’s 21 points right off the bat,” Murray said. “We had two series where we didn’t move the ball as well, but you’re going to have those times in the game.
“And then we finished off strong with two more touchdowns at the end of the game, too -- one with three-minute drill when we had to eat up the clock and we scored and then in overtime, we scored again. So we scored on five of our possessions out of eight or nine, so that’s more than 50 percent.”
Conley caught a long touchdown from Murray and freshman Blake Tibbs caught a touchdown pass from Mason, but the running game was the offensive story for the Bulldogs.
Gurley again seemed to be the top performer after leading the team with six carries for 58 yards and a touchdown in last week’s first team scrimmage. Between the two outings, Gurley has 13 carries for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’m seeing a lot of great things out of Todd. He’s definitely maturing very fast,” Conley said of Gurley, who also had two catches for 22 yards. “He’s definitely picking up the plays very fast, finding the running lanes. He’s got great vision and he’s actually got a lot of speed for a guy who’s that big. He has a knack for staying on his feet when he’s getting hit and he’ll just keep moving and protecting the ball.”
Freshman Keith Marshall had five carries for 62 yards, including a long of 52 yards, while Richard Samuel had six carries for 40 yards and a touchdown and Ken Malcome had five carries for 35 yards and a score.
Brandon Harton played exclusively with the second-team offense and still rushed 7 times for 31 yards, although he also lost a fumble.
“I don’t think Harton had one carry with the No. 1 unit. That’s the one that’s kind of scary, but he made some really nice runs,” Richt said, implying that Harton’s yardage came against the starting defense.
On the defensive side, outside linebacker Chase Vasser led the way with six tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks. Shawn Williams, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Corey Moore all had interceptions. Alec Ogletree had two sacks, while Harvey-Clemons and Jarvis Jones had one apiece.
Richt said Moore’s interception was one of the defensive highlights, with the sophomore safety halting the first-team offense’s drive inside the red zone.
“I read Michael Bennett’s double move and I just waited for the route to come back to me and I picked off the ball,” Moore said.
Richt said freshman place-kicker Marshall Morgan hit all of his PAT attempts and was 1-for-1 on field goals, hitting from 42 yards. Morgan went 6-for-8 in pre-scrimmage field goals, Richt said, including a long of 53 yards.
Freshman punter Collin Barber kicked twice and averaged 49.5 yards per attempt, Richt said.
The Bulldogs came out of the scrimmage without any major injuries, but it was still not what their head coach wanted. With little more than two weeks remaining before Georgia opens the season against Buffalo, Richt was fairly negative in his media comments for the first time this preseason.
“I didn’t see a team that was ready to be great, I saw a team that was still pretty good,” Richt said. “So I just wasn’t that thrilled about it. I might feel better watching film.”