October 16, 2010

Dawgs slam the Dores

Although it's certainly too early to declare Georgia's early-season issues yesterday's news, Saturday's 43-0 rout of visiting Vanderbilt at least offers a sense that better days could in fact lie ahead.

Of course, time will tell.

Nobody is going to confuse the Commodores with the elite of college football. But considering all the problems Georgia's had getting to this stage in the 2010 campaign, head coach Mark Richt wasn't about to dismiss his team's largest margin of victory since last year's 38-0 win over Tennessee Tech as anything but a quality win.

"The first thing I'll say is that a shutout at any level isn't easy to do, so I'm not only proud of our defensive coaches and players but the entire team," Richt said. "It looks like we're getting better. It looks like we're playing with a little more passion and it looks like we're building some on the momentum, which is good."

Statistically, there were a lot of happy players following the Bulldogs' largest Homecoming victory since a 58-3 win over Tulane in 1985.

Quarterback Aaron Murray was suburb, completing 15-of-24 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Washaun Ealey posted his first 100-yard effort of the year carrying 17 times for 129 yards and one touchdown.

It was a game sophomore Carlton Thomas won't soon forget.

Thomas, who sat out last week with a sore hamstring, only carried the football four times for 40 yards but scored his first career touchdowns on runs of 15 and 9 yards.

Senior wide receiver Kris Durham enjoyed a career afternoon. The Calhoun native caught four passes for 115 yards and one score, while A.J. Green only caught three balls but one went for a 48-yard touchdown during the opening series of the third quarter.

All total, Georgia amassed 547 yards of total offense.

"Besides the win, I think the biggest number for us was getting over 200 yards rushing," offensive lineman Clint Boling said of the Bulldogs, who rushed for 232 yards on 47 attempts. "I thought this was probably our best game blocking. We did a great job protecting the quarterback, didn't give up any sacks. Washaun and Carlton ran the ball hard. It was just a big win all the way around."

Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell has certainly seen better days.

When asked by a reporter if Saturday's shutout qualified as embarrassing, Caldwell turned the tables.

"Always," he said. "Don't you get embarrassed when you get shutout - whether it's horse shoes, ping pong or whatever? This was a well-executed game-plan gone awry. We got whipped in every phase of the game."

There was not much disputing that.

Offensively, Vanderbilt (2-4, 1-2) managed just 140 total yards on 47 plays and only picked up eight first downs as the Commodores only converted 1 of 11 third downs.

"It can't get any worse that today," Vandy quarterback Larry Smith said. "We just have to move forward."

Georgia (3-4, 2-3) meanwhile, would be hard-pressed to play better.

Richt's squad led 22-0 at the half despite about a disjointed a beginning as the Bulldogs have had all year.

The game was just 5:16 old when the Bulldogs blew through their third and final timeout of the half, well before Georgia managed its first points, a 32-yard field by Blair Walsh with 7:41 to go in the first.

On Vandy's next possession, Georgia's defense nearly scored a touchdown when linebacker Christian Robinson picked up what looked to be a fumbled reception before returning the football 19 yards for an apparent score.

However, after a review, the pass was ruled incomplete allowing the Commodores to keep the ball.

For the next nine-plus minutes, neither team was able to establish much offense until Ealey reversed his field and ran 55 yards to the Vandy 15. On the next play, Thomas took the hand-off and received a convoy-like escort around the left side to score the touchdown, the first of the sophomore's career.

Momentum was about to shift toward Georgia's side even more.

On Vanderbilt's first play of the following series, a bad snap sailed toward the back of the end zone. For a moment, Brandon Boykin appeared to cover the ball for a touchdown, but the replay showed that the Bulldog cornerback was out of bounds resulting in a safety.

A 5-yard pass from Murray to Durham and a 25-fielld goal by Walsh sent Georgia into the lockerroom with a 22-0 lead.

The rout was on.

Georgia outscored the Commodores (2-4, 1-2) 21-0 in the third, getting touchdowns of 48 yards on a pass from Murray to Green, a 9-yard run by Thomas and a 1-yard run by Ealey at the 3:22 mark to account for what would be the final 43-0 score.

The Bulldogs emptied their bench for the fourth quarter, inserting backup quarterback Hutson Mason who completed all four of his passes for 28 yards.

"This was a great game by the offense and defense," Murray said. "It was the first real full game of the year. The defense did a great job of getting off of the field and getting the offense the ball with great field position."

Georgia returns to action next Saturday when the Bulldogs travel to Kentucky. Gametime is set for 7:30 p.m.

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