Georgia Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Ole Miss Game
The 2012 Georgia Bulldogs have struggled to put together a complete game in all phases so far in 2012. A signature win over a Top 10 team was nice against Florida, but that was the defense carrying the offense (for a change) in that one.
Against Ole Miss, Dawg Nation finally got what they wanted all season, as both the offense and defense put together a complete performance in the same game.
Let’s take a look at how the Dawgs brought it together and hand out grades for all 22 starters.
Quarterback Aaron Murray
After turning in one of the worst showings of his career at UGA last week against Florida, Murray came out firing on all cylinders against Ole Miss.
The Rebels were dealing with some injuries in the secondary, and Murray took advantage, going 21-of-28 for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Murray characteristically spread the ball around, completing passes to 11 different Georgia players.
It’s either feast or famine with Murray. Against Ole Miss, Thanksgiving came early for the Dawgs.
Running Back Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley topped the 100-yard mark for the sixth time in nine games this season on Saturday.
Although we haven’t seen the ridiculously long breakaway runs quite so much in the latter half of the season, Gurley continues to be a force out of the Georgia backfield.
Gurley finished the afternoon with 117 yards on 18 carries.
Fullback Alexander Ogletree
Filling in for the injured Merritt Hall, Alexander Ogletree got the start this week. Ogletree got a couple of other firsts this week, with his first carry and his first touchdown, both of which came on his only touch of the afternoon.
Besides the score, Ogletree also did a good job lead-blocking for the tailbacks and pass-protecting Aaron Murray on play-action out of the I-formation offense.
The Offensive Line
The offensive line played well against Ole Miss. The unit was able to get good push up front and consistently open holes for Todd Gurley.
However, the line still needs to improve its pass protection for Aaron Murray. It looks good at times, as evidenced by Murray’s huge day through the air, but is too inconsistent.
The unit gave up five first-half sacks before finding its groove in the second half. Freshman John Theus continued to struggle against the speed rush around the edge.
Tight End Jay Rome
Jay Rome turned in his best game of the season with three catches for 27 yards as Georgia slowly but surely continues to get the tight ends more involved in the offense.
Rome also did a good job of blocking for the Dawgs when he was in the game.
Wide Receiver/Kick Returner Malcolm Mitchell
Mitchell had another solid day for the Dawgs, catching three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. With Murray spreading the ball around the way he does, Mitchell doesn't see as many passes thrown his way as he might otherwise. Still, he capitalizes when he does get the ball in his hands.
As a kick returner, Mitchell continues to frustrate with his decision-making. I don’t know if the coaching staff is telling him to bring it out five yards deep in the end zone, but he rarely makes it to the 25 when he does. There was also one punt return that Mitchell let bounce instead of fair catching and then tried to return it, costing Georgia 10-to-15 yards in field position.
Wide Receiver Marlon Brown
Marlon Brown had another great game against Ole Miss. Unfortunately, it will be his last as a Dawg, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter.
Brown got Georgia on the scoreboard on a great play-action fake by Aaron Murray on a 3rd-and-1 that left Brown uncovered and trotting to the end zone for a 66-yard strike. Brown added two more catches before leaving the game, finishing with 113 yards on the day.
Wide Receiver Tavarres King
After having zero catches against Florida last week, Tavarres King was largely absent from this game as well, catching only one pass against the Rebels.
However, that catch was an important one. Looking at going into the half down 10-7, Murray scrambled with seconds remaining in the second quarter and found King for a huge 40-yard touchdown pass to put Georgia up 14-10. That play put the Bulldogs up for good and seemed to break the will of Ole Miss.
With Marlon Brown out for the season, King is going to have to step up and be a bigger part of the offense moving forward.
Nose Tackle John Jenkins
Jenkins finished the day with only one tackle. However, as has so often been the case in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme, Jenkins' main role is to eat up blocks and free up the linebackers to make plays. In that respect, Jenkins had another solid day for the Dawgs.
Defensive End Garrison Smith
Still filling in for the injured Abry Jones, Garrison Smith continues to make the most of the opportunity and had another fine showing for the Dawgs against Ole Miss.
Smith seemed to be all around the ball and finished the afternoon with seven total tackles and a sack.
Inside Linebacker Amarlo Herrera
Herrera continued his steady play at inside linebacker Saturday against the Rebels. He was a physical presence in the middle and tallied five total tackles.
Inside Linebacker Alec Ogletree
Alec Ogletree has been one of the top performing defenders all season for the Dawgs, and nothing about that changed on Saturday against Ole Miss.
Racking up 11 total tackles was impressive enough, but add on a sack an interception and a safety, and it’s another easy A for ‘Tree this week.
Outside Linebacker Jarvis Jones
Jarvis Jones didn’t show up heavy on the stat sheet, recording only three total tackles on the day—but that hardly tells the whole story.
Jones affects the game just by being on the field. Clearly, Ole Miss wanted no part of Jones and kept the play-calling away from the linebacker for most of the afternoon.
So, again, while not racking up huge numbers, Jones contained his side of the field and pushed plays to his teammates all day.
Cornerback Branden Smith
The entire Georgia secondary had a very good game against the Rebels, and Smith was no exception.
He had four total tackles and two passes defended against Ole Miss, including a great pass breakup on a third down that stalled the Rebels’ second drive of the second quarter.
Cornerback Sanders Commings
Sanders Commings had a serviceable day for the Dawgs—nothing spectacular but nothing bad either. He finished the day with five total tackles, four of which were solo.
Nickel Cornerback Damian Swann
Swann was swarming all over the field for the Dawgs against Ole Miss, seemingly finding himself in the right place at the right time all afternoon.
He finished with three tackles, a sack, a pass defended and two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for 53 yards.
Free Safety Bacarri Rambo
Rambo had another great day for the resurgent Georgia defense against the Rebels. He tallied seven total tackles, five of which were solo, and forced the fumble that Swann returned for 53 yards.
Strong Safety Shawn Williams
Continue to credit Williams for calling out the “soft” Georgia defense. In the two games since that statement, the Bulldogs defense seems to have returned to the top-five-caliber defense it was a season ago.
Despite just missing jumping a route that led to a big gain for the Rebels on their opening drive, Williams played solid for the rest of the game. He finished with four tackles (three solo), a sack and a pass breakup.