A week after coming up short against a top-10 team, Georgia ran out the clock on another.
The Bulldogs’ 41-30 victory over No. 6 South Carolina showed the Bulldogs have bounce-back ability once again after its 3-point loss at Clemson.
Georgia even held up after a 17-3 lead disappeared Saturday.
“No one flinched, everybody worked hard, everybody believed,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “These guys showed me something. We’re beginning to define what type of team we are, what type of defense, what type of offense. It was a good sign today to play that kind of game and come out on top like that.”
–Yes, fifth-year senior quarterback Aaron Murray had a game to remember.
Quite a stat line: 17 of 23 for 309 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
“And created some plays,” Richt said. “Theres’s some times he had to break out of the pocket and find some people open. The touchdown pass to (Todd) Gurley, I’m pretty sure we had a busted assignment on that. I don’t think the route was right, but whatever he ran we’re going to put it in next week. …We dropped two slants on the backside that could have made it even a better day statistically.”
Asked if it was best game of his career, Murray responded: “It was a huge win. Very happy. Very, very happy right now with the way we played as a team.”
Said Richt: “I don’t want to overdo it to say Aaron won a big game because quite frankly when we haven’t won–we haven’t won some of these games—it’s always been the team. It’s a team game. The team hasn’t won big games. It hasn’t been Murray, it’s been everybody. When we won it, the team won this game. It wasn’t that Murray won the game, but Murray played well, which was great and I’m proud of him.”
–Georgia turned to its uptempo offense on a day it ran 76 plays. That number would have been higher if Georgia didn’t kill clock in the second half of the fourth quarter.
That pace probably contributed to Jadeveon Clowney being held to one sack, two tackles for loss and three total tackles.
“What can I say?” Richt said. “I still think he’s one of the best players on the planet.”
He smiled when he said that.
Word is Clowney was affected by a foot injury of some sort.
–Georgia held South Carolina to six second-half points after giving up 24 in the first half.
The goal-line stand and long clock-killing drive by the offense helped the defense, which allowed 454 yards of total offense.
“I think the more they play, the better they’re going to get,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “We weren’t perfect, but I did see improvements. They kept battling, Truthfully, we were mentally more tough than they were tonight. We kept playing and could have kept playing.”
On the fourth-down stop on Mike Davis, Grantham said: “If it’s fourth and a half a yard like that and they choose to put the ball on the perimeter, I’ll take that,” he said. “I’ll take that all day.”
–Justin Scott-Wesley outran a South Carolina defensive back on his 85-yard catch and run touchdown
“You got a chance to see his big-time speed,” Richt said of a 100-and 200-meter state champion.
“Am I the fastest player on the team?” Scott-Wesley said, repeating a question posed to him. “I don’t know man. Go watch the film and we’ll see.”
–The fans got their props from Murray and Richt.
“They by far brought their A game tonight, the fans,” Murray said. “Everybody put this down and write something about this. Those fans tonight were unbelievable. It’s a beautiful thing to look out there and look up and every seat filled with red and black.”
Richt said the students led the way in being vocal and rowdy.
“They got loud when they needed to,” Richt said. “After that touchdown by Justin Scott-Wesley, I thought they kind of blew the roof of it.”
Georgia even added some smoke this year for its pregame entrance.
“I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but we’ll do that again,” Richt said.
–Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo wasn’t around for the postgame interviews even though he was requested.
Perhaps he was already celebrating a victory that included 41 points and 536 total yards and an offensive line that had a good day.
After Kenarious Gates went out injured, Mark Beard filled in for him at left tackle.
“I think I did a pretty good job coming off the bench,” Beard said. “I was real cold. I came out like Robert Horry.”
Beard got beat by Clowney but recovered to push him by Murray on the touchdown pass to Scott-Wesley, Murray said. Scott-Wesley was the second option.
–Richt didn’t have an update on Gates (ankle) and tailback Keith Marshall who appeared to have a leg injury of some sort. He was jogging some after coming out of the game. Todd Gurley had 132 yards on 30 carries and Marshall had 58 on seven.
–About that onsides kick that Georgia recovered.
Georgia assistant Kirk Olviadotti, who was on the Redskins staff when Steve Spurrier was head coach, came to Richt on Sunday night and thought it would work.
“He just felt like they were too wide on the front line,” Richt said. “They were too far apart from each other. There was just a crease, a gap that was too big.”
Richt said the key was not having too slow a kick.
“Any time you can steal a possession from another team, it’s huge,” Richt said. “And a great momentum play for us.”
–Josh Harvey-Clemons recovered a fumble in his first game back from a one-game suspension.
“Well, I’m glad he’s back,” Richt said.
He had five tackles playing primarily the star position.
“I didn’t feel like I had a good game, but I did my job,” said Harvey-Clemons.
–Freshman cornerback Brendan Langley got beat on a pair of touchdown passes to Nick Jones of 18 and 30 yards.
“It’s not easy to play corner in this league or any league for that matter in college football,” Richt said. “You’re going to get challenged, especially if you’re a rookie. He got beat once or twice but he hung in there.”
Grantham said Langley was supposed to get safety help.
“It’s 11 guys out there,” Grantham said. “We’ve all got to do something. …When they put it in formation to the boundary, you ought to know what’s coming. They’re going to try to throw it up. We need to play that better.”
–Richt, of course, loved Georgia’s offense killing the clock in the final 8:28 to keep South Carolina getting the ball back again after the goal-line stand.
“I said `How glorious would it be if we could end this game right now and them not touch the ball again?’” Richt said. “I was shooting for 99 yards, but however many we got was enough to finish the game.”
Said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier: “They kicked our tails up and down the field, we couldn’t stop them and they made a bunch of third-down conversions.”
Freshman Brendan Douglas from Augusta rushed for 31 yards on five carries on the drive.
“That was huge,” Richt said. “That was by far my most favorite part of the game to be able to keep moving the ball.”
–Georgia now gets the first of two bye weeks on its schedule before playing North Texas on Sept. 21.
“That was a fantastic game. So proud of everybody,” Richt said as he entered the postgame news conference. “What a war. Just to think that we’ve got a bunch more like it coming up I can’t imagine. I’m glad we have an open date and have some to rest and enjoy it here for a little bit.”
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marc.weiszer