Georgia Bulldogs: Quayvon Hicks
- A Nashville group is working to put together an annual, high-profile non-conference game for SEC teams to be played at LP Field, possibly as early as 2016.
- Former South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney said it's like “spit in the face” when observers accuse him of having taken plays off last season.
- Now that spring break is over, Butch Jones wants to see more from his young Tennessee team.
- For the second season in a row, Florida could have a freshman cornerback step into a starring role if Jalen Tabor and Duke Dawson keep up their impressive play.
- Quayvon Hicks and J.J. Green both resided in Georgia's running backs meeting room last year. Now they're both working elsewhere in an effort to fill holes on the roster.
- Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday that he hasn't fully decided how to punish the four players arrested last week on charges of illegal check cashing.
- Dak Prescott and De'Runnya Wilson discuss the spring competition between Mississippi State's offense and defense with the Jackson Clarion-Ledger's Michael Bonner.
- LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis has juggled his linebacker assignments this spring, with multiple players moving to new positions.
- Ole Miss sophomore Laremy Tunsil said he has championships to win before he begins worrying about a future in the NFL.
- Auburn's coaches are working with backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson to ensure that he can run the zone read in case starter Nick Marshall goes down.
- Following a medical procedure on his left shoulder, Vanderbilt's Kris Kentera will miss the remainder of spring practice.
- Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will appear on Gruden's QB Camp on ESPN on Thursday.
- Speaking of Johnny Football, he and his fellow Aggies will participate in their NFL pro day on Thursday.
- Linebacker Dillon Lee might fill multiple holes on Alabama's defense.
Today, we'll look at No. 4: The 2012 group that is still etching its legacy into Georgia history. We should revisit this ranking again in another couple years.
The contributors: With most of the class still having two or three years of eligibility left, the list of contributors should grow substantially. Quayvon Hicks has started to develop as a productive fullback, while offensive lineman Mark Beard and punter Collin Barber have played a larger role than many players who are still waiting to break through. Defensive lineman John Taylor and cornerback Sheldon Dawson have made minor contributions thus far, but could be names to watch for the future.
The letdowns: There has not been much attrition from the class yet, which is a good sign. Tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith was dismissed last summer and is the lone departure to this point. Otherwise, the disappointment for this class might be that some of the headliners haven't become consistent stars … yet. Jenkins, Theus and Harvey-Clemons have been good players so far, but they need to make further progress to live up to their billing as recruits.
The results: This will be a big year for this class' ultimate place in UGA history. Some members -- Gurley and Marshall in particular -- helped Georgia come within an eyelash of playing for the 2012 BCS crown. It was a disappointing 2013 for the class and program because of injuries and disciplinary issues, so they need to bounce back a bit in 2014. This might be Gurley's final season on campus, but most members of this group still have plenty of time to make sure Gurley won't be the only breakout performer to come from their class.
Since taking over as Georgia's quarterback in 2010, there has been a seemingly endless parade of skill players in and out of the Bulldogs' offensive lineup -- from A.J. Green's four-game absence to open Murray's freshman season, to regular tailback shuffling in 2011, to debilitating injuries at receiver last season, to considerable upheaval over the last two weeks of this season.
And he needs to be.
In Saturday's noon ET game against No. 25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0 SEC) Murray must deal with his biggest personnel challenge to date. With Georgia already without Malcolm Mitchell, who tore his ACL in the opener against Clemson, the Bulldogs lost two more key wideouts, Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett, last week against Tennessee. Tailback Keith Marshall also went down with a season-ending knee injury last Saturday, joining fellow star tailback Todd Gurley on the sidelines as the Bulldogs' high-scoring offense started to sputter without so many key pieces.
“I would say it affected not only the offense, but the team,” fullback Quayvon Hicks said. “It was players that are not only playmakers on the field, but great teammates. Losing them and knowing that they're not going to be out there, it's something that you've got to just suck it up and keep going.”
