September 28, 2013

Notebook: Gurley injured

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For as exhilarating as Saturdays 44-41 win over No. 6 LSU was for the ninth-ranked Bulldogs, having running back Todd Gurley watch it from the sideline left somewhat of a damper on the afternoon.

Gurley suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter and did not return, leaving his status for next Saturday's game at Tennessee up in the air.

"I know he sprained his ankle, he's out, but I don't know how long," head coach Mark Richt said in his post-game press conference. "Keith Marshall came in and played pretty well. The other backs, (J.J.) Green and (Brenden) Douglas, I think they're both pretty capable. But I have no idea with an ankle like that if Todd will play next week or not. Those other boys will get some more reps I'm sure."

Gurley was on his way to another 100-yard game before the injury occurred.

The sophomore had eight carries for 73 yards, when he limped off the field. Initially, Gurley appeared he might return after running back to the locker room.

However, when the two teams returned from the locker room, Gurley had ditched the pads and was wearing what appeared to be a boot over his left foot.

Marshall took over the bulk of the running back duties after that, rushing 20 times for 96 yards.

Douglas had two carries for two yards, while Green had one carry for 18 yards in the fourth quarter.

"We have a long season ahead and we just have to keep it going," Marshall said. "We can't look past anyone. We've only played four games, and we need to stay focused and get back to work."

More injury news

Backup defensive end Toby Johnson appeared to twist his knee in the first half and did not return.

Richt had no update on his condition in his post-game press conference, although he was seen standing on the sideline in the second half without any obviously pain.

Linebacker Amarlo Herrera left briefly in the second half with an undisclosed injury but would return.

Offensive line steps up

Nobody will argue that Georgia's offensive line has been consistent through the 1/3 mark of the 2013 football campaign.

That wasn't the case Saturday against LSU.

Not only did the line pave the way for 494 yards of offense, but the Bulldogs did not allow a single sack to the Tigers, a fact that was not lost on Richt during his post-game press conference.

"I thought the linemen were certainly the story of the game," Richt said. "(Murray), obviously, but he can't throw the ball when he's flat on his back. I just thought our big men came to play today."

The Bulldogs stayed with basically a six-man rotation with Kenarious Gates at left tackle, Dallas Lee at left guard, David Andrews at center, Chris Burnette at right guard with Kolton Houston and alternating at right tackle.

"Everybody did an awesome job," Murray said. "They made my job easier tonight."

Special teams special this time around

One week after costing the Bulldogs two touchdowns against North Texas, Georgia's special teams came up big against the Tigers.

The biggest play of the afternoon came in third quarter after [db]Odell Beckham Jr. fumbled a punt that was recovered by Connor Norman at the Tiger 20-yard line.

Three plays later, Murray hit Michael Bennett for a 21-yard touchdown to put Georgia up 34-27.

Georgia also did a better job on kickoff coverage, avoiding the issues that hurt the team on the 99-yard return by North Texas.

"I was concerned. Every time we kicked off I was holding my breath and I'm sure our fans were, too.

We're trying to knock it out. Some of the times, two quarters you're not going to knock it out because the wind is going to be in your face so we had to get them on the ground," Richt said. "Our punt team also did a good job, especially when the young man from LSU fumbled, it, so that was big. That was the only turnover they had. It was about an even of a game as you can have, but our special teams did not give up anything and actually made a big play that helped make the difference."

Kicker Marshall Morgan also had a banner day.

Along with converting all five of his extra points, the sophomore went 3-for-3 on field goals, including a career-long 55-yarder that extended the Bulldogs' lead to 27-20 in the third.

"Those are the ones you live for," Morgan said. "I knew it was going through. I'm just glad Coach Richt gave me the opportunity."

No rest for the weary

One would think that now that the Bulldogs have run the gamut against Clemson, South Carolina and LSU to go 3-1, Georgia would be able to catch its collective breath with Tennessee on deck next week in Knoxville.

Not so fast.

"Tennessee's going to be fired up, their fans will be ready to go. If we think we'll go through anything less than we have, they're nuts," Richt said. "Every game's going to be a barnburner until we become stouter on defense."

Still, Richt won't complain about to Tennessee 3-1, although he knows there's a ton of work to be done.

"We have accomplished something, we've done some wonderful things but I think everybody knows we can get a lot better. There's a lot of improvement we need to make, and I don't think we're sitting, looking in the mirror thinking, 'man we're invincible,'" Richt said. "We're very vulnerable if we don't put it all together. Hopefully, we're used to playing in these types of games where it will help them prepare, not only throughout the week but play each game with the right mindset that we need to have."

This and that

The Bulldogs will learn sometimes Sunday what time next week's game at Tennessee will be. CBS exercised its six-day window on the contest, meaning the game will either be picked up by the network for 3:30 or at night on one of the ESPN Networks. … Sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons had a career-high 15 stops while freshman OLB Leonard Floyd had eight including one sack and two TFL. …Freshman free safety Quincy Mauger and nose guard Chris Mayes got their first career starts for the Bulldogs. Both had four tackles apiece.

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