Scouting Georgia: previewing UB's season opener against the No. 6 team in the nation
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
The Bulldogs enter the season as a legitimate contender for the highly touted SEC Championship. They had fallen off the map for a couple years in 2009 and 2010, and a 0-2 start last season put them on track for another disappointing season.
But Georgia turned it around with 10 consecutive wins, before getting blown out by LSU in the SEC Championship and an overtime loss to Michigan St. in the Outback Bowl, finishing the season 10-4.
After redshirting his freshman year, junior quarterback Aaron Murray has accumulated 6,198 yards, 59 touchdowns and has averaged a quarterback rating above 150 in his first two seasons as Georgia’s starting quarterback. Murray enters his third season as a potential Heisman Trophy finalist.
Junior linebacker Jarvis Jones will attempt to achieve the impossible: have a better season than 2011. Last year he was a consensus First Team All-American and led the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss. Jones entered his sophomore year primarily tasked with chasing down the quarterback, a first in his football career.
Now with one year under his belt as a pass-rusher, it appears Jones can only get better.
SEC interception leader Baccari Rambo and teammate Sanders Commings decided to return for their senior season. The decision should help reinforce the Bulldogs’ pass defense, a category that ranked No. 9 in the nation in 2011.
Key Matchup: Georgia’s running game vs. Buffalo’s linebackers
Both teams open the season with controversy surrounding a few key players. Sophomore Ken Malcome will replace last season’s leading rusher, Isaiah Crowell, after Crowell was dismissed from the team for being arrested on felony weapons charges.
The Bulls will have to take on the Bulldogs’ ground game without junior linebacker Khalil Mack, who was suspended for the team’s opener after violating a team rule. Mack was named to the Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player) and Lombardi Award (best linebacker) watch lists.
He said it…
“He’s [head coach Jeff Quinn] doing an outstanding job there, no doubt about it. I was looking at their offense and one of the things that I saw from their first to their second year was that they were really adding their yards per game and doing much better in points per game. Their turnover ratio has improved dramatically from year one to year two and now they’re going into year three with a lot of veteran players. It’s a little bit similar with what’s going on with our defense in that everybody knows what they’re doing. I’m sure they’re in the same situation in that regard. They are a big bunch, and they have three guys that started all 12 games last year on the offensive line, so we’re looking forward to that challenge. With our line against theirs, it will be interesting to see how that goes. I figure they’ll be wanting to run the ball a lot, and it will be a challenge for us to stop it.”
– Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt on Buffalo
Number to watch: 6
The sixth-ranked Bulldogs are one of the highest-ranked opponents the Bulls have faced in school history.
This is going to be a tough game for the Bulls. Georgia is one of the elite teams in the country, with a solid passing attack led by Murray and senior wideout Tavarres King. As good as their offense is, the defense is even better, with Jones leading the charge at linebacker, and a stud nose tackle in senior John Jenkins. The Bulldogs’ 3-4 defense is sure to have some success stopping a solid Bulls rushing attack, and the Bulls don’t have enough weapons on the outside to keep the Georgia defense honest. On the other side of the ball, the lack of depth at linebacker after the suspension of Mack will hurt some. The Bulls will put up a fight, but playing in a hostile environment, a 90,000-seat Sanford Stadium, will be too much to overcome.