ATHENS, Ga. -- No. 7 Georgia got off to another uneven start Saturday night against Florida Atlantic, but Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs’ offense poured it on to set numerous single-game records in a 56-20 victory over the Owls.
Among the highlights was a new UGA standard for total offense with a whopping 713 yards on 63 plays, as well as new career highs for Murray (342 passing yards), Michael Bennett (110 receiving yards), Todd Gurley (111 rushing yards) and Keith Marshall (104 rushing yards). Let’s look at some of the other highs and lows from Saturday’s blowout that gave Georgia its first 3-0 start since 2008:
1. Offensive explosion
Georgia scored more than 40 points for the third time in three games, marking the first time in program history that has happened to open a season. The Bulldogs’ offense essentially dominated from the start, scoring touchdowns on eight of its first 11 possessions.
2. Backs break out
Gurley rushed for 100 yards in a season-opening win against Buffalo and close friend Marshall joined him in the 100-yard club against FAU. The two freshmen and sophomore Ken Malcome (seven carries for46 yards) helped Georgia rush for 328 yards -- its best single-game effort since an upset win against Georgia Tech in 2009.
3. Defensive adjustments
As bad as Georgia’s defense looked at points in the first half -- and make no mistake, it looked bad for a while -- Todd Grantham’s unit regrouped admirably at intermission. The Bulldogs surrendered just 55 yards of offense in the second half and forced five three-and-outs, a turnover on downs and had linebacker Amarlo Herrera return an interception for a touchdown after halftime.
1. Absences continue
The Bulldogs got defensive back Sanders Commings and outside linebacker Chase Vasser back from suspension, but star outside linebacker Jarvis Jones sat out with a groin injury, defensive end Cornelius Washington played very little because of a hamstring injury and safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree remained sidelined by suspensions. The absences certainly contributed to Georgia’s early defensive struggles.
2. Sluggish start
Speaking of those struggles, it was the second time in three games -- also including the Buffalo game -- that Georgia’s defense started slowly against an opponent that most expected it to dominate. Buffalo gained 243 yards in the first half and trailed 24-16 at the break and the FAU game was similar, with the Owls accounting for 263 yards and 14 points before intermission Saturday.
3. Turnover trouble
An Arthur Lynch fumble halted Georgia’s second drive, Murray threw a third-quarter interception in the FAU end zone and redshirt freshman quarterback Christian LeMay lost a pair of turnovers. The giveaways were not costly against FAU, but the Bulldogs know they must take better care of the ball now that they are entering the bulk of their SEC schedule.