Did Georgia's 38-0 blanking of Tennessee Tech give Bulldog fans an early glimpse of what the future might be?
Head coach Mark Richt certainly hopes so.
Freshmen played a huge role for Georgia on both sides of the ball.
On offense, freshman Washaun Ealey led the Bulldogs with 89 yards and two first-half touchdowns on runs of 7 and 44 yards, while tight end Orson Charles hauled in a 23-yard scoring pass from Joe Cox with Branden Smith tallying his team's fourth first-half touchdown on a 52-yard run.
Defensively, Montez Robinson enjoyed a huge game at defensive end, collecting two of Georgia's six sack and five tackles, second-most on the team.
Freshman Michael Gilliard made the most of his playing time, collecting three tackles.
Other freshmen contributors included tight end Arthur Lynch (2 catches for 17 yards) and wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (2 catches for 17 yards).
"It is encouraging. It was good to see our freshmen make plays, even at the tight end position. We got seven catches there, and it was good to see Orson make his plays as well as Artie (Arthur Lynch) make his pays," Richt said. "That's a good sign for the future, no doubt, guys who are fast and guys who can make plays. They're also guys who are going to be around here for a while."
Smith's 52-yard run with 3:01 to play in the first quarter was reminiscent of his 61-yard scamper against South Carolina earlier this year.
After taking the direct snap, Smith quickly broke contain, hit the right sideline and strode untouched to the end zone for Georgia's third score, blowing past a Tennessee Tech safety at the 15-yard line.
"It was very similar (to his run against South Carolina). I thought it was a 61-yarder again," Smith said. "It was just good blocking, just like last time. I saw the guy (the safety) out of the corner of my eye, but he wasn't getting me. I was running too fast."
Richt was particularly happy for Robinson, who two weeks ago told UGASports that he had once considered transferring to Purdue.
"I hope he feels that this is more like home for him. Montez is a very, very talented kid. We wouldn't have played him this year if we didn't think he was a special guy," Richt said. "I was just so glad to see him get those sacks, that's what defensive ends want the most and he did a super job. He also a really fine hit on a run there late in the game, went right square at him (the running back) and knocked him back."
Penalties remain a problem
Richt decided he'd try something new in attempt to curb the rash of penalties that have plagued the Bulldogs all year.
Every play that picked up a flag would immediately be sent do the bench. It seemed like a good idea.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs still felt the painful sting of the penalty bug as Georgia was flagged 11 times for a total of 89 yards.
"That's what we did this week, but I don't know if we will continue to do that quite frankly. I might have got them so tight that they couldn't stay still," Richt said. "But I had decided this week that's what we were going to do. It sends a message but it also gets guys about as tight where they're thinking if I just flinch, I'm out of the game. I'm not sure we will continue with that. If it would have had tremendous success, I would have only had to do it two or three times but it didn't happen that way."
Six of the 11 penalties were false starts called on the offensive line.
"I think the officials did an awesome job. I'm not saying anything about the officials at all, but our kids felt like there was some barking or something that sounded like our cadence, they were shifting and kind of making noises as they went," Richt said. "At least our guys thought that might have been part of the reason. It might have been they just shifted quicker and our guys didn't react well. But I want to reiterate what a great job the officials did."
Backup safety Quintin Banks suffered a hand injury and did not return.
The Bulldogs played the game without wide receiver A.J. Green and defensive end Justin Houston.
This and that
Georgia returns to action next Saturday when the Bulldogs entertain Auburn at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.
. Sophomore kicker Blair Walsh connected on a 24-yard FG in the second quarter. Walsh has hit 13-of-14 this season and has drilled seven FGs of 40 or more yards in 2009. He is also 77-of-77 in PATs in his career.
Redshirt freshman defensive end Cornelius Washington got the first start of his career since Houston is out with an elbow injury suffered against Florida. He had two stops including a sack.
Christina Swoope, a senior from Alpharetta who is majoring in Microbiology, Pre-pharmacy, escorted by Andrew Swoope and sponsored by the UGA Red Coat Band, was named the 2009 UGA Homecoming queen. Darryl Tricksey, a senior from Atlanta who is majoring in Environmental Health Science, escorted by Linda Tricksey and sponsored by Kappa Alpha Psi, was named the 2009 UGA Homecoming king.
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