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By the numbers: UGA at Missouri

9/6/2012

Editor’s note: Each week, the good folks at ESPN Stats and Information will help us take a look inside the numbers that matter before Georgia’s games. We’ll share some of their data here on the blog every Friday this fall.

GEORGIA AT MISSOURI

7:45 p.m. ET Saturday

Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium, Columbia, Mo.

* Last week in this space, we detailed Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray’s 2011 struggles completing passes of 20 yards or more. He hit two deep passes for touchdowns last week against Buffalo -- a 63-yard bomb to Tavarres King and a 38-yard strike to Rantavious Wooten -- but also overthrew King and Wooten on other deep-ball attempts.

This week we will focus on Murray’s strong first step in 2012 while passing off of play-action fakes. He struggled mightily in that area last season, throwing eight of his 14 interceptions after carrying out a run fake along with eight of his touchdowns (versus 27 touchdowns and six picks without play action).

But last week against Buffalo, Murray went 8-for-14 for 169 yards and threw all three of his touchdowns (and no interceptions) after carrying out a play-action fake.

* Another Murray passing stat to chew on: He threw 15 of his 26 pass attempts (or 57.7 percent) after lining up under center against Buffalo. Just 25 percent of his passes in 2011 came after taking the snap from under center.

* King completed his first back-to-back 100-yard games with 117 receiving yards last week against Buffalo, nine months after torching Michigan State for 205 yards in the Outback Bowl.

More than half of his yardage in the last two games has come after the catch. Or to be exact, 178 out of King’s 322 receiving yards against Michigan State and Buffalo came after he caught the pass. King had 97 yards after the catch TOTAL in the first 13 games of the 2011 season before erupting for the school-record 205 yards against the Spartans in the bowl loss.

King was targeted 9.5 times per game in the last two games versus 6.2 times on average in the first 13 games of 2011. He is averaging six catches and 161 yards per game in those two outings versus 3.2 catches and 38.5 yards per games in the first 13 games last season.

* By forcing eight three-and-outs against Buffalo, Georgia’s defense moved into first place nationally since the start of the 2011 season with 68 total three-and-outs. The Bulldogs are now ahead of Alabama, last season’s leader, by five.

Georgia’s forcing three-and-outs on eight of Buffalo’s 14 drives (57.1 percent) marked the highest percentage and most three-and-outs forced by a Georgia defense in one game since the start of the 2004 season.

Following Georgia (68) and Alabama (63) in most three-and-outs forced since the start of the 2011 season are Houston (61), Florida State (58) and Boise State (58).