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DAWGTIME’s Halftime Tidbits

GEORGIA 24, South Carolina 13

OFFENSE

  • With Georgia scoring only a field goal in the first quarter, the Bulldogs’ streak of scoring a touchdown in 14 consecutive quarters dating back to last season ended.
  • After completing 0 of 5 passes in the first half against Vanderbilt a week ago, Greyson Lambert was nearly perfect in the first half tonight, completing 14 of 15 passes for 190 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions.
  • With his 2-yard scoring run early in the second quarter, Nick Chubb has scored 16 touchdowns in his 11 starts as a Bulldog, which is the same number of touchdowns Herschel Walker scored in his first 11 starts at Georgia from 1980-1981.

DEFENSE

  • After allowing an average of 37 points to the Gamecocks their last four meetings (2011-2014), the Bulldogs limited South Carolina to 13 points in the first half.
  • Georgia’s defense limited the ‘Cocks to 150 total yards in the first half, while the Bulldogs’ offense gained 323.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • After just 28 percent of Georgia’s kickoffs went for touchbacks in 2013 and 2014 combined (52 of 185), 53 percent (9 of 17) have been touchbacks thus far this season in 2½ games.
  • The Bulldogs uncharacteristically had an opponent have success on kickoff returns, allowing the Gamecocks 106 yards on three returns in the first half.

Special-Teams Snafu vs. Commodores Could’ve Been Costly

Coach John Lilly accepts full blame for Georgia's third misplayed pooch kickoff the last seven games.

ATHENS, Ga.—Two seasons ago, Georgia’s overall special teams play was near inept; however, the Bulldogs’ not-so-special unit nearly did a complete turnaround in 2014, particularly on their kickoff/punt offensive and defensive units. Yet, at Vanderbilt last Saturday, Georgia committed a familiar special-teams snafu which transformed what had seemed like a comfortable victory to an instant nail-biter.

After the Commodores cut their 24-6 deficit to 10 points with 4:33 remaining, they elected to attempt an onside kick against Georgia’s “hands team.” However, instead of the ball getting kicked short towards the team, it was looped over their heads, bouncing to the left of returner Reggie Davis, who was situated at his 25-yard line. Davis had little chance of gathering the ball, which Vanderbilt recovered inside Georgia’s 20-yard line.

Notably, for the Bulldogs dating back to last season, it was the third opposing pooch kickoff they’ve misplayed in their last seven games.

“If everybody did what they’re supposed to do [on the kickoff], there would have been a lot more time [for Davis to field the kick], and for him to get on it safely with a lot less drama,” head coach Mark Richt said following the Vanderbilt game. “But, it was absolutely one of the things that could have cost us.”

Before special teams play would continue to cost the Bulldogs games in 2014, Richt attempted to improve the overall unit by having it coordinated by two assistants: John Lilly (offense) and Mike Ekeler (defense). And, ever since then, the new system has helped to vastly improve the kickoff/punt units—for the most part.

For kick coverage: After allowing a combined three touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns in 2013, and a combined eight from 2011 through 2013, the Bulldogs since have yielded kickoff and punt return averages of only 19.2 and 4.4, respectively, and, what’s more, no touchdowns.

For kickoff/punt returns: After averaging a lowly 2.9 yards per punt return in 2013—the all-time program low—Georgia has averaged 12.2 yards per return ever since. A 18.6 yards per kickoff return average two seasons ago has improved by nearly two yards to 20.5. And, after returning no kicks for touchdowns in 2013, the Bulldogs have toted five back for scores (three punt returns, two kickoff returns) in the 15 games since, including four by sophomore Isaiah McKenzie (three punt returns, one kickoff return). Coming on a punt return, McKenzie’s fourth return for a touchdown was the first score of Georgia’s 31-14 win Saturday at Vanderbilt.

But, as indicated, when it comes to fielding pooch kickoffs, the Bulldogs’ recent opposition has found a way to retain possession, and deep in Georgia territory. At Kentucky last year, Georgia’s Quayvon Hicks fumbled a pooch kickoff, which was recovered by the Wildcats at the Bulldogs’ 23-yard line. Just three games later against Georgia Tech, a Yellow Jacket kick simply wasn’t fielded and was recovered at Georgia’s 27-yard line. And, finally, there was the recent muffed pooch kickoff at Vanderbilt. All three kickoffs were kicked to the right side of the field, descending between the Bulldogs’ 25 and 30-yard lines.