Murray and No. 7 Georgia (4-1, 3-0) barely salvaged the game, forcing overtime with a last-minute touchdown and winning 34-31 with a field goal in the extra session. The lone constant in Georgia's lineup over the last three-plus seasons, Murray's experience adjusting to the personnel around him might have been the difference in the outcome.
“You never really can truly practice everything that might happen in a game,” Bobo said. “So I think it's been a lot of experience for Aaron, obviously, to have to go through that and the game plan altered in the middle of a game. And then obviously myself with calling plays. You've just got to adjust. That's football, and I think any time you've got experience to draw back from instead of maybe something that you practiced, it's always beneficial.”
Injuries will force the Bulldogs to do some major adjusting over at least the next couple of weeks. Georgia coach Mark Richt said Gurley remains doubtful to play against Missouri and Bennett is probably out until at least the Nov. 2 game against Florida.
That leaves Bulldogs with little to no experience suddenly in the mix for playing time. Richt has mentioned walk-ons Kenny Towns and Michael Erdman as possible fill-ins at receiver, along with redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs, who has yet to appear in a game.
The running game could once again be in the hands of a group of true freshmen if Gurley is unable to go. It might even mean that A.J. Turman -- a clear redshirt candidate before Marshall's injury made that outcome less of a certainty -- joins fellow freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas in the backfield.
“[Turman] seems to be excited about getting reps with the ones or twos or whatever reps that he's getting right now,” Richt said. “He doesn't look like a guy who's bummed out about an opportunity, a possible opportunity. He seems to be a guy who's kind of anxious for it, so that helps.”
Georgia's running game could be a key factor in Saturday's game. The Bulldogs' still-developing defense will have its hands full with a Missouri offense that is one of only five in the country averaging at least 255 yards on the ground and 285 through the air. The UGA backs' ability to extend drives and keep the defense on the sideline will almost certainly be of major importance, and last year's game against the Tigers was not especially encouraging in that department.
Missouri actually outgained Georgia 371 yards to 355 last year and limited the Bulldogs' running game to just 113 yards -- 44 of which came on a single Gurley run. Georgia needs a more productive performance from Green, Douglas and the other backs if Gurley isn't there to power the Bulldogs' running game.
Otherwise, Georgia will lean more heavily on the injury-depleted receiving corps led by Chris Conley -- who would have redshirted in 2011 if not for injuries that led to his debut in the fourth game of that season.
In other words, Murray is far from the only offensive player on the roster who had to adapt on the fly because of personnel changes.
“It's definitely caused us to be mature,” Conley said. “And for guys to learn how to play in that situation, it's something that you're not comfortable doing naturally. Over the last couple of years, we've had multiple guys who had to become comfortable doing that -- stepping up, learning things on the fly, going in on a Saturday like they've been doing it all along.”
Georgia needs that trend to continue Saturday with some of the new faces in the lineup and old faces who will attempt new things. If they can handle this adjustment as capably as they have the others over the last couple of seasons, the Bulldogs still might be able to ride out their recent rash of debilitating injuries.
It capped a day where the sophomore claimed the SEC's special teams player of the week award for the second straight week after booting the longest field goal in Neyland Stadium history, a 56-yarder in the first quarter, and the game-winner in OT. But it wasn't much fun to be in Morgan's position at the time.
Otherwise, the Bulldogs' special-teams effort was memorable for the wrong reasons, continuing what has been a season-long trend. Collin Barber had a punt blocked for a touchdown -- the second time that has happened this season -- and Blake Sailors received a five-yard penalty for defensive delay of game after Georgia forced a third-quarter punt, giving Tennessee a fourth-and-1 that prompted the Volunteers to instead go for a first down.
Vols running back Rajion Neal then broke a 43-yard run that set up his game-tying touchdown run when Georgia's defense could have been off the field if not for the rarely-seen penalty.
“If you make a movement that it looks like you're trying to get somebody to jump offsides, if they jump offsides, it's on the defense. It's on us in that case,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I've never really seen that happen before and it was pretty crucial, obviously. We had a great stop and they were in a position to punt. I think it was a fourth-and-1 or less and they get the long run. A lot of bad plays happened after that point, and we learned a lesson. Can't do it.”
