NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In the absence of leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell back in Athens nursing an injured hamstring, Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett stepped up in a big way during Saturday night's 33-28 win over Vanderbilt.
The two combined for 11 catches and 210 yards, with Brown catching four balls for 121 yards and two touchdowns, marking his first 100-yard game.
"I just came out and made plays, the balls came my way and I was able to make plays. That's basically all it was," said Brown.
Quarterback Aaron Murray liked what he saw, although Brown's performance did not come as a surprise.
"It's great to have him step up. Heading into the year I thought he was going to have a big season," Murray said. "He got a little banged up with his ankle and hasn't been 100 percent for the past two weeks, but he told me this week his ankle was feeling better, at least about 90 percent. I knew once he was healthy he would be making plays for us.
Brown's performance helped Murray set some career highs of his own.
The redshirt sophomore went 22-for-38 for 326 yards (both career highs) with three touchdowns and one interception.
Both of Brown's touchdowns came on wide open plays while the Commodores were in Cover-2.
"They were in Cover 2. We had talked all week that the safety didn't get off the hash and there would be a possibility to hit that guy in the hole," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "Aaron did a good job of progressing and Marlon did a good job of making a play."
They came at big times as well.
His 27-yard touchdown right before the end of the first half to cap a seven-play 60-yard drive pushed the lead to 20-7. His 75-yard reception early in the fourth answered a Vanderbilt touchdown that allowed the Commodores to draw within 26-21.
"That was big," Brown said. "We were on the sideline saying no more field goals, we need six points, we need seven points; we needed to score touchdowns."
His 75-yard touchdown was the longest receiving touchdown for the Bulldogs since Matthew Stafford hit Mohamed Massaquoi for an 84-yard score versus Florida in 2007.
"It was good to see Marlon have a good day and that (touchdown) before the half was huge," Bobo said. "It was good to see our guys execute a one-minute drive."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]