- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Some late-night notes and thoughts following Georgia’s 56-20 destruction of Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.
* I wrote a ton about Georgia’s offensive explosion already, so we won’t delve into that too much here. The story of the game was a bit different when FAU had 263 yards at halftime. Sophomore linebacker Amarlo Herrera explained the problem to me after the game:
“It was just another bad start,” he said. “We had too many mental errors. We weren’t communicating that good out there. We got that corrected.”
Give defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and his players credit, though. They pitched a shutout in the second half and gave up only 55 yards. I’m sure it’s difficult for them to communicate efficiently with a “revolving door” -- as coach Mark Richt put it -- of defensive players shuttling in and out because of an assortment of issues. Obviously not having injured OLB Jarvis Jones tonight made things a bit more difficult for the defense, as well.
* In one of those moments where you’ll miss if you’re not watching, it was kind of sweet to see Georgia’s players celebrate Arthur Lynch’s touchdown catch in the third quarter. The kid hadn’t caught a pass since 2009, took a redshirt in 2010 that he didn’t really want to take so he could get some separation between himself and Orson Charles, and came back last season in a strictly blocking role. He has done everything Richt’s staff has asked of him and he’s clearly well-liked, so a bunch of guys were obviously happy to see him get the monkey off his back and get a few catches tonight (actually he had three for 73 yards -- easily a career high) and his first career touchdown.
On the touchdown catch, initially the officials ruled Lynch down at the FAU 2-yard line, but they overturned the ruling and gave him a TD upon review. When they did, you’d think he had just scored the game-winning touchdown by the way his roommate Christian Robinson jumped up in the air to celebrate. Lynch was preaching patience this past week when I asked him about not having any balls thrown his way yet, but he was obviously relieved after the game. He actually could have had a 100-yard night. He caught a fourth pass for 28 yards (which would have given him 101), but it came back on a holding penalty.
* I very briefly spoke with Jones in the tunnel as the players were walking from the locker room to the buses. When I asked him if he could have played, he kind of shrugged and said he could have. But it was evident when we watched him at Wednesday’s practice that he wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent. Jordan Jenkins, who started in Jarvis’ place, said other players started telling him around Wednesday that he’d better be prepared to play. Richt said, “Probably by Thursday we were pretty sure that he just wasn’t coming around. We weren’t going to say he was out 100 percent by Thursday, but we had to start thinking about Plan B.”
Richt added that they were “probably taking a little risk” with senior defensive end Cornelius Washington trying to play on an injured hamstring. He didn’t play much, though. Receiver Rantavious Wooten also left the game with a knee contusion and did not return. He started tonight for the first time since 2009.
* Starting left guard Dallas Lee departed in the second quarter with an ankle sprain. I saw him in the tunnel riding on a golf cart, with crutches, after the game. Richt was not immediately sure whether he will be available for next Saturday’s Vanderbilt game or how severe the injury might be. I’m sure it will come up again on Richt’s Sunday teleconference. My fellow Alabamian Mark Beard jumped in at left tackle after Lee left, with Kenarious Gates shifting over to left guard. Beard seemed to think after the game that he played pretty well. He’s a fairly quiet guy who doesn’t usually have much to say (at least with reporters), but he was obviously excited to get his first regular playing time after competing only on PAT/field goals and in mop-up duty up to this point.
* Expect plenty of UGA-Vandy and Grantham-James Franklin chippy-ness stories this week. Richt kind of bristled when asked about next Saturday’s Vandy game. His quote was something like, “I know we’ll be ready for that game,” but I think you’d need to see or hear what he said rather than read what seems like a fairly innocuous statement. Find a video of the postgame presser somewhere and you’ll see what I mean. It was more like, “We want to kick their tails.” I think it’s safe to say that behind the scenes there is a lot more bad blood for this game than just from the Grantham-Franklin shouting match at the end.
* I doubt Georgia would have any way of determining this via its statistical archives, but I can’t imagine the Bulldogs have had as many as nine different players account for a gain of 24 yards or more in one game many times before -- if ever. The players: Michael Bennett (67-yard catch was his long play of the night), Malcolm Mitchell (49-yard catch), Justin Scott-Wesley (43-yard catch), Todd Gurley (38-yard run), Lynch (36-yard catch), Marlon Brown (34-yard catch), Keith Marshall (28-yard run), Tavarres King (28-yard catch) and Wooten (24-yard run).
* After going off for a career-high 110 receiving yards on four catches, Bennett is now leading the team in catches (17), receiving yards (265) and yards per game (88.3) and is tied for the team lead with two TD catches. He has been consistent so far with 76 yards against Buffalo, 79 against Missouri and 110 tonight.
* Christian LeMay’s 43-yard pass to Scott-Wesley early in the fourth quarter let us finally see what all the buzz was about with Scott-Wesley during the spring. We all knew Scott-Wesley was a state champion sprinter in high school and that he runs for Georgia’s track team, but it was the first time I’ve seen him in the open field with the ball in his hands. I think it’s safe to say Georgia will find ways to make that happen more often moving forward. Holy cow, the kid can fly.
* You might have noticed Georgia lining up occasionally tonight in the “Pistol” formation. Gurley’s 38-yard touchdown in the third quarter was actually out of that formation. Richt seemed pleased with its addition to the offense. He talked about how it makes it easier for the ball carrier to cut back on runs from the shotgun if a hole opens in the blocking scheme, rather than trying to do that on a zone run.
* Georgia safety Shawn Williams had a career-high 12 tackles, by the way. He has a team-high 25 tackles through three games.
* A quote from FAU coach Carl Pelini: "I think we can execute at a high level every week, but you have to remember where we are. We only have so many bullets in the gun." FAU plays at Alabama next week.
3dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough