Georgia QB Aaron Murray played at the same level as South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia in Saturday’s game even though this was his first road start. The problem was Murray did not have USC RB Marcus Lattimore in his backfield. Lattimore ran for 182 yards on 37 carries with 2 TDs and helped South Carolina beat Georgia 17-6. With Lattimore running successfully against Georgia’s defense, USC controlled the game clock 35:15 to 24:45 and kept the home crowd cheering loudly throughout the game.
Without WR A.J. Green, Georgia had to be able to run the ball in order to get a victory over the Gamecocks. Dogs’ RB Washaun Ealey, who was making his first start of the season after being suspended in first game due to a team violation, rushed for 75 yards on 19 carries, but had a costly fumble late in the third quarter on South Carolina’s 3 yard line. The Bulldogs had a difficult time running the ball against a talented defense team. This was one of the keys for Georgia to win on the road with a redshirt freshman QB in a hostile environment — run the ball so Murray would not have to throw on 3rd and long.
Georgia’s defense could not make any adjustments to stop the powerful Lattimore. This was a little disheartening since Georgia brought over a new highly touted defensive coordinator who mainly coached in the NFL. Georgia implemented a new 3-4 defensive scheme during the off-season and faced it’s toughest challenge to date, but saw little adjustments to stop Lattimore. The results will depress the Dogs’ defense in film sessions all of next week: In the first half alone, Lattimore had 10 rushes of five yards or more, and five of those gained at least 10 yards. He had 103 yards on 21 carries at the half.
There was some good news, Georgia linebacker Justin Houston did have 3 sacks. Lattimore is not a one trick pony. He was ‘Mr South Carolina’ high school football player of the year last year and was highly recruited nationally. In other words, this won’t be the last time we hear of Marcus Lattimore.
Georgia’s offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was very conservative with the play calling as he was trying to protect Murray and to keep his confidence level high. Murray did not an interception, but had a difficult time finding an open receiver as South Carolina was able to drop back seven to eight defenders into coverage confusing Murray. Murray mostly had to check down or throw the ball away especially in the key fourth quarter with the game on the line. Of course, if Georgia was able to run the ball, that would have opened up the passing game and allowed Murray to find his inexperienced receivers.
Georgia has a tough test next week against Arkansas in Athens. Another SEC loss this early in the season would cost Georgia the opportunity to play in December’s SEC Championship game and fans finally turning on UGA head coach Mark Richt.
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Written by Bob Ballard