November 26, 2011

Offense makes adjustments

ATLANTA - Head coach Mark Richt summed it up rather succinctly - when quarterback Aaron Murray's on, Georgia's offense is "pretty good."

Take Saturday's 31-17 win over Georgia Tech.

For the fourth time this year, the redshirt sophomore tossed four touchdown passes, two in each half, as the Bulldogs rolled to their 10th straight win after last week's sub-par performance against Kentucky.

There was nothing sup-par about Saturday's showing, which saw Murray complete 19 of 29 passes for 252 yards, 193 of which came in the first half.

"Early on we were getting guys open, and I said if we'd just protect this game I thought we were going to have a big day throwing and catching," Richt said. "Mike (offensive coordinator Mike Bobo) dialed up some beauties, and when you protect, throw accurately and catch it when it's there, good things are going to happen. (Bobo) had a good plan."

Four different receivers - Aron White, Tavarres King, Michael Bennett and Chris Conley - caught touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Murray's four touchdown passes give him 32 for the year, including 14 in his last four games.

"Murray cooled off a little in the second half and if he had hit his targets, we would have had another touchdown, maybe two," Richt said. "But nobody's perfect. He was probably as good the first half as he was against Auburn. When Murray's on fire like that, we're pretty good."

The 13th-ranked Bulldogs (10-2) needed a solid game for their quarterback against the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia had hoped to have freshman Isaiah Crowell for the game after injuring his ankle against Kentucky, but Richt said after the game it soon became apparent that the former Carver star was not quite ready to play.

Richt said he expects Crowell to be ready for next week's SEC title game against LSU.

If not, Bobo and the offense will have to rely on redshirt freshman Ken Malcome, who rushed for a team-high 39 yards on 12 carries. Thirty-eight of Malcome's total came during a Bulldog possession late in the fourth quarter when he carried the football on nine consecutive plays.

"Ken had a good week of practice, which always helps; his practice and performance in this game helped his cause for playing more," Bobo said. "He's got an opportunity now, now it's up to him to step up and take advantage of the opportunity."

Georgia finished with 128 rushing yards, but it didn't start out so well as tailbacks accounted for just 11 yards in the first half.

"We wanted to run the power, we wanted to run the zone, but quite frankly we did not run as good as I had hoped," Richt said. "Once we went two tights and said we were going to run it every down, we picked up a couple of first downs, which was good for us and good for Kenny (Malcome). We felt he was the best guy for that, his running style was more physical than any we had available."

Junior cornerback Branden Smith saw his most offensive action of the year, carrying five times for 20 yards, although he was in the game much more than that.
"I found out Monday that I was going to get most of my time on offense," said Smith, who did see a single defensive snap. "I just had to get my mind right to play offense, wide receiver, whatever they need me to do. I was going to be ready, no matter what. I was going to be ready to play my role."

Bobo had hoped to get Smith more touches than that.

"I wanted to try to get it to him like 15 times, he probably ended up with five but he was in there on a lot of the pass stuff which helped open up the coverage when he was in there," Bobo said. "We felt we were short at running back, and he came over and helped us for a number of periods all week, probably one-third of the practice. He looked good."