We’re officially a quarter of the way through the 2012 season and the Georgia Bulldogs are 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
Through the first four games, UGA is looking like it may just be the most complete team from top to bottom in the Mark Richt era.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 performers for the Bulldogs through September.
One of the big questions coming into 2012 was how the Bulldogs would replace placekicker Blair Walsh. Despite having a subpar season in 2011, Walsh was a superb kicker for the Bulldogs throughout his career.
So far through September, true freshman Marshall Morgan has answered the call. Although admittedly a little shaky on PATs, Morgan has made three of four field goal attempts, with his only miss coming in the season opener and from 45 yards out. Still, Morgan did show his range with a 52-yard field goal against Missouri.
Granted, Vasser has only played in two games because of a two-game suspension to start the season. But since his return versus FAU, Vasser has looked very good at outside linebacker.
It’s not so much his stat sheet that earned his way on this list, though he has put up fairly good numbers with 11 total tackles and a forced fumble in his two games.
What’s been so impressive is his nose for the football. When he’s in the game, Vasser always seems to be all around the the ball. Also, he has very good speed for his size and has shown the ability to chase down ball carriers from behind.
Expect big things from Vasser for the rest of the season.
Keith Marshall has looked great in his first four collegiate games. The true freshman out of North Carolina has had to share significant playing time with Todd Gurley and Ken Malcome, but looks to be all he was advertised to be after being so highly recruited out of high school.
Marshall has been especially impressive in the last two games against FAU and Vanderbilt. Against the Owls, Marshall put up his first 100-yard game, going for 104 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. He got only 10 carries again against Vanderbilt but made the most of them, racking up 82 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior Tavarres King has improved in every year as a Bulldog and is on pace for a 1,000-yard season in 2012. Through the first quarter of the regular season, King already has amassed 269 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
King also leads all Georgia wide receivers that have recorded more than two receptions with a gaudy 19.2 yards-per-catch average, which is also good for fifth in the SEC.
Despite having only two catches for 10 yards against Vanderbilt, junior Michael Bennett still leads the Bulldogs in receptions and receiving yards through the first four games.
Although he appeared in nearly every game in 2011, Bennett is close to matching last season’s stats through only the first quarter of the regular season in 2012.
Besides showing off his route running skills, speed and great hands, Bennett has also made big contributions to the Bulldogs with his downfield blocking, springing some big runs and catches for his teammates.
Herrera came into his own in 2011 after being pushed into action to fill in for injured linebackers Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson, and he hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down since.
So far in 2012, Herrera leads the team in total tackles with 30. He has also posted two tackles for loss and had a big pick-six against FAU.
Just a sophomore, Herrera has a very bright future with the Dawgs.
It’s so great to be able to put Marlon Brown up high on this list. Very highly recruited out of high school, Brown has had a fairly disappointing career at Georgia, seemingly injury-plagued every season.
Now in his senior season, the Bulldog Nation is finally getting a glimpse of a healthy Brown and he is certainly not disappointing. Brown sat out the season opener versus Buffalo, but has come on strong in the last three games.
Despite playing one less game, Brown is close behind Michael Bennett in both receptions and yards. Also, his three touchdowns in as many games is tied with Tavarres King for the team lead. Like Bennett and King, Brown is also on pace to have a 1,000-yard season for the Dawgs.
True freshman Todd Gurley has been an absolute beast for Georgia through the first quarter of the regular season. There’s really no other way to put it.
He leads the Bulldogs in every rushing category. In fact, he leads the SEC in rushing yards, average yards-per-carry, yards-per-game and is tied for first in rushing touchdowns. Did I mention he’s a true freshman?
Gurley has also proved himself quite a kickoff returner, averaging nearly 35 yards-per-return—second in the SEC—including a 100-yard return for a touchdown against Buffalo.
Now in his junior season, Aaron Murray has become the unquestioned leader of the Georgia offense. It’s easy to see why his teammates would be eager to follow him.
Granted, he has yet to face his stiffest competition through the first quarter of the season, but Murray is on pace for another 3,000-yard passing season and 30 touchdowns.
Really, Murray has done everything Bulldogs fans could hope for after a record-setting 2011 season. Through the first four games, he has improved his completion percentage and has cut down on interceptions with only two through four games.
With a solid, deep stable of running backs to complement him this season, the sky is the limit for Murray in 2012.
If there’s been any player more impressive than Murray, it’s got to be junior linebacker Jarvis Jones.
In his second year with the Bulldogs after transferring from Southern Cal, Jones is working his way into Heisman talk—no easy feat for a linebacker.
Jones' stats speak for themselves. He leads the SEC in tackles for loss with 7.5 and is tied for first in the conference with five sacks—and that’s despite sitting out the FAU game with a groin injury.
In the Missouri game, with the Tigers still battling the Bulldogs into the fourth quarter, Jones put UGA on his back and pretty much sealed the game all by himself. On consecutive possessions, he returned an interception to the Missouri one-yard line, then forced a James Franklin fumble that was recovered on the Missouri five. Both turnovers lead to Georgia touchdowns.
Not only is Jones a tremendous football player, but he is a leader and makes the players around him better. With Jones at the helm and starters Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo almost certainly returning this week against Tennessee, the Bulldog defense will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season.