The pressure was on the Georgia Bulldogs. It was on head coach Mark Richt. It was on a young Georgia defense and a disappointing Georgia offensive line. But mostly, it was on quarterback Aaron Murray.
After a week where everyone kept saying that he couldn’t win the big game, Aaron Murray threw for four touchdowns and 309 yards to lead the No. 11 Bulldogs to a 41-30 victory over the No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks.
Murray got his team on the board with 7:38 left to go in the first quarter with a three yard touchdown pass to Arthur Lynch to make the score 7-3 (South Carolina got an early field goal with 9:28 left in the first).
He would follow up that effort with a touchdown pass in the second quarter, the third quarter and then cap it off with an 85-yard bomb to Justin Scott-Wesley for his fourth TD in the fourth quarter . Coming into the game, most wouldn’t expect Murray to throw touchdowns in every quarter against Jadeveon Clowney and a strong South Carolina D-line, but that’s exactly what happened.
For the second week in a row, Clowney was much of a non-factor (at least to the standards many people are holding him to) seeing some time on the bench with an apparent foot injury. Georgia’s offensive line did extremely well against him, and the rest of the South Carolina defense on both passing and rushing plays–speaking of rushing…
Todd Gurley continued to dazzle the college football world, rushing 28 times for 127 yards and a touchdown, as well as picking up his first receiving touchdown in the third quarter.
Gurley looked unstoppable for the majority of the game, powering through defenders repeatedly. Going forward in the season the combination of Murray and Gurley is going to be extremely dangerous and opposing defenses are going to be kept off-balance all night long.
Keith Marshall also did well in limited time, picking up seven carries for 58 yards. However the other running back that stood out for me late in the game was Brendan Douglass, who was showing off some strength and moving the chains for Georgia when they needed to keep the clock running. He only got four carries but averaged 6.3 yards on each to get a total of 25 yards during the game.
As good as the Georgia offense was, the defense… still has some questions to answer, and particularly, at corner back.
It was well-known coming into the season that Georgia would be fielding an unproven and young defense but freshman CB Brendan Langley looked outmatched on almost every play, getting beat for touchdowns on two separate occasions (much to the ire of twitter).
The Bulldogs aren’t going to be able to win shootouts throughout the SEC so there is a lot of work to be done in this area. Either Langley is going to have to make a lot of progress as a true freshman on a big time college team, or someone else is going to have to take over. Either way, something needs to happen.
However, I can’t be too critical of a team who stepped up in an incredibly big spot early in the year. They did what they needed to do on offense the entire day and the defense I just criticized had a huge stop in the fourth quarter when South Carolina was knocking on the one yard line.
Far from the prettiest game you’ll ever see, but it was a great one to watch and the pressure is certainly off the shoulders of Aaron Murray and the rest of the Georgia Bulldogs–at least for a little bit.