Georgia is getting its bushel of points from a variety of sources.
Tailback Todd Gurley’s legs and sturdy build. Quarterback Aaron Murray’s right arm. The hands of receivers Marlon Brown, Tavarres King and Michael Bennett.
What the Southeastern Conference’s highest-scoring team isn’t relying on much these days are field goals off the foot of kicker Marshall Morgan.
A season after leading the nation with 37 field goal attempts, Georgia has four in four games.
What in the name of Billy Bennett, Blair Walsh or Brandon Coutu is going on?
“We’ve just made some plays when we got down there,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “I think it’s a little more comfort in the guys outside and our quarterback to call some more things and let them make plays. There’s a comfort level that they’re going to be smart when it’s not there.”
Georgia ranked 21st in the nation in field-goal attempts in 2010 and in the top 40 the three seasons before that, according to the website cfbstats.com. Georgia is tied for 85th this season,
The Bulldogs had more field goal attempts in games last season against Ole Miss (five), Vanderbilt (six) and Kentucky (five) alone as it has so far this season.
“The more (Morgan) and our punter can stay on the sideline, that’s the happiest Coach Bobo and the rest of the offense will be,” Murray said. “We want to keep those guys just chilling and hanging out.”
Morgan, a freshman from Coral Springs, Fla, hasn’t attempted a field goal since Sept. 8 in a 41-20 win against Missouri.
“Selfishly, of course, I want field goals,” Morgan said. “Looking at it from a team perspective, of course, it’s a good thing, The less I’m on the field unless it’s for extra points, it’s a good thing.”
While he’s had shaky moments on extra points, Morgan is 3 of 4 on field goal tries.
Georgia leads the SEC in scoring touchdowns (15 of 18) in the red zone at an 83.3 percent clip. Ten have come on runs.
“I think we’re doing a great job,” said freshman Keith Marshall, who has three touchdowns, including a pair of two-yard runs. “The offensive line is playing great. They’re pushing the pile out there and coach is calling the right plays.”
Said coach Mark Richt: “I think we’ve just got more veteran receivers and QBs and backs that are breaking tackles. We’re just executing better right now.”
Bennett still is tied for the NCAA record for field goal attempts in a season with 38 in 2003 and has 110 career field goal attempts. Walsh approached that number with 103 in his career. Bennett holds NCAA records for field goals made in a season (31 in 2003) and in a career (2000-03) with 87. Bennet and Walsh rank first and fifth, respectively, on the SEC career list. Walsh booted 76 but had a subpar senior season.
Bobo said Richt told him last year against Florida that, when Walsh missed from 33 and 37, Georgia would go for it on fourth down. That changed how he called third downs.
Walsh is now a rookie sensation with the Minnesota Vikings and last week became the first rookie in league history to successfully kick at least one field goal of 50 or more yards in each of his team’s first three games.
“They’ve got him straightened out,” Richt said.
Georgia is still trying to get Morgan on track on extra points.
He’s made 23 of 24, but three have gone in off the upright.
“He must have played pinball as a kid,” Richt said.
Morgan said extra points were an emphasis Monday and Tuesday.
“We had two perfect days,” he said.
Bobo doesn’t expect to be perfect in the red zone, but he doesn’t want to see big mistakes, like when Murray forced a throw in the end zone and was intercepted against Florida Atlantic. Last week against Vanderbilt, Murray threw the ball nearly in the stands when receivers were covered.
“We can live with that if we’ll be smart,” Bobo said. “If we’ve got to settle for a field goal, I’m OK with that. We want to score points, but if we’ve got to settle for one, that’s OK. I’m willing to be aggressive if we’re smart back there with the ball.”