published Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Georgia Bulldogs impressed with Vols' offensive front

Georgia defensive players, from left, end Garrison Smith (56), linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52), end Ray Drew (47), linebacker Jordan Jenkins (59), strong safety Corey Moore (39), strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (25), free safety Tray Matthews (28).
Georgia defensive players, from left, end Garrison Smith (56), linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52), end Ray Drew (47), linebacker Jordan Jenkins (59), strong safety Corey Moore (39), strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (25), free safety Tray Matthews (28).
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Tennessee's offensive line of Antonio Richardson, Alex Bullard, James Stone, Zach Fulton and Ja'Wuan James has combined for 143 career starts entering Saturday's game against Georgia.

The Bulldogs just need to reflect on last year's meeting to know what kind of challenge to expect.

"I remember that the five or six plays I got in last year definitely weren't a fun five or six plays," Georgia sophomore outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said Tuesday. "Those boys are big and can move, and their arms are about as long as mine. We've just got to find a way to get through them this year."

Georgia turned back Tennessee 51-44 last year at Sanford Stadium after surviving 478 yards compiled by the Volunteers, which were the most allowed by the Bulldogs in the regular season. Tyler Bray threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns, but Georgia's commitment to stopping receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson enabled the Volunteers to rush for 197 yards on 40 carries.

Rajion Neal, a current Tennessee senior, had 104 yards and a touchdown on 23 rushes.

The Bulldogs allowed 100-yard rushers early this season against Clemson and South Carolina but have stiffened in recent weeks, holding North Texas to 7 rushing yards and limiting powerful LSU to 77. Georgia coach Mark Richt described Tennessee's line as the class of the league and maybe the country, but he's also pleased with the play of his defensive front coming off the win over the Tigers.

"Our D-line grew up a lot," Richt said. "Chris Mayes played really good, and even Jonathan Taylor got a chance to get in there at noseguard. Sterling [Bailey] was more stout than he's been, and Ray Drew began to really impose his will a little bit.

"Garrison Smith has always been playing hard and stout."

New workhorse

Georgia starting tailback Todd Gurley missed a second straight day of practice with a sprained left ankle and remains "day-to-day" for Saturday.

Backup Keith Marshall had a career-high 20 carries for 96 yards in last Saturday's triumph over LSU, with most of those occurring after Gurley left early in the second quarter. Marshall's previous high for carries was 12, which happened last season against Missouri and South Carolina, and he believes he has the coaches' trust.

"I feel like they have confidence in me," Marshall told reporters Monday night after practice. "I have confidence in myself, so it isn't really a big deal."

Marshall rushed for a career-high 164 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries last year against Tennessee.

Mettenberger recap

Senior tight end Arthur Lynch is the Georgia player closest to LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

Lynch said the two started texting one another Saturday night before Mettenberger and the Tigers were about to make their return flight to Baton Rouge. When asked Tuesday how Mettenberger was doing, Lynch said his former teammate had endured a long week.

"I think he was hurt by it," Lynch said. "I think he felt bad more for his mom, because she had to go through a bunch of stuff that was just awkward. It's the elephant in the room and it's been there a while, but I think he did everything he could to put his team in a position to win."

Praise for Frix

Freshman snapper Trent Frix, whose older brother Ty held the same responsibilities for the Bulldogs, played a part in Georgia recovering Odell Beckham's fumbled punt in the third quarter Saturday. That was the only turnover LSU committed and was a key play in Georgia's 44-41 win.

Frix snapped on punts against the Tigers, while Nathan Theus snapped for extra points and field goals.

"Trent has a very good snap and very good speed," Richt said. "He played some linebacker in his day, so he's probably a guy who can make some plays getting a guy on the ground. Most people in the country don't account for your snapper."

Odds and ends

Richt after facing three ranked teams in the first four games: "We're playing Tennessee, so I don't foresee a letdown." ... The Bulldogs trail the series with Tennessee 21-19-2, but they are 8-4 against UT under Richt. ... Richt wore coat and tie to Tuesday's news conference before leaving to attend the funeral of former cornerback Paul Oliver. ... Georgia's homecoming game against Appalachian State on Nov. 9 will have a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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