Georgia survives triple-option hurdle, awaits another one

semerson@macon.comNovember 17, 2012 

ATHENS -- John Jenkins sat in a corner of the Georgia locker room, feeling tired and weary. A few days before Georgia’s massive nose tackle had expressed disdain for having to play in a game like this. By the end, he hadn’t changed his mind.

“Man, I’m dreading it for another week,” he said.

Georgia school president Michael Adams reached out to shake Jenkins’ hand.

“You OK?” Adams asked.

“I’m good, I’m good,” Jenkins said.

That summed up the Georgia football team after its 45-14 win over Georgia Southern: a bit battered, not looking forward to a similar game this week -- but still good.

The Bulldogs survived the first half of their two-game run against triple-option teams. Obviously this week’s matchup with Georgia Tech figures to be much tougher, given the step up in competition. But a win would mean that the SEC championship game Dec. 1 would mean a shot at the BCS championship.

“It’s here we go again,” Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings said of the prospect of playing another triple-option team. “But I mean, it’s worth it -- once the end result is you get a victory and you hold them to 14 points. (This) week is for the state championship, so I’m sure people are gonna be ready to practice and work on that cut block again all week.”

It was the defense that just survived the game for Georgia, now 10-1 overall. But it was the offense that continued to rack up records.

Tailback Todd Gurley became the first Georgia true freshman to surpass 1,000 yards since Herschel Walker in 1980. Quarterback Aaron Murray had four touchdown passes to three different receivers.

And the Bulldogs broke a program record with their 55th touchdown of the season. The record had been held by the 1942 team, which did it in 12 games and won the national championship.

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has had his critics. But as he sat in the locker room, his daughter on his lap, Bobo was asked if this made him a genius.

“Am I a genius?” he said with a smile. “Am I genius? Do you know what a genius is?

“No, I think it’s a credit to our players and how they go about their business every week.”

It took awhile, but Georgia ended up making it look easy against Georgia Southern, an FCS team now 8-3 on the season.

Georgia scored on the game’s opening possession, but it was tied in the second quarter, and the Eagles trailed 10-7 and were driving in the final minute of the first half. They went for it on fourth down and got it, but the play was negated by a penalty for a chop block.

Jenkins claimed credit for that.

“At the beginning of the game, the first half, I had brought it to the ref’s attention that they were running the high-lows,” Jenkins said, alluding to the practice of two blockers going after a defender, one above and one below the waist. “I guess he was looking out for that type of block, and actually Kwame (Geathers) was the one to get it at the time, and we got the call. I mean, we were getting it all game. I’m just glad the ref actually saw it and put a stop to it before it got out of hand.”

Georgia Southern had to try a 39-yard field goal, which missed wide right. Taking over with 1:03 left in the half, Murray led the team downfield quickly, hitting Malcolm Mitchell for a 24-yard touchdown with three seconds left.

Then the Bulldogs exploded in the third quarter, putting up 21 points to put the game away.

“I think it was great to get down the field the way we did (at the end of the first half). In the second half we were able to sling it around a little bit more,” Murray said. “So just to grab the momentum at the end of the half was huge.”

Georgia added a late touchdown to make the final score 45-14, leading head coach Mark Richt to be asked afterwards if it was for style points -- in other words, to impress BCS voters.

Richt denied it, pointing out the backups were in -- walk-on quarterback Parker Welch tossed the touchdown to redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley -- and that Georgia Southern was still blitzing.

“I think if a defensive team at that point of the game keeps blitzing, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just max protecting and trying to throw one-on-one,” Richt said. “It’s just what you do normally, and we do it with our second-teamers. I will say this, if they were just playing base defense, we probably would’ve just kept running the football.”

In any case, Georgia survived and advanced and is still in the BCS hunt and ready for a second straight week of defending a difficult offense.

“We were healthy, we got through it, but now we gotta keep going,” Georgia senior linebacker Christian Robinson said. “We gotta keep the same momentum that we had at the end of the game. That’s the big thing, is we’ve gotta keep doing that every play, and we did that the second half.”

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