ATHENS, Ga. -- Here are three things we learned in Georgia's 45-6 win against Appalachian State on Saturday.
Good week for a slow start: Georgia started fast and finished slow last week against Florida. But while the Bulldogs were stumbling out of the gate against Appalachian State on Saturday, next week's opponent, Auburn, was running circles around Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Georgia turned it into the blowout everyone expected in the second half -- outscoring the Mountaineers 31-0 and outgaining them 353 yards to 59 -- but it's clear that the Bulldogs can't afford such an uneven performance next Saturday on the Plains. The Tigers' offense is likely too explosive for the Bulldogs to wait until the second half to find a rhythm.
Run defense is sound: Georgia's defense struggled a bit in the first quarter, but even then its run defense remained solid. The Bulldogs surrendered 32 rushing yards on 32 attempts, including minus-6 on 18 attempts in the second half. That's one of the few encouraging signs entering next week's visit to Auburn. The Tigers picked up 444 yards on the ground against Tennessee -- 214 by ex-Bulldog Nick Marshall and 117 by running back Tre Mason -- and came into Saturday's games as the SEC's rushing leader at 306.2 yards per game. But the Bulldogs entered the day ranked fourth in the league against the run and lowered their per-game average from 137.8 to 126 yards allowed per game.
Offense is in good hands: Georgia fans were no doubt excited Saturday when they contemplated the Bulldogs' 2014 offense even without Aaron Murray, who broke the SEC's career touchdown passes record against Appalachian State when he hit magic No. 115. Junior Hutson Mason hit his first eight pass attempts and passed for 160 yards in the fourth quarter -- 988 of which came on four completions to juco transfer Jonathon Rumph, who made his first career receptions -- as the Bulldogs poured it on in the second half. With Murray, receiver Rantavious Wooten and tight end Arthur Lynch standing as the top departing senior skill players, Mason and company looked like they can still put up big numbers next fall.