Quayvon Hicks -- one of three protectors in Georgia's punt shield lineup along with Arthur Lynch and Josh Dawson -- said there was a miscommunication on the play and accepted blame for the Tennessee block.
“I put that all on me,” Hicks said. “I would say it was a miscommunication, but it was something that could have been prevented. It will be something that we're really working on, especially me as a player, to make sure that it doesn't happen in the future.”
Hicks could have saved the day if he had blocked Jalen Reeves-Maybin before he darted through to deflect Barber's punt, but front-line blocker Leonard Floyd also barely got a hand on Reeves-Maybin.
Their collective whiff allowed the Tennessee rusher to break through, and Lynch said the decibel level in Neyland Stadium played a direct role in the miscommunication.
“It's so much easier going out and practicing and doing it, even if it's full-speed practice because you kind of have that communication barrier and it really was a lot louder than I think a lot of people thought,” Lynch said. “Lucas Redd looked at me and was like, 'I had to read your lips.' That was one of the things that you just can't have those types of setbacks. I think we've cleaned it up.”
A skeptic might point out that Georgia has vowed to clean up its special-teams errors several times recently, only to see another mistake lead to an opponent touchdown. Asked what he thinks the team needs to do to remedy those miscues, Hicks was direct in his response.
“It's really not what we think, it's what we're going to do,” Hicks said. “Thinking, that's a part of football that really doesn't matter. I think Coach can only do so much. I know we're a very close team, so we're going to do what we have to do this week to make sure that not only in the Missouri game, but here on out, that that doesn't happen anymore. It's just something that could have been prevented. It could have cost us the game.”
That seems to be the message that Richt is imparting to his club, as well. Georgia's errors in the kicking game are simply a quality-control issue, where a lack of attention to detail has allowed opponents to steal easy points.
A shaky snap might have cost Georgia the game in its lone loss. The Bulldogs are fortunate that their ensuing mistakes weren't so costly, but they know their luck will likely run out if they don't fix the problems -- and keep them fixed.
“Us as coaches, we've got to do a better job of simulating what's going to happen in the game and coaching and teaching properly where these guys can be more dependable,” Richt said. “So it's a two-way street. Coaches gotta coach better, for sure, and the players have got to take on their responsibilities and take care of business.
“That's the way it is in life, so we're learning the hard way, and just by the grace of God the two times we had blocked punts, we still won the game. But the margin for error is just getting slimmer and slimmer.”
The Georgia freshman had not touched the ball yet in his first college game -- he missed the opener against Clemson with an injury -- when running backs coach Bryan McClendon sent him in to spell Todd Gurley with the Bulldogs attempting to protect a 41-30 lead late in the fourth quarter against South Carolina. And all he did was break through a hole on his first career carry and flatten Gamecocks safety Brison Williams to pick up 17 yards right in front of his team's sideline, where his teammates celebrated like Douglas just scored a touchdown.
Gurley agreed: “That dude is a beast. If only you would have seen him in camp.”
Douglas generated considerable buzz during Georgia's August practices with his physical running style, but the injury before the Clemson game and the stakes in the following week's game against South Carolina -- stars Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 40 touches, 252 yards and three touchdowns – meant an opportunity had not arisen for Douglas to enter the pivotal SEC East game.
But with Marshall out of the game with a knee injury and Gurley needing a breather, Georgia's coaches turned to the freshman midway through what would become the game's final possession. The Bulldogs took over at their own 1 with 8:28 left, but hammered away at the Gamecocks' defensive front to drive 81 yards and use up all of the remaining time on the clock.
The lead hammer? Douglas, who took his first carry with 5:10 remaining and handled the ball on five of the game's final eight plays.
“If Keith was not hurt, he probably wouldn't have gotten that opportunity, but he got the opportunity and he took great advantage of it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Every time we've seen him scrimmage, we saw what you guys saw -- a really powerful runner who's got good ball security and some good vision. So like I've been saying, he's a very legitimate Southeastern Conference tailback in my opinion, and I think he's going to have a good career for us before it's all over.”
