Georgia got a fabulous debut performance from freshman tailback Todd Gurley, but the sixth-ranked Bulldogs got more resistance than most would have expected in its season opener on Saturday.
Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) runs a kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter as Georgia takes on the Buffalo Bulls at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012 in Athens, Ga. Richard Hamm/Staff
Buffalo, a team coming off a 3-9 season last year, hung with Georgia into the third quarter before the Bulldogs scored three straight touchdowns en route to a 45-23 victory before an announced crowd of 92,446 in Sanford Stadium.
Georgia played the game without four suspended defensive starters (Bacarri Rambo, Alec Ogletree, Sanders Commings and Chase Vasser) and was missing another (Malcolm Mitchell) with a sprained ankle.
“We’ve got some things to clean up, there’s no doubt about that,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team plays a highly-anticipated SEC opener next against new conference foe Missouri. “We had a play with 10 men on the field and a play with 12 men on the field. We had some issues that should not happen.”
In his first college game, Gurley rushed for 100 yards on eight carries and scored three touchdowns–returning a kickoff 100 yards for a score and finding the end zone on runs 10 and 55 yards.
“The pressure really didn’t get to him,” said receiver Tavarres King, who had 117 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches. “It was like he was just running the ball in practice.”
Buffalo, which trailed just 24-16 at halftime, piled up 199 rushing yards and 347 total yards against a Georgia defense that ranked fifth in the nation last year in yards allowed.
“I think we’ve got work to do,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “I think there’s some good things, but there were some inconsistencies that created some explosive plays. I thought we played much better in the second half.”