Georgia Falls To South Carolina, 17-6

A.J. Green-less Dawgs' red-zone woes lead to Richt's first loss in Columbia. Follow SB Nation Atlanta on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook. Visit Dawg Sports for live game discussion.

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No. 22 Georgia Stuffed 17-6 At No. 24 South Carolina

Columbia, SC (Sports Network) – One week after Marcus Lattimore made his collegiate debut, the freshman running back totaled 182 yards rushing and two touchdowns, as No. 24 South Carolina outmuscled 22nd-ranked Georgia, 17-6, in the SEC opener for both teams.

Lattimore’s number was called 37 times, as the Gamecocks (2-0, 1-0 SEC) and their pass-happy head coach ran the football 52 times and passed just 17 in the victory.

Stephen Garcia was efficient in his attempts, completing 12 passes for 165 yards. Seven of those were caught by Alshon Jeffery, who compiled 103 receiving yards.

Aaron Murray finished 14-of-21 for 192 yards and Washaun Ealey posted 75 yards rushing for the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1). Georgia played without leading wide receiver A.J. Green, who was serving the second of a four-game suspension for selling his Independence Bowl game jersey to an individual who meets the NCAA definition of an agent.

South Carolina sliced through the Bulldogs defense on the game’s opening possession. The highly-touted freshman Lattimore navigated through the Georgia front seven for 16 yards on an early 3rd-and-12 and pushed through the line for three more on another third down later in the march.

Lattimore then showcased his leg drive, carrying a Georgia linebacker two yards into the end zone on the series’ 16th play.

The Bulldogs responded with a lengthy 13-play drive, taking the football 60 yards before Blair Walsh connected on a 27-yard field goal. A 14-yard connection to Tavarres King on third down kept the drive alive later in the march.

The defenses stood up for nearly the remainder of the half before the Gamecocks pushed through with Lattimore’s second rushing score of the half. The drive featured two connections between Garcia and Jeffery and a 16-yard swing pass to Lattimore, which set up the freshman running back’s two-yard plunge and a 14-3 advantage with less than two minutes to play in the half.

Lattimore broke the 100-yard barrier with 101 in the first half, and South Carolina held a 228-73 edge in total yards.

Georgia, like its first drive of the game, came out of the locker room and moved the ball into field goal range. Murray found Kris Durham for 11 yards then Orson Charles for 13 more before connecting with Logan Gray for 15 to the Gamecocks 26-yard line. The drive ended with Walsh’s 26-yard boot for a 14-6 score.

A whole dose of running and clock-eating left the Gamecocks on the doorstep of the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Lattimore got eight of the carries, and the drive ended with Spencer Lanning’s 24-yard chip shot.

Georgia gave up just 14 total yards to Louisiana-Lafayette in the season opener…Lattimore ran for 54 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut then ran for 50 yards in the first quarter against the Bulldogs…This was the 63rd meeting between these SEC rivals, and Georgia still holds a commanding 46-15-2 edge in the series…Durham caught three passes for 76 yards…In Green’s absence, seven different Bulldogs caught passes.

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Cold-'Cocked By Lattimore, Georgia Loses To South Carolina, 17-6

Well, at least Dawg fans won’t have to spend a lot of time wondering what would’ve happened had A.J. Green been in the game. Green might’ve provided a new dimension for freshman QB Aaron Murray, but he wouldn’t have been able to stop Gamecock RB Marcus Lattimore, who gashed the reshuffled UGA defense to the tune of 182 yards and powered Carolina to a 17-6 win.

After the teams traded scores on their first drives, Georgia’s offense went into a shell, allowing the Gamecocks to take a 14-3 lead into halftime. In the second half, the coaches took the restrictor plate off Murray and let him throw some nice passes, but the momentum turned on a play midway through the third quarter, in which Georgia drove down inside the Carolina 5 only to cough up the ball on a Washaun Ealey fumble just inches from the goal line. Carolina iced the game with 76 seconds left to go on a chip-shot field goal from Spencer Lanning, and that was all she wrote.

Clearly, Todd Grantham’s reclamation project on the Bulldog defense isn’t done yet, as the Dawg front seven tackled poorly against Lattimore nearly all afternoon long. Aaron Murray, however, already looks ready for prime-time. The redshirt freshman avoided any major mistakes — he went 14-of-21 with no picks, and his 192-yard total bested Stephen Garcia’s — and showed poise and leadership under center that, dare I say it, looked almost Peyton Manningesque at times. A frustrating loss, to be sure, but one that still offers reason for hope.

