GEORGIA – 63, Murray State. – 17
Except for the sweltering heat, which saw the thermometer soar toward the high 90s, everything came together perfectly Saturday in Athens … the Sanford Stadium playing field being officially named after legendary former Georgia coach Vince Dooley in a special pre-game ceremony and then the Bulldogs themselves busting the 60-point barrier in a 63-17 romp over the Murray State Racers.
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs, bolting away from a 7-7 first quarter deadlock against their outmanned FCS opponent, scored 35 unanswered points in the second quarter to build a 42-7 halftime advantage and then turned the game over to the Georgia backups in the final two periods to put up the 46-point margin of victory at now Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.
These weekly Stats That Matter readily reflect Georgia’s total domination of this game as the Bulldogs now hope to dispatch Arkansas State, in the same manner, this coming Saturday and then look to a rugged gauntlet that sends Kirby Smart’s team against Notre Dame and then seven consecutive SEC foes.
Plays of 20 plus yards, offense, and defense
Nine of these on a day of big plays for the Bulldogs: A 40-yard run by D’Andre Swift, who like quarterback Jake Fromm played only in the first half; a 24-yard pass from Fromm to Tennessee grad transfer Eli Wolf; a 43-yard strike from Fromm to freshman receiver George Pickens, who made a sensational diving catch of the ball in full stride; another 22-yard Fromm-to-Wolf connection; a 42-yard punt return by Tyler Simmons; a 22-yard pass from Stetson Bennett to John FitzPatrick, a 29-yard run by Zamir (Zeus) White; a 25-yard touchdown strike from Bennett to freshman Dominick Blaylock and, finally, a 26-yard burst by freshman tailback Kenny McIntosh.
The Racers had a 60-yard scoring pass from Preston Rice to DaQuon Green in the opening quarter, a 35-yard keeper by QB Rice, a 50-yard pass from Rice to Jacob Bell and a 21-yard reception by Tyre Gray.
The Bulldogs pretty much cleaned up their penalty-plagued showing from the opening win at Vanderbilt but they still had several nagging infractions that wouldn’t equate well against some of the stronger opponents that are on tap. There was a holding call on center Trey Hill, an unsportsmanlike call on Pickens after he had a 10-yard catch at the Murray State 15-yard line, a lost fumble by Eli Wolf at the end of a first-quarter reception and then, two illegal formation assessments against the Bulldogs, for lining up with too many men in the backfield.
Special teams wins vs. miscues
Jake Camarda again only punted twice for the Bulldogs, averaging 48.0 on his kicks with one of them pinning the Racers inside their own 20. Rodrigo Blankenship wasn’t called upon for any field goal attempts but he and backup kicker Brooks Buce drilled eight kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Again, the Georgia defense swarmed to the ball the day long, continually stopping Murray State backs at the line of scrimmage or tossing them for losses in their own backfield … as evidenced by the Bulldogs limiting the Racers to a measly 23 yards net rushing. But the secondary did blow coverage on DaQuon Green’s 60-yard scoring reception in the first quarter and also let quarterback Preston Rice pull away from several would-be tacklers on a 35-yard keeper.
The big turnover gained for the Bulldogs was senior safety J.R. Reed’s 14-yard scoop-and-score in the second quarter which put the Bulldogs up by 21-7 at the time. The fumble was caused by nickel back Mark Webb, who admittedly was the one burned for the Racers’ 60-yard touchdown pass. Latavious Brini also had a late interception for Georgia. The Bulldogs lost the ball twice, on a fumble by Wolf and when the Racers’ Nigel Walton picked off a Bennett pass and sped 35 yards to score.
Red Zone (offense/defense)
Can’t get any better than this: The Bulldogs were a perfect 7-for-7 scoring inside the red zone and on all seven occasions, they punched in touchdowns! On their only excursion inside the Georgia 20, the Racers had to settle for a field goal.
Third down conversions
After their faulty 1-for-7 showing in this area against Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs responded by knocking out first downs on eight of their 10 third-down attempts against the Murray State defense. In contrast, the Racers were only 6-of-16 against the Georgia defense.
Run/pass attempts (total plays)
The Bulldogs produced excellent balance in the one-sided win, running the ball 40 times for 269 yards and passing it 25 times, with Fromm and Bennett completing 20, for 292 yards. That’s a combined 65 plays for a whopping 561 yards of total offense. Notching only the 23 yards net rushing and 261 passing, the Racers ran a total of 60 plays for 284 yards.