Buffalo at No. 6 Georgia: Postgame Grades for the Bulldogs' Win vs. the Bulls
Anyone who was watching the game knows that Georgia did not put forth its best effort against Buffalo.
While the Bulldogs were able to pull away from the Bulls in the second half, they had chances to blow past the Bulls in the first half but could not do it.
This could be a good thing for the Bulldogs because it gives them a a chance to clean up some things before they play Missouri next week.
Here are the postgame grades for the Bulldogs' win against the Bulls.
Aaron Murray struggled in the first half, overthrowing open receivers in the end zone. But he rebounded nicely in the second half and finished with 258 passing yards and three touchdowns.
It's clear that Murray is the Bulldogs' most valuable player on offense. If he has a good game, the offense thrives.
This was not his best performance by any means. But he was able to lead the offense to nearly 500 total yards and 45 points.
That's not bad for the first game of the year.
Running Backs: A-
The running game got going in the second half thanks to the two freshmen, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley.
Marshall had 10 carries for 51 yards and looked explosive. But Gurley set Athens on fire, rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, and returning a kickoff 100 yards for another score.
Ken Malcome was also solid before injuring his hand. He rushed for 32 yards on six carries.
Even fullback Merritt Hall got in the mix, with one carry for five yards.
The running game is vital for the Bulldogs' success, so it was good to see the team rush for 227 yards.
Wide Receivers: A-
Murray completed passes to only four receivers, but those four made key plays.
Tavarres King led all receivers with six receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Michael Bennett and Rantavious Wooten also had touchdown receptions, and Chris Conley had a couple of big catches.
Not having Malcolm Mitchell at receiver is not a bad thing. On Saturday, it gave players like Wooten and Conley more opportunities to make plays.
Tight End: B-
Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome did not have any receptions but did a solid job opening holes for the running backs.
Lynch is the No. 1 tight end because of his blocking ability and his play on special teams. Both of those traits were on display Saturday.
Rome is going to be a star in this offense. He will get his receptions this year. It's just a matter of time.
Offensive Line: C+
The offensive linemen got pushed around by the Bulls defensive line at the start of the game, but once they got their feet wet, they played a lot better, which opened the door for Murray and the backs.
John Theus had some mistakes but played well before he went down with an injury.
Kenarious Gates, Chris Burnette, Dallas Lee and David Andrews were solid.
It was not a great performance because there were some miscues and Murray did get sacked a few times. But once the offensive line got into the rhythm, the rest of the offense got right in line.
Defensive Line: C-
This was not a great effort by a defensive line that was projected to be one of the best in the country.
Cornelius Washington, Abry Jones, Kawme Geathers and John Jenkins had their share of issues shedding blocks and making tackles. As a result, the Bulls rushed for 199 yards, with 147 coming in the first half.
The D-line played better in the second half, but it can't afford to start slowly next week.
Because the defensive line had issues with the Buffalo offensive line, the linebackers could not make as many big plays.
Jarvis Jones was the only player who was constantly making big plays. He had 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
Amarlo Herrera, Michael Gilliard and Christian Robinson played okay, but they did not play at the same level as Jones.
Defensive Backs: B
Buffalo quarterback Alex Zordich threw the ball well, but he could not make the big pass plays like Murray did in the second half because of the play of the Georgia secondary.
Branden Smith and Shawn Williams had pass breakups and Damian Swann was all over the field.
Connor Norman also played well, racking up four tackles at the free safety position.
Let's hope Malcolm Mitchell will be back in the lineup next week. That will make the secondary stronger.
Special Teams: A-
The special teams were strong, and that is a good sign if you're a Bulldogs fan.
Marshall Morgan missed a 45-yard field goal in the first quarter, but nailed a 35-yarder in the second.
Colin Barber averaged 51 yards on two punts.
The return game was on point as well. Gurley had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Swann had a 30-yard punt return.
It looks like the combination of Gurley, Swann and Smith will be able to replace Brandon Boykin.
It looked as if the Bulldogs were not prepared in the first half, but the coaches must have given the players an earful at halftime because the team pulled away from the Bulls in the second half.
Todd Grantham's defense was not as aggressive as it has been in the past.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo came up with some nice plays that led to some important scores.
Mark Richt gets another opening day win by sticking to the game plan, even when things did not look great for the Bulldogs.
Overall, the coaching could have been better, but it was a 20-point win. Now the coaching staff has to make sure the players learn from their mistakes and get ready for Missouri.
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