Coach Lilly, who is in charge of the kickoff return team, said that the scenario which unfolded against the Commodores was, first of all, “the worst time to have a kickoff return.” There were more than four minutes remaining, and Vanderbilt had two timeouts left; therefore, it wasn’t even a certainty they’d attempt an onside kick to begin with. Secondly, even if speculated correctly that an onside kick is coming, there are a number of type of kicks, and their lengths, which could result. Regardless, Lilly takes full blame for the misplayed pooch kick.

“That was my fault,” Lilly declared. “If things don’t happen right [on kickoff returns], I’m going to be the one…who says, ‘what have I said, or not said, done, or not done, that made it happen the way that it did?’”

Following the game, Richt claimed he was going to spend some time to “see what everyone else does in the country” if they think it’s obvious, or at least the good possibility of an onside kick being attempted. By Tuesday, he had concluded “most everybody lines up just the way we did.”

“So, we’ve got to learn to anticipate better…to learn to teach our return men to read [the kicker] a little bit better and get a jump on it, so to speak,” Richt added. “Alignment was a little bit of an issue that we didn’t align just quite the way we should have. But yeah, we looked around a good bit and we feel like it was more of an execution issue.”

And, as for the man who is mostly responsible for the players’ execution on kickoff returns, a valuable lesson was learned in Nashville.

“We had more than one guy not do the right thing which, to me, is on me,” Lilly said. “I’m glad it’s a lesson we learned in a game…that didn’t cost us a victory.”

Although by 17, Dogs “Escape” Nashville with Win

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Don’t let the 31-14 final score fool you. Tenth-ranked Georgia’s 17-point win over Vanderbilt today was far from comfortable as the score might appear. Instead, for the fourth time in their last five trips to Nashville, the Bulldogs were tested by the Commodores, while somewhat fortunate to post a victory this afternoon.

“We did enough good things to be proud of, but enough bad things that could’ve gotten us beat,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said following the game. “We’re thankful for the victory. … We’ve got things that need to be cleaned up.”

After an exchange of punts to begin the game, Georgia placekicker Marshall Morgan’s 37-yard field goal attempt was shanked wide left, squandering a 68-yard run by sophomore sensation Nick Chubb. Chubb finished the game with 189 yards on 19 carries, but was kept out of the end zone for the first time since the third game of last season against Troy.

After the Morgan miss, the Bulldogs’ defense forced a Vanderbilt punt, which sophomore Isaiah McKenzie toted back 77 yards for a touchdown, and the game’s initial points. For McKenzie, it was remarkably his fourth kick return for a touchdown (three- punt, one- kickoff) for his mere 14-game career at Georgia.

The Commodores answered with a 47-yard field goal by Tommy Openshaw. But, soon thereafter, the Bulldogs capped a 64-yard drive—all yards gained rushing—with a 31-yard touchdown run by sophomore Sony Michel. Michel finished the contest with 56 yards on 12 carries, and also made two receptions.

Vanderbilt answered with another Openshaw field goal, and had the opportunity to cut its deficit to five points, but a third Openshaw attempt just before halftime hit an upright, and Georgia led 14-6 at the half.

After missing on all five of his pass attempts during the first half, Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert was a respectable 11-of-16 passing for 116 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half. “The run game kept us in it [early], and our defense played a heck of a ballgame, which allowed us to find that rhythm a little bit late,” Lambert said.

Following an interception by Georgia’s Reggie Wilkerson, Lambert drove the offense to a field goal. And, after a Vanderbilt punt, the quarterback capped an 8-play, 66-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run of his own, giving the Bulldogs what seemed like a rather comfortable 24-6 advantage late in the third quarter.

With 9:25 remaining in the game, Marshall missed a 43-yard field goal. It was curiously his seventh missed field goal in his last 21 attempts (dating back to last season) after making an SEC record 20 field goals in a row.

Still leading by 18 points, the Bulldogs dodged a bullet when Vanderbilt turned the ball over on downs on Georgia’s 4-yard line after driving 71 yards. However, after the Bulldogs couldn’t move the ball and Vanderbilt benefitted from a poor punt, Commodore quarterback Johnny McCrary passed for a touchdown and then ran for a two-point conversion, cutting Georgia’s lead to 24-14. For the game, McCrary completed 24 of 50 passes for 295 yards, but threw three interceptions, was sacked three times, and was often under pressure.

