A.J. Green played in his first home game following his four game suspension and helped Georgia handily defeat Tennessee 41-14. Green had 6 catches for 96 yards and 1 TD while mostly being double covered. Not everything was rosy for Green on Saturday. Green caught a 33 yard pass from QB Aaron Murray near the Tennessee 8 yard line late in the first quarter and was sandwiched by two Tennessee defenders. Green laid on the ground after the play for a few moments. As trainers attended Green, the crowd began chanting ‘AJ!!, AJ!!, AJ!!. Green jumped to his feet and the crowd responded with a resounding cheer. Georgia went onto score when Murray hit Rantavious Wooten and the party began.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley could not had a worst start in the stadium where he grew up watching his dad. Georgia scored a touchdown on their first possession. Tennessee’s QB Matt Simms threw a costly interception in the first quarter, and KR Eric Gordon fumbled a kickoff which led to another Georgia touchdown. The Dawgs led 17-0 after the first quarter and stunned the Volunteers who played LSU so closely the week before. The victory was a needed one for Georgia’s head coach Mark Richt as he had to defend the coaches and players throughout the past week after starting the season 1-4.
Each game this season, Murray has become more and more comfortable as the starter. By far, this was his best game of the season – of course, it helps having A.J. Green in the lineup. Murray ran for two scores and threw for two more. The numbers for Murray — 17 for 25, 266 yards, and no interceptions. He looked more and more as a season veteran than a redshirt freshman. Georgia should not have to worry about the quarterback position for the next couple of years.
Georgia is still struggling running the ball as the Dawgs have embraced a running back by committee due to injuries and fumblitis. Take away Murray’s runs and Georgia’s running backs did not go over 100 yards. Georgia still needs to establish a running game on a consistent basis week in and week out if they want to turn this season around.
The defense had it’s best outing of the season and for once defense coordinator Todd Grantham and the players were on the same page. Georgia only gave up 9 rushing yards on 26 attempts. They forced Simms to throw early as the Dawgs were too much for the young, inexperienced Volunteer offense line.
So what’s next for Georgia? They are at home against Vanderbilt next week. They must keep the same intensity on defense as they did on Saturday throughout the remainder of the season. They must establish the run early to keep opposing defenses honest when defending A.J. Green. A.J. needs to stay healthy to take pressure off the other WRs and Murray. Georgia is out of the SEC East race, but they still have an outside shot at a New Year’s Day Bowl. Their remaining schedule are winnable games except Auburn only because Auburn is on the road. Florida is not the Florida of years past and Georgia Tech is at home. But for now, the coaches, players, and fans will enjoy the win against Tennessee in the most disappointing season under the Richt era.
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Written by Bob Ballard