Even Douglas was surprised, however, when McClendon called his name for the first time.
“He called me over and I was a little surprised, I guess, but I was ready to go,” Douglas told his hometown Augusta Chronicle in the tunnel outside the locker room following the game.
UGA has not cleared Douglas to participate in media sessions since preseason practice, but his coaches and teammates are more than willing to praise his talents.
For instance, Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said last week that they already view Douglas as one of the team's top short-yardage backs.
“We feel confident in him running in those situations,” Bobo said. “He does a nice job. He's hard to tackle, low to the ground, good balance and has exhibited good ball security here in camp.”
He certainly proved that on his first career carry, when he lowered his shoulder to knock Williams to the ground before slamming into other South Carolina defenders near the Georgia bench.
Teammates like Corey Moore, Amarlo Herrera and Hutson Mason led the cheers from the sidelines as dozens of Bulldogs ran toward Douglas to celebrate the run that helped nail down an enormous win.
One of the first to reach him was tight end Arthur Lynch, who lifted Douglas into the air during the party and who expects that to be only the first of many such celebrations involving the freshman tailback.
“He was a guy that was about to go to Georgia Tech, so thank God we got him here,” Lynch said. “He's a hard-nosed kid, he's deceivingly fast, he holds the ball high and tight, which is really what you want out of a running back.
“He's got that attribute that Todd has: you can't bring him down with one guy alone and he has very good balance, so I think he's very good to have in our backfield.”
After three straight years of backbreaking blunders, key special-teams mistakes and offensive inefficiency, quarterback Aaron Murray -- who delivered perhaps the most impressive performance of his career -- and the Bulldogs gained redemption in the first big SEC East game of the season.
Twice in the last three years -- the other time it wasn't necessary as South Carolina won with a blowout -- the Gamecocks rode workhorse tailback Marcus Lattimore with run after pounding run in the fourth quarter, mounting long drives that used up the clock and secured huge division victories.
This time it was Georgia protecting a narrow lead when the Bulldogs took over at their own 1-yard line with 8:28 left on the clock. Thirteen plays -- including 12 runs -- and 81 yards later, South Carolina was out of time as the trio of Todd Gurley, Brendan Douglas and Quayvon Hicks teamed with a resurgent offensive line to pound South Carolina's defense into submission.
“When we got the ball on the half-yard line with eight minutes left, we knew that if we can control the clock, if we can keep the ball on the ground and just keep pushing it down their throat that we can win this game and close the door,” right guard Chris Burnette said. “That's the moments that you live for as an offensive lineman.”
Center David Andrews took it a step further, saying, “I think we made them quit tonight” in running 76 plays for 536 yards, including 53 for 227 on the ground.
In last season's 35-7 loss at South Carolina, Georgia's offense never got on track. Murray passed for a career-low 109 yards and a previously explosive offense delivered just four plays that covered at least 15 yards. The Bulldogs had four in the first quarter alone on Saturday, and finished the day with 11 that covered 15-plus -- none bigger than an 85-yard touchdown pass to Justin Scott-Wesley in the fourth quarter that gave the Bulldogs a 41-30 lead with 13 minutes to play.
Murray rolled left away from Jadeveon Clowney after his protection broke down and found a wide-open Scott-Wesley behind South Carolina's Ahmad Christian and T.J. Gurley down the left sideline. Once the UGA track sprinter -- and first-time starter at receiver -- hauled in Murray's pass, nobody was going to catch him.
“Murray got some pressure and I just stayed on the sideline uncovered and Murray got the ball out, great pass, and the rest is history,” said Scott-Wesley, who totaled 116 yards on three catches.