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Georgia Trails South Carolina 14-3 At The Half

Georgia fans frightened and confused by last year’s wild shootout against the Gamecocks may be relieved to know that the series has returned to form somewhat — only 17 points have been scored at intermission today. Unfortunately, the Gamecocks have most of them, leading the Dawgs 14-3.

South Carolina got on the board first with a two-yard TD run on the Cocks’ opening drive, which Georgia answered with a 27-yard Blair Walsh field goal after some nice runs by Washaun Ealey, returning after a one-game suspension. That was it until the closing minutes of the half, when running back Marcus Lattimore scored his second TD with 1:40 remaining.

Positives for the Dawgs? Well, Aaron Murray hasn’t made any major errors, though the coaching staff has hardly given him much of a chance to (he’s 4-of-8 for 32 yards and no picks). And Ealey has run the ball pretty well for the most part, with 47 yards on 11 carries. The defense has finally shown some signs of the “growing pains” Dawg fans were all worried about in the offseason. Stephen Garcia hasn’t been a huge factor, totaling 107 yards on 9-of-13 passing and also suffering a pair of sacks, but the Georgia defensive front has had no answer whatsoever for Lattimore, who’s already crossed the century mark in rushing yards. Georgia’s D hasn’t tackled particularly well, either, particularly when Lattimore’s been the ball carrier; if you’ve noticed a play where Lattimore went down on first contact, you’ve clearly been watching this game a lot closer than I have.

With the Dawgs likely to face a steady diet of Lattimore as the Cocks try to hold onto their lead and grind down the clock in the second half, it’ll be up to Murray and the offense to come up with some big plays and bring the Dawgs back. We’ll see if it happens.

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Reports: Suspended South Carolina Starters OL King And CB Culliver Will Play Today

While tight end Weslye Saunders remains in the penalty box indefinitely, Georgia has a pair of reasons to scrunch its face. First:

According to sources, USC OL Jarriel King has had his eligibility restored and will play against UGA tomorrow.less than a minute ago via web

More details here. The 6-foot-5, 324-pound senior left tackle (who earned South Carolina’s Most Improved Offensive Lineman Award this offseason, a very specific award indeed) was originally suspended during the Whitney Hotel investigation.

Senior cornerback and returner Chris Culliver is also all systems go. Culliver was second-team All-SEC last year, a preseason third-team All-SEC pick by Phil Steele and Athlon, and South Carolina’s all-time return yardage leader. He was suspended for some insurance thing.

All that and the brother A.J. Green still can’t get free. Spend time with Dawg Sports today.

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Chris Hawkins Claims He Bought A.J. Green's Jersey With The Purest Of Intentions

Joe Schad has a word with Chris Hawkins, the former North Carolina cornerback linked to A.J. Green’s four-game suspension. Hawkins admits to buying Green’s jersey, but says he did so without any agent-like motives.

Former UNC CB Chris Hawkins just told me he gave AJ Green 1000K for his jersey.less than a minute ago via txt

We’ll assume that means $1,000, not $1,000,000.

Hawkins on Green jersey: “It’s in a frame in a basement right now. I can send you a picture. I wasn’t gonna sell it.”less than a minute ago via txt

The North Carolina football program has become the Deepwater Horizon of college football.

More to come? More to come.

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Report: Chris Hawkins, A.J. Green's Jersey Buyer, Also Involved With UNC Scandals

Mark Schlabath reports a former North Carolina defensive back named Chris Hawkins is the agent-like substance to whom A.J. Green sold his Independence Bowl jersey.

According to Schlabath, Hawkins contacted Green via Facebook, pitching himself as a memorabilia collector — and not as an agent.

Hawkins is also under investigation by the NCAA as to whether he arranged for meetings between agents and Tar Heel players.

More to come.

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Georgia Appealing A.J. Green's Four-Game Suspension

As Nick Parker reports, suspended receiver A.J. Green is slated to miss the next three games on Georgia’s schedule. The University is appealing the suspension in hopes of getting it reduced to two games, meaning he’d only miss South Carolina this Saturday. Last week’s self-imposed sitdown during Louisiana-Lafayette counted to reduce the eventual total by one game.