The pressure was squarely on the Bulldogs when Reggie Davis didn’t properly field the ensuing pooch kickoff, losing a fumble recovered by Vanderbilt on Georgia’s 8-yard line. For the Bulldogs, it was their third muffed return on an opposing pooch kickoff in just their last seven games dating back to 2014.

“If everybody did what they’re supposed to do [on the kickoff], there would have been a lot more time [for Davis to field the kick], and for him to get on it safely with a lot less drama,” Richt said. “But, it was absolutely one of the things that could have cost us.”

Two plays following the misplayed kickoff, linebacker Jake Ganus intercepted a McCrary pass in the end zone. However, Georgia would soon have to give the ball up, and, again, Vanderbilt drove down the field and threatened to score until committing a turnover. This time, safety Dominick Sanders snared a Commodore pass and raced 88 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 31-14 lead with just over a minute remaining.

“It was a couple of mistakes being made,” Sanders said in regards to Georgia allowing Vanderbilt to suddenly move the ball in the final minutes. “But, we kept our head in the game, and we kept playing hard.”

There was no quit in the Commodores as they drove down the field again in the final minute before, once again, Georgia’s defense rose up and stopped their host on their 4-yard line on the game’s final play.

“I definitely feel the effects of that game,” senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins said afterwards. Jenkins led an overall commendable effort by Georgia’s defense with 11 tackles, including 5½ for loss, and two sacks. “My body is sore…my body is tired. … Every time I come here (at Vanderbilt), there’s always some stuff that goes wrong. There are some bad things that happen, and things don’t always go our way.”

Like most any recent trip to Vanderbilt for the Dogs, plenty of things went wrong today, or didn’t exactly go Georgia’s way. However, at the end of a game that was an unforeseen nail biter at times, most importantly, the Bulldogs found a way to avoid getting beat.

DAWGTIME’s Halftime Tidbits

GEORGIA 14, Vanderbilt 6 at the Half

OFFENSE

  • Nick Chubb’s 68-yard run on the first play of Georgia’s second offensive possession is the third longest of his Bulldog career. Chubb had a 83-yard run last season vs. Charleston So. and a 82-yarder against Louisville in last year’s Belk Bowl.
  • After having one of the most efficient passing performances last week by a first-time Georgia starter in history, Greyson Lambert was 0-for-5 passing in the first half.
  • With touchdowns in each of the first two quarters, Georgia has now scored a touchdown in 12 consecutive quarters dating back to last season. The last time the Bulldogs were held out of the end zone for a quarter was the second quarter of last season’s Georgia Tech game.

DEFENSE

  • Lorenzo Carter was thrown out of the game early in the contest for targeting, marking the third time a Georgia defender was called for targeting at Vanderbilt in a stretch of less than five quarters of play (including 2013 game).
  • Despite the Commodores running 50 plays in the first half while possessing the ball for 22:36, Georgia’s defense had limited the Vandy offense to 6 points and 159 total yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • After not kicking off a single time a year ago, and just 4 of his 15 kickoffs went for touchbacks in 2013, punter Collin Barber has had 5 of his 10 kickoffs thus far this season go for touchbacks.
  • After establishing a new career SEC record roughly a year for 20 consecutive field goals made, placekicker Marshall Morgan has missed 6 of his last 19 field-goal attempts.
  • Isaiah McKenzie’s first-quarter punt return for a touchdown was his fourth kick return for a score (3- punt, 1- kickoff) for his short, 14-game Georgia career.

Efficient Lambert Remains Modest, Just Wants to Win

ATHENS, Ga.—Georgia’s Greyson Lambert is distinguished by several characteristics; namely, he is simply the team’s starting quarterback—a decision which was based solely on his performance during fall camp, beating out competition which had each been part of the program for at least two years. In addition, physically, he is tall—in fact, at 6-foot-5, he’s the tallest Bulldog quarterback ever to see playing time.

Speaking to the media this week after a near-flawless passing performance against Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), and prior to Georgia’s next game at Vanderbilt, Lambert also exhibited, perhaps above all, he is a team player.

When asked what the offense could improve upon from its outing last Saturday, Lambert pointed to Georgia’s first offensive possession of the second half after the Warhawks, who had trailed 35-0 late in the second quarter, scored consecutive touchdowns to cut their deficit to 21 points. On a drive that was “largely my fault,” according to Lambert, the Bulldogs moved the ball just 12 yards in five plays before being forced to punt.

