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In the days leading up to Saturday afternoon's SEC opener against South Carolina, of the most-commonly uttered phrases was how in the world Georgia's offensive line was going to contain Gamecock All-American Jadeveon Clowney?
Apparently, the Bulldogs had a plan.
The junior defensive end was basically a non-factor for South Carolina as he contributed just three tackles, including one sack and one tackle for loss in the Bulldogs' 41-30 win.
"We definitely attempted to account for him at all time. I think we did a good job," guard Chris Burnette said. "The sack that he did get was from a miscommunication, he just blew somebody up and made a play, which he's capable of. He's obviously a great player but we did a good job of knowing where he was a running plays that negated what he does best."
Initially, it appeared Clowney was going to have his typical All-American afternoon.
On Georgia's first possession, Clowney got right in the grill of quarterback Aaron Murray and appeared to tip the ball, which floated into the arms wide receiver Michael Bennett for a 32-yard gain.
Three plays later, Murray found tight end Arthur Lynch for a 3-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
Head coach Mark Richt was pleased with the job done by his offensive line, particularly left tackle Kenarious Gates.
Gates drew Clowney for most of the game before going down in the third quarter and being replace by Mark Beard, who proved equally as effective.
"He (Clowney) got banged up somewhere along the way. It didn't look like he was at full speed,"
"But he's a great player, we had a good plan and we executed well. What can I say? I still feel like he's one of the best players on the planet."
For Georgia's offensive line, their effort proved much more to Richt's liking after last week's poor effort at Clemson as the Bulldogs topped the 500-yard mark in total offense for the second time in as many games.
We just tried to stick to our game plan and our game plan was to run the ball with No. 3 (Todd Gurley) and No. 4 (Keith Marshall), and give the ball to Aaron (Murray) when it came down to making clutch plays."
Richt did not have an update on the status of Gates, who went down in a heap after spraining his ankle in the third.
He wasn't the only Bulldog to go down.
Marshall injured his knee in the third quarter and did not return.
Richt did not have an update in his post-game press conference, but according to ESPN's broadcast, it was described as a contusion (bruise).
Josh Harvey-Clemons apologizes
Playing his first game since being suspended against Clemson, sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons apologized for his mistake after admitting he smoked marijuana in a dorm room incident back on May 15.
"It really hurt me bad, but most of all it hurt my teammates," Harvey-Clemons said. "I made a mistakes and I had to learn from it and move on. I was just glad to be back on the field with the fellas."
Harvey-Clemons made five tackles in his return to the field, but it was a key play on South Carolina's first series in the third quarter that proved to be one of the key turning points in the game.
Facing a fourth-and-5 from the Georgia 34, quarterback Connor Shaw had picked up the first down with a 9-yard run before fumbling after a hit by linebacker Amarlo Herrera. Harvey-Clemons was there for the recovery, a play that not only stopped what looked to be a certain scoring drive for South Carolina and set up the game's go-ahead field goal by Patrick Beless.
"Our defense needed some veterans back there, and it was huge to have them," Richt said. "We needed guys in there who knew what they were doing. When you've got guys who have been around the program two or three years, it makes a big difference."
Beless keeps his cool
With Marshall Morgan set to return from his two-game suspension come Georgia's next game against North Texas, redshirt freshman Patrick Beless realizes his day in the limelight for the Bulldogs could well be a thing of the past.
But if it is, he's enjoyed it while it lasted.
"It's nice to get the opportunity, and I'm happy about being able to step up," said Beless, who converted field goals of 22 and 37 yards. "I just need to keep focusing one day at a time."
He credited Morgan for helping him make it through.
"Marshall's been great," Beless said. "He's been a great mentor. He's been out there and he's done it before."
This and that
Georgia is only the fourth team in the last 20 years to face two top]10 teams to start the season and the only to go 1]1. Syracuse (2001), Louisiana Tech (1999) and New Mexico State (1994) all went 0]2. The 11th]ranked Bulldogs rebounded with a 41]30 victory over No. 6 USC and falling 38]35 at No. 8 Clemson last week. Georgia now leads the series with USC 47]17]2 including 14]7 in SEC openers. Georgia has scored 76 points in its first two games this year and allowed 68. c Senior tight end Arthur Lynch caught his fourth career touchdown catch to give the Bulldogs a 7]3 lead at the midway point in the opening quarter. His 3]yard scoring catch from Murray was Murray's first this season and the 96th of his career. Lynch finished with three catches for 26 yards and the one score. c Sophomore punter Collin Barber followed up Lynch's score with an onside kick that senior cornerback Blake Sailors recovered. This is the first onside kick that the Bulldogs converted since the 2012 SEC Championship Game versus Alabama. Georgia attempted one at the end of the game last week at No. 8 Clemson, but the Tigers recovered the ball. The Bulldogs are 5]for]11 on onside kicks during the Richt era. ... The Bulldogs are now 3]for]4 on fourth down conversions after Murray connected with Justin Scott]Wesley for a 24]yard catch on 4th]and]13 from the Georgia 31]yard line. c Defensive end Sterling Bailey led the Bulldogs with seven tackles and finished with a career]high 10, which was second behind Amarlo Herrera who finished with a game]high 12. Herrera and senior nose Garrison Smith also split a sack while Bailey had a sack. c Junior defensive end Ray Drew, Justin Scott]Wesley and Harvey]Clemons were first-time starters for the Bulldogs.
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