Clowney and South Carolina's defense seemed to intimidate Murray & Co. last season in Columbia, but that was far from the case on Saturday. Clowney, South Carolina's star defensive end, managed a sack and two tackles for a loss, but he was rarely a big factor for the Gamecocks.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Georgia averaged 8.3 yards per play in the 59 plays that Clowney was on the field, while the Bulldogs averaged 2.8 per play on the 17 downs where he was on the sideline.
Meanwhile, Murray was a nearly flawless 17-for-23 for 309 yards and four touchdowns -- and most importantly, no turnovers -- while facing a defense that had previously held him to the lowest career Total QBR (46.0) of any division opponent.
Gurley and his backfield mates certainly eased Murray's burden on Saturday. Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo lamented his abandoning the running game early in last season's loss when South Carolina built a big early lead. That would not be the case in the rematch, with Gurley and Keith Marshall accounting for 252 yards and three touchdowns after managing just 81 rushing yards on 25 combined carries against the Gamecocks last season.
“The line, man, they kept telling me this week, 'You need 25 or more,' ” said Gurley, who rushed for 132 yards on 30 carries and scored on both the ground and through the air. “I was ready to give them 25 and we came away with the victory.”
Georgia enters its first bye week of the season back on solid ground after an uneven performance last week at Clemson gave the Bulldogs their first loss of the season. They have two weeks until North Texas visits Athens, with SEC power LSU waiting the following week to complete a demanding September schedule.
The Bulldogs knew they couldn't afford to open the season 0-2 if they were to maintain reasonable hopes of contending for SEC and perhaps BCS championships. Thanks to the past failings against South Carolina that they exorcised on Saturday, they won't have to spend the next two weeks stewing over another lost opportunity.
“That's a hypothetical that I'm glad didn't happen. It would be tough,” Burnette admitted. “We're just excited by the fact that all our goals are still on the table. If we win the next game and the next game and the next game, we can make it to Pasadena.”
Let's take a look at five factors to watch in Saturday's game:
1. Clowney on the comeback: South Carolina's star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney took a heaping helping of criticism over his conditioning after failing to dominate against North Carolina last week. Gamecocks defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward predicted earlier in the week that we'll see “the real Clowney on Saturday” against Georgia, a team he has made some big plays against in his first two games against the Bulldogs.
What kind of impact does Clowney make on the typical game? Even in Clowney's somewhat disappointing performance last Thursday, North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner enjoyed much more success when Clowney was on the sideline. According to ESPN Stats and Information, he completed 52 percent of his passes when Clowney was in the game versus 75 percent when Clowney was out. He also had to throw much quicker when Clowney was in, with 12 of his 14 completions with Clowney in the game traveling 6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage or less -- and seven of them finding their target at or behind the line.
2. Murray under pressure: Georgia's offense thrives on big plays and long passes, but if the Bulldogs' offensive line can't shield its quarterback from the Gamecocks' talented pass rushers, performances like Murray's career-worst 109-yard effort against South Carolina last season become more of a possibility.
Murray's Total QBR is 46 against South Carolina -- including an 8.4 last year -- against which Georgia is 0-3 in his career. Georgia is 12-1 against all other SEC East opponents in Murray's three-plus seasons as the starter.
It will be interesting to see how Murray fares when South Carolina brings blitzes on Saturday. ESPN Stats and Information reports that Murray has zero touchdowns and two interceptions in 18 attempts when South Carolina has sent five or more pass-rushers on a play. Otherwise, he has four touchdowns and no interceptions in 63 pass attempts while facing four or fewer rushers.
3. Help from Harvey-Clemons: One of Georgia's best defensive players, Josh Harvey-Clemons, returns from a one-game suspension this week. That should provide an enormous lift for a defense that surrendered 467 yards to Tajh Boyd and Clemson a week ago.
Harvey-Clemons' ability at nickelback will allow him to rush Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw off the edge and spy against Shaw's underrated running ability. Shaw was dominant early against Georgia last season, completing 5 of 6 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for two first downs on the Gamecocks' first two drives alone.