As far as what Lambert was pleased with regarding the offense, there was no mention of his 8-of-12 passing performance for 141 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, but rather the teammates that surrounded him, and the quarterback who backs him up.

“The offensive line opened up holes, and protected me and Brice,” replied Lambert, mentioning No. 2 quarterback Brice Ramsey, who played for one offensive series. “The receivers made plays when their number was called. … Our stable of running backs are amazing—all of them—all four, five, six, seven, or eight of them,” he humorously overstated, indicating Georgia’s tremendous depth at the position.

Lambert was asked if he had any desire to pass much more—really open the Bulldogs’ passing game up—than the mere dozen passes he attempted last week. The graduate from Virginia, who attempted an average of more than 35 passes during a four-game stretch last season for the Cavaliers, answered, “As long as we get a win, I don’t care how we do it.”

Although being somewhat limited in the number of passes he threw against ULM, from an efficiency standout, Lambert excelled. Notably, of the 52 Bulldog quarterbacks who started at least one game since the program implemented a modernized, drop-back quarterback passing attack in 1945, Lambert’s 220.37 passing efficiency rating is the fourth-best resulting in a first start at Georgia.

The top 10 passer ratings by a UGA quarterback in their first start (completions-attempts-yards-TDs-interceptions), followed by Georgia’s game result:

  • 260.25- Quincy Carter, ’98 Kent St. (12-16-235-3-0), Won 56-3
  • 236.57- D.J. Shockley, ’05 Boise St. (16-24-289-5-0), Won 48-13
  • 233.08- David Dukes, ’84 Vandy (9-13-175-2-0), Won 62-35
  • 220.37- Greyson Lambert, ’15 ULM (8-12-141-2-0), Won 51-14
  • 204.97- Buck Belue, ’79 Ole Miss (8-12-119-2-0), Won 24-21
  • 185.77- Dicky Clark, ’74 Oregon St. (5-7-56-1-0), Won 48-35
  • 177.72- David Greene, ’01 Arkansas St. (21-29-285-2-0), Won 45-17
  • 170.53- Cory Phillips, ’00 Kentucky (20-38-400-4-1), Won 34-30
  • 170.27- Zeke Bratkowski, ’51 G. Washington (4-6-74-0-0), Won 33-0
  • 152.14- Mike Bobo, ’95 S. Carolina (15-28-250-2-0), Won 42-23

Still, Lambert realizes it’s going to be rather difficult to be as efficient at Vanderbilt.

The Commodores’ second-year head coach, Derek Mason, is in his first season as also the team’s defensive coordinator. As of the middle of this week, Lambert mentioned he had studied “five or six” of Vanderbilt’s games from a year ago, along with their season opener last week—a 14-12 loss to Western Kentucky—and the quarterback revealed the Commodores apply pressure to the passer on first and second down about 15 percent more than they did in 2014.

Also defensively, Vanderbilt returns all 11 starters from a year ago, and an experienced secondary which remarkably returns six defensive backs who started at least four games last season. The Commodores might have lost their first game, but their defense shined against a Western Kentucky offense which ranked fourth in the country in 2014 in total offense (534.6 yards per game). The Hilltoppers, which returned most of their offensive fire power from last season, were limited last week to 247 total yards, forced to punt 10 times, and just 2 of 11 converting on third down.

Faced with stiffer competition than a week ago, and on the road, Lambert said the offense would perhaps “try silent cadences” at Vanderbilt, but it was going to have the same mindset as it did against ULM. “We’re just worried about Georgia, and playing our game,” he added.

Finally, Lambert was asked what he did best as Georgia’s starting quarterback and, again, and not surprisingly, he spoke more of the talent around him.

“When you got guys [on offense] like we have, my goal is just getting them in the best play possible, and get the ball in their hands,” Lambert said. “…just helping the team win in any way possible.”

Lambert is not only efficient on the field, but evidently eloquent with his words off of it. The day after the quarterback was interviewed, head coach Mark Richt mentioned he had heard Lambert’s exchange with the media, admiring his “team-player” mindset.

“I thought he was right on with the responsibility he has at quarterback: to help the team get into the end zone,” Richt said of Lambert. “And, not really worry about how we get it done… Let’s just get it done.”