If the appeal fails, Green will also miss the team’s SEC home opener against Arkansas and a road game against Mississippi State.

Mark Richt says he hopes to hear back on the appeal by some time next week. NCAA appeals process sounds like a bureaucratic memory hole from which no good things can ever crawl, but keep in mind Jeremiah Masoli recently won a very quick appeal. That may have been the NCAA’s good deed for the year, however.

A Tech fan lends his sympathies:

I really really want to see georgie go O-for-AJ the rest of this monthless than a minute ago via web

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Reports: A.J. Green Sold Jersey To Agent, Suspended Four Games

Rapidly breaking news from all directions:

Green was found to have sold his Independence Bowl jersey to someone later found to be agent.less than a minute ago via web

 

According to @schadjoe, AJ Green sold the jersey to an agent. That’s where you see the big no-no.less than a minute ago via web

 

Georgia Director of Athletics Greg McGarity confirmed that the University
will appeal the NCAA decision.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

 

The game against Louisiana-Lafayette counts as one game towards the 4-game suspension for UGA Wide Receiver AJ Greenless than a minute ago via web

 

AJ Green, in a statement, apologizes.less than a minute ago via web

 

As for Chuck Oliver ... oh, Chuck Oliver.

More to come, as soon as the human mind can conceive of how silly this all is. Dawg Sports has more.

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A.J. Green Not In The Clear, According To UGA Attorney

Conflicting with Chuck Oliver’s report, Tim Tucker heard from UGA Athletic Association attorney Edward Tolley, who said:

“At 6:30 tonight, we still have not heard anything from the NCAA,” attorney Edward Tolley, representing the UGA Athletic Association in the matter, told the AJC.

Asked about Internet reports that the case involves the alleged sale of a game jersey by Green, Tolley said: “I can’t comment on that.”

Marc Weiszer also presumes the issue is Green’s sale of a game jersey on the internet. Apparently the NCAA’s delay can be attributed to Green’s charming use of a throwback 300 baud modem, which is causing the re-download of the jersey to take longer than expected.

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South Carolina Preview: When The Dawgs Have The Ball

The tune-up against UL-Lafayette was nice -- really nice -- but we all know that was the undercard. This weekend's game in the ferociously unfriendly confines of Columbia, S.C., will be the real test of just how far this Georgia team has come. And if history is any guide, the Georgia offense will have its work cut out for it: Even with last year's bizarre shootout factored in, the Dawgs have averaged just 19.5 points per game against the Gamecocks under Mark Richt.

SOUTH CAROLINA'S DEFENSE, BY THE NUMBERS
Against the pass: 163.0 yards per game allowed in 2009 (8th nationally); gave up 337 yards to Southern Miss in the opener.
Against the run: 137.7 yards per game in 2009 (52nd); held Southern Miss to just 67 yards on 27 carries (2.5 yards per carry).

REASONS TO BE EXCITED
Southern Miss didn't score all that many points against the Gamecocks, but they did move the ball fairly consistently at times. The 337 yards allowed to the USM passing game is a little misleading, as Carolina naturally went a little softer in coverage late in the game after rolling up a 34-6 lead, but it's not like Southern Miss QB Austin Davis didn't have some success in the first half, going 17-of-23 for 144 yards and a pick (and that was even with star receiver DeAndre Brown being rendered a non-factor almost from the get-go). With linebackers Shaq Wilson and Antonio Allen sidelined due to injury, Davis was able to get into a rhythm in the short passing game; don't be surprised if Mike Bobo devises a similar game plan for Aaron Murray in his very first road game (and his first matchup against an SEC team). Bobo isn't likely to ask Murray to do too much too soon, but with a ridiculously deep TE roster and a crowded stable of RBs and FBs who have proven their mettle catching passes out of the backfield, Murray will still have plenty of options even in a conservative game plan. And Wilson, the Gamecocks' leading tackler last year, could miss not just the Georgia game but the rest of the season with a lingering hamstring injury.

Keep an eye on the status of cornerback Chris Culliver, too -- Culliver sat out Thursday night's game while the NCAA dithered over paperwork (sound familiar, Georgia fans?) related to an insurance policy he took out prior to his senior season. A.J. Green will reportedly play Saturday, and if Culliver doesn't, expect the Dawgs to throw 6'4" Green at Culliver's backup, 5'10", 176-pound CC Whitlock, all afternoon long. If last year is any indication, the results won't be pretty for the Gamecocks.

