ATHENS - Georgia held its “practice game” for the season opener, and few will be surprised if it ends up looking a lot like the real opener at Clemson.
Aaron Murray hit Arthur Lynch on a game-winning touchdown with a couple minutes left, propelling “Georgia,” to a 42-41 win over “Clemson.” Or at least that's according to head coach Mark Richt, who provided all the stats and information for an event closed to the media and public.
"Georgia" had Murray and the other first- and second-teamers set to play in the opener. "Clemson", which included mostly scout-teamers and freshmen expected to redshirt, was spotted a 28-0 lead, and the practice game began at halftime.
"Georgia won 42-41 in a barnburner," Richt said.
Never miss a local story.
The Georgia offense had to punt twice, but got touchdowns on six possessions. Murray, Hutson Mason and Brice Ramsey didn't throw any interceptions. Richt seemed generally pleased, judging by his body language, and compared to some of the previous scrimmages.
"We're much better pass protectors and route-runners than we were a year ago," Richt said.
The Georgia offensive comeback also came without star tailback Todd Gurley, who was held out despite not being injured.
"We've seen enough of him," Richt said. "We need to see some other guys."
Defensively, the injury-riddled secondary played without free safety Tray Matthews, strong safety Corey Moore, strong safety Shaquille Fluker and cornerback Sheldon Dawson. But top cornerback Damian Swann played, and freshmen cornerbacks Brendan Langley and Shaq Wiggins each had an interception. Wiggins brought his back 17 yards for a touchdown.
"They do have good ball skills, very good hands," Richt said.
The Georgia defense was scored on once on a "legitimate drive," according to Richt. He gave the Clemson offense a bunch of first downs in order to give the starting defense a chance to work in certain situations, such as field-goal range. The defense held in those situations, but gave up one longer drive.
Richt declined to say who kicked the game-winning extra point, continuing the subterfuge around the status of possibly-suspended place kicker Marshall Morgan.
"I can't tell you," Richt said. "Secret stuff."
Freshman tailback Brendan Douglas missed the scrimmage because of a bruised knee. Richt said he didn't know how long Douglas would be out, only that it wasn't a season-ending type of injury, and wouldn't require surgery. Fellow freshman A.J. Turman remains out, so right now J.J. Green (another freshman) is the No. 3 tailback, behind Gurley and Keith Marshall.
"I think J.J. really took advantage of an opportunity to get a lot of reps," Richt said. "He ran over somebody once, got everybody excited."
Ramsey played for Georgia, seemingly putting him ahead of fellow quarterbacks Christian LeMay, Parker Welch and Faton Bauta. But Richt said the No. 3 quarterback spot is still unsettled.
Richt announced the captains for the Clemson game, all seniors: Murray and tight end Arthur Lynch on offense, defensive end Garrison Smith on defense and safety Connor Norman on special teams.
"All this was based really on January to today," Richt said.
(Only players who were on "Georgia" are listed. Richt said Clemson stats were not kept.)
Aaron Murray: 11-14, 194 yards, 3 TD
Hutson Mason: 2-5, 33
Brice Ramsey: 1-2
J.J. Green: 12 carries for 62 yards
Brandon Harton: 2 for 11
Malcolm Mitchell: 1 for 11
Quayvon Hicks: 2 for 7, 2 TDs
Reggie Davis: 2 catches for 29 yards
J.J. Green: 2 for 23
Arthur Lynch: 2 for 16 , 1 TD
Keith Marshall: 2 for 46, 1 TD
Malcolm Mitchell: 1 for 25, 1 TD
Justin Scott-Wesley: 1 for 18
Michael Bennett: 1 for 28
Jay Rome: 1 for 27
Chris Conley: 1 for 15
Merritt Hall: 1 for 9
Jordan Jenkins: 4 tackles, 1 sack
Ramik Wilson: 4 tackles, 1 TFL
Reggie Carter: 3 tackles
Amarlo Herrera: 3 tackles, 1 TFL
Blake Sailors: 2 tackles
Quincy Mauger: 2 tackles
Corey Campbell: 2 tackles
Josh Dawson: 1 forced fumble
Brendan Langley: 1 INT, 0 yards
Shaq Wiggins: 1 INT, 17 yards, TD
One tackle for T.J. Stripling, Connor Norman, Mike Thornton, Sterling Bailey, Damian Swann, Garrison Smith, Leonard Floyd, John Taylor.
Notable players who were out on Wednesday and their listed reason:
CB Sheldon Dawson (shoulder sprain)
TB Brendan Douglas (left knee MCL sprain)
SS Shaquille Fluker (illness)
FS Tray Matthews (hamstring)
WR Rhett McGowan (ankle sprain)
SS Corey Moore (knee sprain)
WR Jonathan Rumph (hamstring strain)
TB A.J. Turman (knee sprain, ankle sprain)
OLB Chase Vasser (ankle sprain)
WR Rantavious Wooten (hamstring strain)
(Freshmen Reggie Wilkerson and Paris Bostick will miss the season with injuries.)