Here’s my short takes on Georgia’s 45-21 win over Clemson Saturday night in Athens. My full column on the game can be found by clicking here.
1. Todd Gurley, Heisman favorite: I know this was only one game. I know he’s not a quarterback and he doesn’t play for a team that anybody was talking about as being a national championship contender. But how could anybody not consider Gurley as a Heisman favorite after his opening season performance against a pretty good team? The junior rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a fourth score in the Bulldogs’ win. Here’s what’s really scary. What happens when Keith Marshall (who looked slow coming off a torn ACL) gets going and wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley return to the lineup from injuries? This offense has the potential to be be among the most productive in the country. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, “Todd Gurley obviously is as good as it gets.”
2. Hutson Mason, game manager: No, the senior quarterback wasn’t great in the first home start of his career. But you know what he wasn’t? A mess. Mason didn’t fumble, didn’t throw an interception and was sacked only once. He completed 18 of 26 passes for only 131 yards and there were a few plays were he and his receivers seemed on different pages. But consider the backdrop, he’ll take this. “Our passing game in Week 1 is always a little funky,” he said. “You’re kind of jittery and anxious but it will only get better.” Mason will get better.
3. Defense didn’t pull apart: Georgia’s defense had a tendency to come apart under coordinator Todd Grantham, particularly in crucial and late-game situations. That wasn’t the case against Clemson. After taking a 21-14 lead in the second quarter, the Tigers went scoreless for the rest of their game. Their final nine possessions: seven punts, one missed field goal and one interception. This is a defense with a young and inexperienced secondary, so logic follows that it will only get better as the season goes on. This Clemson offense doesn’t have the firepower of last year’s team but it’s still Clemson, a program that always is loaded with talent. Pruitt was not made available for comment after the game. Coach Mark Richt said, “Defensively in the second half we took a little pressure off our corners by not playing as much man coverage. WE challenged our men inside to keep them from running the football and we got a lot of good (results). Jeremy did a good job making the change.”
•Some recent ramblings (free links)
— MyAJC: With Todd Gurley, possibilities are endless — AJC: Cantor’s magic tallis has cure to Braves’ problems (on Fridays) — AJC: Weekend Predictions (no lie): Dogs over Clemson — MyAJC: Richt, Georgia need another highlight — MyAJC: Braves CEO Terry McGuirk vows ‘Everybody accountable’ — MyAJC: Full Q&A with Braves CEO Terry McGuirk — AJC: It’s ‘Sack Schultz’ time. Think you can grill me? — MyAJC: If Tech wins, it will be with a better option — MyAJC: Predicting Georgia Tech’s season, game-by-game — AJC: On Braves, McGuirk and repairing baseball — MyAJC: Baseball repair list: Pardon Rose, quicken pace, shorten season — AJC: Braves find a groove, but so do Nationals — MyAJC: Mike Tice has a challenge — and he knows it — AJC: Bobby Petrino, Todd Grantham reportedly feuding already — AJC: Falcons can survive without Baker, not others — AJC: FSU No. 1, Georgia No. 12 in poll of insignificance — MyAJC: Trent Miles trying to change attitudes at Georgia State — AJC: With Braves six back, is ‘Fat Lady’ singing? — MyAJC: B.J. Upton, Braves continue their zombie walk — MyAJC: Cancer didn’t slow Michael Cooper — AJC: Braves’ attendance reflects lack of confidence — MyAJC: Falcons showing humility, lack of comfort — and that’s good — AJC: Braves being hurt by shortage of leaders — MyAJC: Can ‘Power 5’ conferences handle this power? — AJC: Who’s most to blame for Braves’ fall? (vote in poll)