4. Young linebackers versus Gurley: Although he missed portion of the game with a quad injury, Georgia's Todd Gurley still rushed for 154 yards (12.8 ypc) and two touchdowns against Clemson. He said the injury will not be an issue against South Carolina, setting up a key matchup to watch pitting Gurley, Keith Marshall and bruising fullback Quayvon Hicks against green South Carolina linebackers like sophomores Kaiwan Lewis and Marcquis Roberts and freshman Skai Moore.
Moore performed well against North Carolina, posting seven tackles and one TFL, but it's a lot to ask of a freshman to consistently bring down Georgia's All-SEC tailback, who is an enormous step up from any runner the Gamecocks faced in Week 1.
5. History in play: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier beat Georgia like a drum in his time as Florida's head coach, and he has recently resumed that mastery of the Bulldogs with the Gamecocks. South Carolina had never beaten Georgia three times in a row until last season's 35-7 win in Columbia -- with that 28-point margin of victory standing as South Carolina's biggest win ever against Georgia.
If South Carolina wins on Saturday, not only will it extend its historic success in a series that started in 1894, it will give Spurrier 16 wins against Georgia -- more than any opposing coach in history. Spurrier is 15-5 against Georgia overall and 4-4 at South Carolina.
Incidentally, only Florida State (9-5-1 against Spurrier teams), Auburn (8-10) and Tennessee (8-14) have beaten Spurrier more than Georgia in his Hall of Fame career. Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama and Clemson all have five wins against the Head Ball Coach.
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Although it’s easy to point to a botched field goal try as the difference in No. 5 Georgia’s 38-35 loss to No. 8 Clemson on Saturday, the Bulldogs know there was more to it than that.
“I thought we did some good things and we did some things to get you beat,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team has no time to lick its wounds with a game against No. 6 South Carolina on tap next Saturday. “We’ll find out how good we are next week.”
There were penalties from the Bulldogs on Saturday. One of the nation’s most-penalized teams over the last several years, Georgia had nine for 84 lost yards against Clemson -- including two costly infractions in the fourth quarter that short-circuited the Bulldogs’ comeback attempt.
There were two turnovers by quarterback Aaron Murray -- a fumble and an interception -- in the second quarter that took the wind out of the Georgia offense’s sails after accounting for 218 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone.
And there was a simple lack of execution at some crucial junctures that altered a game the Bulldogs certainly could have won.
“We did a lot of good things tonight, but there were a lot of things that we didn’t do so well -- some first-game mistakes and they ended up costing us there in the game,” said Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, whose team accumulated 545 yards of total offense, but surrendered four sacks and two turnovers. “But I just told the guys we ran out of time there at the end and it hurts, but we’ve got to look at the tape, we’ve got to correct and we’ve got to get better.”
The sequence that led to the botched field goal was particularly costly. Georgia earned first-and-goal at the Clemson 5 after a 35-yard completion to Chris Conley late in the third quarter. The Bulldogs then ran three straight running plays -- a 2-yard run by Keith Marshall, a 1-yard run by Todd Gurley and a third-down dive for no gain by Quayvon Hicks -- before settling for a 20-yard field goal try by Patrick Beless that would have tied the score at 31-all.
One problem: On his first field goal snap of the season, new snapper Nathan Theus shot the ball high to holder Adam Erickson, who was unable to corral the snap and was forced to fall on it for a 6-yard loss.
That was an enormous letdown after Georgia had battled its way back into the game and failed to gain the equalizer.
“Momentum is a big thing and that was huge momentum for us, a big boost for our guys,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “That turned out to be one of the deciding plays of the game, obviously.”
As were the plays that immediately preceded it, since they could have given Georgia its first lead since Hicks’ 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
“We had to get points in the red zone coming in and we wanted touchdowns and we weren’t able to do it right there,” Bobo said. “We ran the ball down there and I wanted to keep running it and I’ve got to look at the tape. We just didn’t execute what we had called and unfortunately we didn’t get the three points. That happens. We still had a chance to win after that, so we had our opportunities and just penalties killed us there on the next couple of drives.”
