Off to the races: Georgia’s offensive numbers rank among best in SEC, country

The Southeastern Conference’s top team in total offense resides in Athens.

The second-highest scoring team does, too.

Piling up yards and points against a schedule thus far of Buffalo, Missouri and Florida Atlantic certainly isn’t the same as doing it against No. 1 Alabama or No. 2 LSU, but No. 5 Georgia has reason to be encouraged by its offensive showing after scoring 40 or more points in its first three games for the first time in program history.

“I know our guys see the potential, see what we can do,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “We’ve just got to keep practicing the way we’ve been practicing the last couple of weeks and we’ll be a scary offense.”

Georgia’s 713 total yards in its 56-20 win against Florida Atlantic Saturday night was the third most by an FBS team this season, behind the 753 Akron put up against Morgan State and the 742 Oklahoma State rolled up versus Louisiana-Lafayette.

It was the most yards amassed by an SEC team since 2007, when Arkansas had the same total against North Texas. That’s tied for the sixth most in SEC history.

“They’re 3-0 and they’re scoring a bunch of points,” said Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, whose team plays at Georgia on Saturday night. “Right now, probably the biggest difference between last year and this year’s team that I’m seeing on tape is just how explosive they’ve been on offense and how consistent they’ve been on offense and how well they’re executing with a veteran team.”

Georgia got 100-yard rushing games Saturday from freshmen tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and has had a different receiver with a 100-yard game each week.

It was Tavarres King in Week One, Marlon Brown in Week Two and Michael Bennett in Week Three.

“We do have a lot of versatility, a lot of diversity,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “There is no one guy, which is great. That’s great because when people look at film defensively, they definitely are trying to find to see who are the most productive guys and find a way to try to shut them down. For them to look at our receiving corps, they’re going to say, ‘We’ve just got to play as balanced as we can,’ in my opinion.”

A week after linebacker Jarvis Jones’ named popped up in some Heisman Trophy talk, Murray is now being mentioned.

The fourth-year junior is No. 2 on “Heisman Pundit” Chris Huston’s list of players that “currently stand the best chance of actually winning the Heisman Trophy.” West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is No. 1.

Murray has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 842 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions.

“There’s a lot of experience at the skill positions besides running back,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “There’s guys that have made plays in big-time ball games at the receiver and the quarterback position. They’ve got to continue to do that for us to be successful and for us not to put too much pressure on the young running backs.”

Bobo considers fourth-year junior tight end Arthur Lynch, who had three catches for 73 yards and a touchdown Saturday, as one of those experienced players, even though he was a backup before this season.

“Great receivers and terrific quarterback,” said Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini, the defensive coordinator the past four seasons at Nebraska. “A lot of speed. They run the ball well enough that they put you into some difficult situations. They put your safeties into some pass conflicts and they certainly have the speed to get behind you if you’re not disciplined back there. I think they execute their offense well.”

Georgia’s numbers — 10th in the nation in scoring at 47.3 points per game and 20th in total offense at 517.7 yards per game — aren’t what Bobo is making judgments on. His opinion is based on what he sees as improvement from week to week.

“I like our team’s focus when they start the week off in practice, I like how they prepare,” he said. “That’s our goal, to get better every week. The bottom line is winning ball games, I don’t care how we do it, but I do like how our guys have answered when opponents have scored.”

Georgia’s revamped offensive line — which lost three starters from last season — didn’t give up a sack against Florida Atlantic.

“I see them coming together,” Richt said. “We’ve got a way to go yet. …I think we have a lot less missed assignments than we had a year ago. We’re probably not quite as physical as a year ago.”

Murray obviously likes what he sees. He treated his offensive linemen to some ice cream Sunday night at Ben & Jerry’s

“Love no sacks!” he tweeted.

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