No matter how, or how efficient, Richt and his new starting quarterback, the modest Lambert, will look to “just get it done” for the second time in as many tries this Saturday in Nashville.

Lightning Delay Seemingly Sparked Declining Dog Defense

According to No. 35 Aaron Davis, Georgia's defense, "no matter what," always has things it can work on.

ATHENS, Ga.—Looking back on the Bulldogs’ defensive performance Saturday against Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), quite an oddity transpired during the 51-14 victory—the likes of which Georgia defenders would like to eliminate in the future.

While averaging less than three yards per play, the Warhawks’ first seven offensive possessions resulted in no points. Such was the case (no points, less than three yards per play) for their final three possessions of the game, which promptly followed the first lightning delay. However, sandwiched between those two stretches, ULM exhibited a potent offensive attack, throwing the Bulldogs back on their heels.

“Those two minutes, when they drove down and scored,” said sophomore Aaron Davis, referring to the Warhawks’ 8-play (seven passes, once sacked), 75-yard touchdown drive just before halftime when trailing 35-0, “that’s something we definitely have to tighten up in practice.” Starting at one of the cornerback positions, Davis totaled three tackles in the game, while intercepting a first-quarter pass—the only turnover forced the entire contest.

Down 35-7, ULM opened the second half very similarly to how it closed the first, driving 74 yards in seven plays—all passes—to a touchdown.

“I think overall we did a good job [defensively], but those two drives, there were just little errors [we made]—tiny things that made those drives last, and we wound up giving up touchdowns,” said senior Jake Ganus, who started at Mike linebacker and made three tackles. “We just have to cut those [errors] out, and we’ll be fine.”

Last season, only twice did Georgia’s defense allow an opponent to drive 70-plus yards to a touchdown on consecutive possessions: on the road at Arkansas and Kentucky. Of course, the Razorbacks and Wildcats a year ago possessed rather reputable SEC offenses, and scored three and two, respectively, touchdowns against the Bulldogs beyond the back-to-back scores.

But, last Saturday, and perhaps aided by the 61-minute lightning delay beginning after just 6:25 had elapsed following halftime, the Bulldogs blanked the Warhawks until the second delay ultimately ended the game with 9:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“We just knew, as a team, we must improve and go back out there [following the first delay] with the same spark we came out with [at the beginning of the game],” sophomore Malkom Parrish said. Parrish, who started opposite of Davis at cornerback, recorded six tackles, including one for loss. “So, as a team, we felt that way, and we accomplished that.”

Although Georgia’s defense faltered leading into halftime, and immediately afterwards, the question arises if the second break for the Bulldogs—the first weather delay—was beneficial.

“Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt got to make some really good corrections [during the lightning delay], and we got to go over some stuff,” Ganus said of the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator. “Of course, it’s good any time you have extra time to prepare.”

Of course, Ganus agreed there may not be another game this season when Georgia’s defense benefits from “extra time.”  And, even if so, and no matter how few touchdowns the Bulldogs yield and when exactly during games they are allowed, according to Davis, “we always have things we can work on no matter what…”

Dogs Prepare to Visit ‘Dores

For Immediate Release
UGA Sports Communications
Monday, Sept. 7, 2015
 
ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia football team began preparations for its first road and Southeastern Conference game on Monday with a 90-minute workout on the Woodruff Practice Fields.
 
The Bulldogs (1-0) will visit Vanderbilt (0-1) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally by CBS.
 
The Bulldogs logged a full Labor Day on Monday by lifting weights, holding meetings and going through the practice.
 
“I thought we got in some good work today,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “We got our week off to a great start. We’re stressing getting better on a daily basis, knowing what to do and how to do it with great effort. I’m happy with our scouts. They’re getting better and they’re understanding how important their jobs are. We just need to keep it going the rest of the week.”
 
Richt announced the captains for the Vanderbilt game will be tackle John Theus and receiver Malcolm Mitchell on offense, linebacker Jordan Jenkins on defense, and receiver Reggie Davis on special teams.
 
Georgia is coming off a 51-14 victory over ULM, while Vanderbilt dropped a 14-12 decision to Western Kentucky.
 
Georgia owns a 54-19-2 all-time record against the Commodores and has won 18 of the last 20 meetings between the two teams.