Even after the field goal mistake, Georgia’s defense forced a Clemson three-and-out, with a punt giving Georgia possession at its 43 early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldgos were quickly flagged for a devastating 15-yard penalty for chop blocking, however, and ended up punting.
Clemson scored on the next drive to go up 38-28 midway through the quarter, making a holding penalty that nullified a 14-yard Gurley run on the Dawgs’ ensuing drive even more costly, as another Georgia punt there nearly put the game out of reach.
The Bulldogs drove for a quick touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but when they failed to recover an onside kick and had already used all of their timeouts, Clemson was able to run out the clock and walk away victorious.
“We killed ourselves with penalties tonight,” Murray said. “It’s tough to convert third-and-long. Penalties are a big reason why we lost tonight.”
With the loss, Georgia finds itself in a fairly familiar position, which might have been why there seemed to be little panic within the Bulldog contingent during postgame interviews.
The Bulldogs dropped their first two games of 2011, including their SEC opener against South Carolina, and finished the regular season with a 10-game winning streak. They took a 35-7 pounding last season at South Carolina and once again won out.
Both times they earned a spot in the SEC championship game by claiming the Eastern Division title. And next Saturday will still play a major role in whether they can return to Atlanta for a third straight season, regardless of what happened against Clemson.
“I don’t see anybody in there ready to jump off a bridge or anything,” Richt said. “I think they all know that happens in football if you play a really good football team and you get beat. And if you do, then you move on and you continue to play well and you get better and you make corrections. We’re still learning a lot about this team.”
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Quayvon Hicks played little as a true freshman in 2012, but it wasn’t exactly for the typical reason that plagues a college football newcomer.
Hicks admits that his knowledge of Georgia’s playbook was adequate, but his confidence was lacking. The fullback believes that prevented him from playing with the physicality one might expect from a 270-pound player at his position.
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Newcomers: J.J. Green, Fr. (ESPN’s No. 58 CB in 2013 class. Enrolled in January); A.J. Turman, Fr. (No. 22 RB. Expected to enroll this summer); Brendan Douglas, Fr. (No. 4 FB. Expected to enroll this summer)
Cappy_88: Radi, give me a 2012 roster player (outside of Jordan Jenkins, Ray Drew, and Josh Harvey-Clemons) who you think will have a breakout year in 2013 and why?
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Although freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have replaced Malcome atop the tailback depth chart, the sophomore received the bulk of his carries on Georgia’s final drive in both games and largely delivered positive results.
Malcome ran five times for a team-high 45 yards on the Bulldogs’ final possession in a loss against South Carolina, scoring his team’s only touchdown on a 3-yard burst with 1:55 left in the game. And last week against Kentucky, six of Malcome’s seven total carries (for a total of 19 yards) came on the Bulldogs’ final drive, when they needed to burn time off the clock while clinging to a 29-24 lead.
“Usually at that time of the game, he’s usually a little bit fresher than the other two and he is a very good downhill runner,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “As you observe him, he’s usually always getting yards after contact and even when nothing’s there, he seems to be pushing the pile and finishing runs and he’s done a good job of securing the football. Those are things that you want at that time of the game.”
That’s the role Richard Samuel played on the Bulldogs’ game-winning drive last season against Florida -- Georgia’s opponent on Saturday -- but Richt does not predict Samuel taking carries away from Malcome or one of the freshmen in Saturday’s rematch.
“At the tailback position, I don’t know,” Richt said. “We’ve got our rotation right now and I doubt it would change much, although Richard’s always ready to play at the tailback or the fullback for that matter.”
his injured All-American “big brother” in Georgia’s starting lineup against Florida Atlantic.
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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
TBD Temple Vanderbilt TBD Texas A&M South Carolina 8:00 PM ET Boise State Ole Miss
TBD Arkansas Auburn TBD Idaho Florida TBD Clemson Georgia TBD Tennessee-Martin Kentucky TBD South Dakota State Missouri TBD Southern Miss Mississippi State 3:30 PM ET West Virginia Alabama 9:00 PM ET LSU Wisconsin