LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Some notes, quotes and observations from Georgia’s 29-24 win against Kentucky on Saturday night:
• Needless to say, Georgia’s defensive issues are clearly not solved. Kentucky had been a train wreck on offense in conference play and the Wildcats posted new SEC-season highs in points (24), first downs (21), rushing yards (206), total offense (329) and matched their SEC-season high for third-down conversions (6-for-14).
Give Todd Grantham and company credit for adjusting since Kentucky started out 4-for-5 on third down and went just 2-for-9 afterward. But this Wildcats team hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown in the first quarter since the 2010 season. They had only three first-quarter points in seven previous games this season. And yet they moved the ball straight down the field like they were Oregon to open the game with a touchdown.
• It’s reasonable to wonder about the impact that defensive veterans Jarvis Jones and Abry Jones (Jarvis didn’t play at all because of a sprained ankle and Abry re-aggravated an injured ankle on the game’s third play) might have had on the game. Certainly the Bulldogs would have been better off, as they left a lot to be desired. And it was unclear after the game whether either of them will be available against Florida.
Here is Richt’s full response when asked about what Jarvis’ absence meant and what he expects from him, health wise, this week:
“We’ve got plenty of good players at Georgia and I definitely wouldn’t sit there and say because Jarvis wasn’t there that we didn’t play a certain way on defense. We’ve got to play good regardless of if he was in there. Overall we played good enough to win the ballgame as a team and I’m pleased with that, but it would be nice if Jarvis was back. I’m not sure he will be. He definitely could not have played tonight. He is working hard at getting better. We brought him on this trip just to get him as much rehab as we possibly could. We knew it was going to be a long day today, so we had time to make sure he got some good treatment with Ron Courson, our head of sports medicine. So could he have played today? No. Will he be able to practice Monday? I hope so. I’m not even sure of that.”
• Of course it’s a lot to ask of a true freshman, but Jordan Jenkins had a fairly quiet night replacing Jarvis in the lineup. He had two tackles, 0.5 for a loss. He took some of the blame for Kentucky’s success moving the ball, particularly on its opening 84-yard touchdown drive.
“The first half, I think a good bit of it was me not coming down. The first series was a terrible series for me,” he said. “The first play, I got my neck cut up (He showed it to me. There was a dime-sized chunk of skin gone from the left side of his neck). The second play, I thought I had a stinger and the third play, I got my ankle rolled and I couldn’t set the edge because I didn’t want to hurt my ankle. I kept trying to soft-play it and use my hands and that was opening up a seam.”
• Georgia’s Aaron Murray gave one of the best single-game performances by a quarterback that I’ve ever seen in person -- and it came on the heels of perhaps his worst career performance (a 109-yard outing against South Carolina).
Murray was 30-for-38 for 427 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions against Kentucky, which plays a whole bunch of freshmen in the secondary so it was obviously susceptible to a passing game that features Tavarres King (nine catches, 188 yards, two TDs), Malcolm Mitchell (9-103) and Marlon Brown (4-43). It wasn’t surprising that Murray exploited their secondary -- setting career highs for completions and passing yards and claiming the school career record with his 75th touchdown pass -- but it was impressive nonetheless.
He’d need to have that kind of game against a better-respected defense -- let’s be frank, he’d need to do it next week against Florida -- to join the Heisman Trophy race, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities after the favorites continue to stumble. It’s safe to assume that West Virginia’s Geno Smith, previously the odds-on favorite, isn’t winning after the Mountaineers have been blown out in each of the last two weeks. The favorite right now might be Kansas State’s Collin Klein, but Murray can enter the picture if he stays on the pace he’s on as it would rank among the best in SEC history in several passing categories.
Extrapolating his stats (130-for-199 for 1,914 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions) over a 13-game season, Murray is on pace to finish 241-for-370 (65.3 percent) for 3,555 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. That completion percentage over the course of a season would be the fourth best by an SEC quarterback. The yardage total would rank 11th and the touchdown total would tie for 13th according to the SEC media guide.
• Linebacker Alec Ogletree led the team in tackles for the second time in the three games since he has been back from suspension -- and the seventh time in the last eight games in which he has played. Ogletree had 11 tackles, one for a 6-yard loss and a third-down stop off a reverse late in the third quarter.