KNOXVILLE, Tenn..–If it wasn’t for Aaron Murray and some of the Georgia offensive line, the Bulldogs offense would have resembled something close to the second-team players at a G-Day spring game on Saturday.
The Bulldogs held off Tennessee and left with a 34-31 overtime win on national television in a game when its leading rusher was freshman J.J. Green and its top receiver was Rantavious Wooten.
“To have Rhett McGowan, Brendan Douglas, J.J. Green, Kenny Towns was playing, Wooten was playing,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, “a bunch of guys stepped up and they’re going to have to continue to step up for us.”
We’ll have to wait and see on the severity of the right knee injuries to tailback Keith Marshall and receivers Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett, but the postgame vibe wasn’t good.
“A lot of guys got hurt, a lot of guys couldn’t finish the game, I can at least say that,” said coach Mark Richt, who wouldn’t divulge the severity of the injuries. “Players had to step up. Young players had to step up.”
Marshall and Scott-Wesley were carted off.
“I got my faith in the Lord!” Scott-Wesley tweeted after the game. “I can’t lose!!”
Said Murray: “It’s tough. It really stinks. …Right now we’re hurting a little bit, but with great leadership on this team, we’re going to push through.”
“We’ve got to assess the injuries,” Bobo said. “I don’t know the extent of all of them, but we’re not going to make excuses about who’s playing or what, we’ve got to go out and execute and we’ve got to score enough points to win whatever it may be.”
The one bit of good news is that tailback Todd Gurley could be back as early as Saturday against Missouri.
“We’re not counting out this game here,” coach Mark Richt said. “I’d be really surprised if he couldn’t make it for Vanderbilt (the week after) and I think it’s probably 50-50 on this `one.”
A week after beating No. 6 LSU with a touchdown pass with 1:47 to go, the Bulldogs again were pushed to the brink against a team it was favored to beat by 10 ½ points.
“It might give me a heart attack, it might give fans a heart attack,” tight end Arthur Lynch said. “…We just come out on top. I’m still in shock with this one. It’s something I’ve never been a part of.”
The injuries, the final drive of regulation or the win in overtime?
“All of it,” Lynch said. “For whatever reason, we got of hit a little ditch in the third quarter and kind of came back strong in the fourth quarter.”
Despite all the injuries.
“Mike is the playcaller. He’s trying to figure out, who’s in, who can do what, what do they know,” Richt said. “It handcuffed us just a tad bit. We just kept playing, kept fighting, found a way to win.”
This is not the same Tennessee that won nine straight against Georgia from 1992-99 before Richt arrived. Or the one that knocked off top-10 Georgia teams in 2004 and 2006.
Georgia won its fourth straight against Tennessee and its fifth in the last six games and Richt improved to 9-4 against Tennessee, but the Volunteers finished with 404 total yards after accounting for 127 in the first half.
“I thought the first half we played really well,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “When you play well in the first half and you’re doing those things than people are going to adjust. When they adjust, you have to handle the adjustments they make. I don’t think we did as well on that as far as the edge runs. We were still stout inside. …On third down, we have to make sure we have our eyes where they need to be and get on our guys.”
Next up is unbeaten Missouri, which rolled to a 51-28 win at Vanderbilt.
The Volunteers dropped their 19th straight against ranked opponents, going back to a Halloween win against South Carolina in 2009.
At least Marshall Morgan didn’t get injured after his 42-yard game-winning field goal: “I saw the whole line and everyone coming to jump on me so I just kind of went down and let them do their thing. It was a lot of weight.”
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