Football notebook: Defense pitches first shutout of the season against Tigers

Georgia’s defense had one thing on its mind in the fourth quarter against Auburn Saturday: finish the drill.

AJ Reynolds/Staff
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones had two sacks against Auburn on Saturday night. Jones now has 10.5 sacks on the season.

“We wanted to finish strong,” safety Bacarri Rambo said. “That’s one thing we failed to do last year — finish strong.”

With a 38-0 lead late in the game, Georgia coaches kept the first-team defense on the field, and the Bulldogs came away with their first shutout of the season and the first shutout of Auburn since 1976.

“Coach wanted us to stay out there and go for the shutout,” said middle linebacker Alec Ogletree, who led Georgia with 11 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. “Guys have been wanting a shutout all year.”

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the shutout wasn’t his main focus.

“I think it was more important to hold them to a low number,” Grantham said. “I thought the guys played hard and understood the gameplan.”

The Bulldogs, who haven’t allowed a point in the last six quarters of play, had an answer for Auburn’s offense at every turn.

Safety Shawn Williams forced a fumble on Auburn’s deepest drive, which reached the Georgia 11-yard line.

“We wanted the shutout badly,” said Rambo, who picked off an Auburn pass in the third quarter for his 15th career interception, one shy of Jake Scott’s school record. “We wanted to send a statement.”

Jarvis Jones notched two sacks in the first half, giving him 24 sacks for his career. Jones now has 10.5 sacks this season, moving him closer to David Pollack’s single-season school record of 14.

“Any time you get a chance to shutout an SEC school, it’s big time,” Jones said. “We’re loving every minute of it. The guys played well.”

The Bulldogs held the Tigers to just 57 yards rushing, and the Tigers were 3-of-11 on third down conversions.

“If you’re good on third down, that’s one way to hold people to low numbers,” Grantham said. “You get turnovers, you’re good on third down and your offense is able to move the ball.”



WR King honors Brown with jersey and performance

Tavarres King sported a different jersey number Saturday against Auburn, but he put together another solid outing in the first half against the Tigers.

King honored fellow wide receiver Marlon Brown by wearing Brown’s No. 15 against the Tigers. Brown suffered a torn ACL in Georgia’s 37-10 victory over Ole Miss last week, ending the senior’s career at Georgia.

“He’s a very close friend of Marlon,” Richt said of King’s decision to switch numbers. “I told him before he even came to me ‘yes, you can wear 15.’”

Along with wearing Brown’s number, King honored Brown with his play, racking up three catches for 73 yards in the first half alone.

“Anyway I can honor Marlon to show him I really care about him and that this team cares about him I want to do it,” said King, who made the decision on Monday to wear Brown’s number instead of his own.

King jumped up and snagged a 17-yard touchdown pass, barely getting the necessary one foot in bounds to give Georgia a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. The catch was the 19th receiving touchdown in King’s career, moving him into a tie for fourth in Georgia history with Brice Hunter.

Later in the second quarter, King snuck behind Auburn’s secondary and hauled in a 55-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Murray to set up a Todd Gurley rushing score one play later.

“Hopefully, I honored him well,” said the 6-foot-1 King, who joked that the jersey made him feel small because it was actually the 6-foot-5 Brown’s jersey just with King’s name stitched across the back. “I had to play well if I was going to wear it.”

With Georgia now missing two of its receivers, King said he’s not pressing to make plays happen.

“I don’t put any added pressure on myself,” King said. “I’ve got a bunch of guys around me that can make plays at any time. I’m just one of those guys.”



Beard, Conley get first starts in victory

Sophomores Mark Beard and Chris Conley received their first starts Saturday in Georgia’s 38-0 win over Auburn.

With right guard Chris Burnette sidelined with a shoulder injury, Beard started at left tackle. Kenarious Gates slid from left tackle to left guard, and Dallas Lee moved from left to right guard, snapping Burnette’s streak of 18 consecutive starts.

“It felt good,” Beard said. “I think I played pretty well. I’ve still got things to work on.”

For Beard, an Alabama native, the win was extra special.

“When I come back across the state line, I can talk a little bit of smack,” Beard said.

Conley got the nod at wideout in place of Marlon Brown, whose Georgia career was cut short by a torn ACL suffered in last week’s win over Ole Miss. Conley caught a six-yard touchdown pass the cap Georgia’s first drive of the game, and the former North Paulding standout finished with four catches for 32 yards and the one touchdown.

“I feel like a coaches have done a good job preparing me to start,” Conley said. “My job was to be ready when the time came. When guys go down, the next guy needs to step up. My number was called, and I feel like I was ready.”

Tight ends have career day

Georgia tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome caught more passes in the first half against Auburn than they had in any game all season.

Entering Saturday’s matchup, the pair of tight ends had only caught four passes or fewer in each game this season. In Georgia’s first game without Brown, Murray turned to new targets — his tight ends.

Lynch matched his career-high with three catches for 29 yards in the first half, while Rome set a brought in two catches for 17 yards.

“It’s one of those things where Aaron reads the progressions and whatever is the good look, you take it,” Lynch said. “Aaron was spot-on with all of his reads tonight, and we were able to make some plays when our numbers were called.”

Lynch was kicking himself for a third quarter drop, but the redshirt junior didn’t let the drop damper the win, which clinched the SEC East.

“I wish I had caught that last one,” Lynch said. “I think I could’ve gone a pretty good ways, but we won the game. … For us, we couldn’t be happier.”

Quick Hits

Since the SEC began in 1933, Georgia and Auburn have played each other 21 times for either a division crown or conference championship. Georgia is now 12-8-1 in those games.

Georgia evened the series with Auburn at 54-54-8 and has now won six of the last seven meetings between the two schools.

The shutout against Auburn is the seventh shutout in the Mark Richt era and third against an SEC school in Richt’s tenure. The last SEC team Georgia shutout was Vanderbilt in 2010 (43-0).

The 38-point margin of victory ties last year’s 45-7 Georgia victory for second largest margin of victory in the history of the series. The largest was a 41-0 win in 1946 in Columbus..

 

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