Georgia may have an advantage on special teams, too, as South Carolina ranked in the nation's bottom 20 last year in both punt-return and kick-return defense. Branden Smith had a couple of nice punt returns last Saturday, including a 31-yarder into Lafayette territory that set up Georgia's first field goal; Brandon Boykin also had a sweet 31-yard kickoff return following the Ragin' Cajuns' only score that allowed Georgia to maintain their momentum and get in position for their touchdown drive to end the first half. As for Blair Walsh, well, if the coaches send him in for anything shorter than 50 yards at this point, they're not even challenging him.

REASONS TO WORRY
For all the (well-deserved) offseason hype surrounding Georgia's experienced offensive line, the line only had a so-so game against Louisiana-Lafayette; they did keep Aaron Murray's jersey fresh-from-the-dryer clean, but from the stands, at least, it didn't seem like the holes they opened up for the running game were quite as big as they could've been. A lot of that had to do with Richt and Bobo not wanting to tip too much of their hand before heading to South Carolina, of course, and if you can rack up 193 yards (at 6.2 per carry) even with a fairly methodical, between-the-tackles running strategy, you must be living right. But Carolina's defensive front is an altogether different animal in terms of speed and overall talent. Having Washaun Ealey back to throw a different dimension at the Gamecocks will be a welcome development this week; let's just hope he isn't rusty.

The running game has to get in some kind of a groove Saturday, because if the Gamecock D is allowed to key in on a freshman quarterback facing an actual SEC team for the very first time, it's going to get ugly. Yes, Murray played and impressively poised and confident game on Saturday, but he also took some risks (that thrilling/terrifying touchdown scramble on the last play before halftime, f'rinstance) that he'd be advised not to take in Columbia. Let's hope Murray gets a refresher course on his throw-it-out-of-bounds skills this week; if we end up seeing Hutson Mason on Saturday, I'd like it to be because we've rolled up a four-touchdown lead, not because Murray tried to make something out of nothing and ended up getting carted out of Williams-Brice on a stretcher.

MATCHUP TO WATCH
Georgia LG Cordy Glenn vs. Carolina DT Ladi Ajiboye. Glenn was battling illness for the last couple weeks leading up to the start of the season, and it showed at times against ULL. Left tackle Clint Boling should have the block locked down as far as Murray's blind side, but it'll be up to Glenn to help carve out lanes for Washaun Ealey and Caleb King against Ajiboye, one of the fastest and most vicious tacklers on the Gamecocks' defense.

(Tomorrow: Georgia's defense vs. the South Carolina offense.)

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Report: A.J. Green Cleared Tomorrow, May Play Saturday; We Blame CalhounDawg424389

From Chuck Oliver:

A.J. Green will be cleared tomorrow, Thursday p.m. at the latest. The belief is that the one game he has already sat out will function as his 1-game suspension … There are no violations with the party in Miami Beach, there are no violations involving ebay, specifically. He did sell a jersey for $1,000 and has now repaid the money.

Having wasted hours selling stuff on eBay, now we understand why this took 41 days to straighten out.

Green had to log back into eBay, contact eBay to remind him of his password after forgetting it, write down his new password, find CalhounDawg424389 (the buyer to whom he’d left glowing feedback for the initial transaction), contact CalhounDawg424389 for the return of the jersey, PayPal back the money, deal with PayPal’s skittishness about larger sums of money sailing back and forth, arrange shipping for the jersey, sit around a day or two and wait for CalhounDawg424389 to UPS the jersey, holler back at CalhounDawg424389 after a couple days of checking the mailbox like “Hey man, this is A.J. again, just hoping you can send that back to me so the team you root for won’t lose this week,” finally get the package back after CalhounDawg424389 sent it Media Mail despite clear instructions from Mark Richt himself, re-box the jersey along with a hand-written receipt from CalhounDawg424389 and rush the whole thing to NCAA offices, and then wait 36 more days for the NCAA to pull its thumb from its butt.

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Report: A.J. Green Cleared To Play Soon

680 AM’s Chuck Oliver:

From Athens: A.J. cleared tomorrow. NO Miami, NO ebay. Did sell jersey, has paid back the $$. Should be 1 game. www.chuckoliver.net for moreless than a minute ago via web

Details coming soon.

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