Amidst Lightning Striking Twice, Dogs Wear Down Warhawks, 51-14

Against ULM in Georgia's shortened season opener, Nick Chubb led a stable of backs in a 51-14 victory for the Bulldogs.

ATHENS, Ga.—Georgia opened its 2015 campaign with a relatively easy 51-14 victory over Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) despite weather that was rather difficult to deal with.

Two lightning delays halted play this afternoon at Sanford Stadium: the first coming nearly midway through the third quarter, lasting an entire hour, the second with 9:54 remaining in the game, halting play altogether.

“We had one delay, then another, and it could’ve gone all day and night,” said head coach Mark Richt following the game, “so it was in the best interest of everyone to terminate it when we did.”

At the beginning, it appeared the game that eventually would be terminated would be absolutely dominated by the ninth-ranked Bulldogs.

After having not blocked a punt for two entire seasons, Georgia blocked a Warhawk boot on their first possession. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter’s blocked kick led to a 14-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb just two plays later. Just two plays after that—an interception thrown by ULM quarterback Garrett Smith, followed by a 15-yard scoring pass from Bulldog quarterback Greyson Lambert to tight end Jeb Blazevich—Georgia led 14-0 just 4:35 into the game.

In the second quarter, the Bulldogs scored three touchdowns on consecutive offensive possessions, including a second run by Chubb from 23 yards out, and a 31-yard touchdown pass from reserve quarterback Brice Ramsey to Sony Michel.

For Ramsey, who appeared to be the odds-on favorite to win Georgia’s publicized quarterback battle only a week ago, it would be his lone possession directing the team of the Bulldogs’ 12 offensive drives. Third-string signal caller Faton Bauta did not play. Ramsey completed both of his pass attempts for 51 yards, including the touchdown to Michel. Michel caught another pass covering 48 yards, and gained 41 more yards on six rushes.

Despite carrying the ball just 16 times, Chubb was spectacular, rushing for 120 yards and the two scores. Notably, since starting at tailback for the Bulldogs beginning in mid-October of last season, Chubb has rushed for 100-plus yards for nine consecutive games.

Trailing 35-0 late in the second quarter and having gained just 59 total offensive yards on 25 plays, ULM’s offense suddenly caught fire. Smith led the Warhawks on a 75-yard, 8-play touchdown drive just before halftime, and then 74 yards on 7 plays for a score early in third quarter. Both touchdowns were Smith passes to Rashon Ceasar.

The Smith-to-Ceasar passing combination proved to be more than a handful for the Georgia secondary to handle.  Smith finished the game 23-of-29 passing for 206 yards. Ceasar, whose 13 catches tied the mark for the second-most receptions ever made by an individual against a Bulldog team, had 153 receiving yards.

The first lighting delay seemed to electrify Georgia on both sides of the ball. After the Bulldogs stopped the surging Warhawk offense on third down, true freshman D’Andre Walker blocked a punt which went out of the end zone, handing Georgia a safety and a 37-14 lead.

After the safety, the Bulldogs quickly drove 58 yards capped by a 28-yard touchdown pass from Lambert to Malcolm Mitchell. Lambert finished with 141 passing yards on 8-of-12 passing, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. In addition, the graduate transfer from Virginia seemed confident and poised while directing his new team.

“It was a lot of fun just to get back out on the football field,” Lambert said after the game, “but it was more fun to get on the field playing with all these guys on my new team.”

Just before the second lightning warning, Lambert engineered Georgia’s second scoring drive of the contest covering more than 90 yards. After 13 plays, Keith Marshall scored from two yards out with 10:58 remaining. For Marshall, who was second on the team with 73 rushing yards on 10 carries, it was his first two-touchdown game since his freshman year in 2012.

At the end of the game, Chubb avoided discussing personal accolades, but praised the play of the position group he is a part of, including Marshall, Michel, and Brendan Douglas—a quartet of backs who were on pace to rush for a combined 300 yards before lightning struck again.

“I think we all did great,” Chubb said regarding how the running backs performed. “We all did what we had to do. We all took advantage of the opportunities we had and had a great day today.”

DAWGTIME’s Halftime Tidbits–ULM

Georgia 35, Louisiana at Monroe 7

OFFENSE

  • Of Georgia’s 9 offensive possessions in the first half, GREYSON LAMBERT was the Bulldogs’ quarterback for eight of them, Brice Ramsey for one.
  • SONY MICHEL had 79 receiving yards in the first half alone after gaining 106 in receiving for the entire 2014 season.
  • Georgia’s 96-yard drive in 8 plays for a touchdown in the second quarter ranks as the 12th (tied) longest (in terms of yards) in UGA football history.

DEFENSE

  • Somewhat of a surprise, JAKE GANUS and LEONARD FLOYD started the game at the two inside linebacker positions.
  • After making less than three sacks in seven of their 13 games a year ago, the Bulldogs tallied three sacks in the first half alone.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • After Georgia did not block a punt the entire 2014 season, LEONARD FLOYD blocked one on ULM’s opening possession.

Bulldogs to Treat “Giant Killers” Like Any Other Foe

ATHENS, Ga.—One would believe it’s unimaginable for a top-10 team from the Southeastern Conference, playing at home as more than a 30-point favorite—as is the case with Georgia this Saturday—to lose to Louisiana Monroe (ULM) of the lower-tiered Sun Belt Conference.

On the contrary, it’s certainly fathomable, just ask the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Just three seasons ago in Little Rock, Ark., the eighth-ranked Hogs were defeated 34-31 by ULM as 31-point favorites. The upset victory by the Warhawks came less than five years removed from when they toppled Alabama 21-14 in Tuscaloosa as nearly four-touchdown underdogs.

Yet, ULM’s ability to play with, or even conquer, the “big boys” did not end at Arkansas. Within the next 13 days after the epic upset to open their 2012 season, the Warhawks lost to Auburn on the road by only a field goal in overtime, followed by a 47-42 setback to high-powered Baylor. In addition and on a winning note, ULM faced Wake Forest in 2013 and 2014, and was a perfect 2 and 0.

“Last year, [ULM was] 4-8 (record), but when you look at the games…they lost five games by seven points or less,” head coach Mark Richt said earlier this week. “They could have easily been a nine-win team a year ago.”

The second of ULM’s five close calls last season which resulted in defeat was as a five-touchdown underdog at Texas A&M. In their 21-16 narrow escape against ULM, the Aggies were limited to 243 yards of total offense, or nearly 300 yards below their per-game average at the time.

Therefore, the question arises whether the ninth-ranked Bulldogs, who are currently 36-point favorites, enter this game with a different mindset considering the small-time Warhawks have given a number of big-time programs fits in recent years.

“Most definitely not,” replied senior defensive lineman Josh Dawson regarding if Georgia was preparing for ULM in a unique manner. “We treat every [opponent] the same. … They’re competitors as well, just like us. So, like every other game, we treat [ULM] like a championship game.”

Last season, the Warhawks’ strength was undoubtedly their defense, especially when pitted against upper-tier competition. ULM’s defense, which is aligned in the uncommon, aggressive 3-3-5 formation, remarkably yielded only 265.3 total yards per game in 2014 against the four Power 5 conference teams it faced: Wake Forest, LSU, Kentucky, and Texas A&M.

“ULM is a good team,” said junior Brandon Kublanow, who will confront the Warhawk defense as Georgia’s starting center. “They’ve come close [to winning] with a lot of big schools. … They’re returning a lot of players, and they’ll be ready for Saturday.”

ULM is especially returning a lot of players on defense; it’s essentially the same formidable unit as last year. The Warhawks return nine defenders with at least 10 career starts. Not only do they have most likely the top defense in the entire Sun Belt Conference, but ULM could very well have the best of all three defensive units—line, linebackers, and secondary—of all its conference members.

The Warhawks’ linebacking corps should be particularly skilled this season. Spearheaded by starters Hunter Kissinger, Michael Johnson, and Cody Robinson—all seniors and all-conference candidates—ULM’s linebackers as a group are arguably better than half of the teams in the SEC at the position. On a smaller scale, it’s just another example in recent years of the Warhawks getting the better of a team, or teams, belonging to the SEC.

“I may or may not bring it up, but I’m sure somebody along the way will,” Richt said yesterday regarding whether ULM’s historical upsets over Alabama and Arkansas will be reiterated to his team. “But, [more so], the thing I’m [stressing] is we really, truly need to focus on our assignments—our job.”

And, to avoid the heartbreak Alabama and Arkansas has endured at the hands of ULM, part of the Bulldogs’ “job” is to not treat the Warhawks like the giant killers they’ve been, but like every other opponent—like a championship game.