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September 15, 2012
Eventually, Georgia's penchant for slow starts may rise up to bite the 7th-ranked Bulldogs right on their collective silver britches.
But for now, Mark Richt's squad can certainly take a measure of comfort by how it has finished, much like it did in Saturday night's 56-20 rout of Florida Atlantic.
For Georgia fans, the script was a familiar one to the one they witnessed in the Bulldogs' first two games before finishing strong to put away both Buffalo and Missouri.
The Bulldogs (3-0) appeared uninspired for much of the first half and found themselves tied with the Owls (1-1) at 14 early in the second, before reeling off 28 of the next 34 points. Georgia churned out a school-record 711 total yards. The Bulldogs have outscored its three opponents in the second half 81-23.
"The offense really did a good job," Richt said. "When you get that type of output, you're executing and doing some very good things. If we can keep from shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties, we've got a chance to be good on offense."
It was certainly a good night to pad the stats.
Quarterback Aaron Murray enjoyed a record-breaking evening, completing 14 of 19 passes for a career-high 342 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing three times for 20 more and two scores.
Both running backs eclipsed the 100-yard mark, Gurley rushing 10 times for 111 yards and a touchdown with Marshall chipping in with 10 for 104 and his first collegiate score. It was the first time since 2004 that two Bulldog freshmen have gone over the 100-yard mark in the same game.
"We were running well," Marshall said. "It all starts with the offensive line. Everybody was making big plays."
For good measure, linebacker Amarlo Herrera contributed to the cause, returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman quarterback Christian LeMay tallied his first career touchdown, running in from 1-yard out.
Georgia struggled for much of the first half before finally finding its rhythm late in the second quarter to take a 28-14 lead into the locker room.
"I think we can execute at a high level every week, but you have to remember where we are," FAU coach Carl Pelini said. "We only have so many bullets in the gun. We were still executing and blocking late in the game, and I think we can use this to improve."
The game started well enough for the Bulldogs, who took advantage of an early forced fumble by linebacker Chase Vasser on FAU's initial possession before capitalizing with a 71-yard drive to grab an early 7-0 lead.
But the Owls bounced back, tying the game on a 44-yard run by Damian Fortner before the Bulldogs answered, gobbling up 94 yards on just five plays capped by Marshall's first career touchdown from 2 yards out.
However, FAU wasn't through.
For the second time, the Owls responded, tying the game again on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Graham Wilbur to tight end Nexon Dorvilus with 12:29 left in the second quarter.
Apparently, that was just the wakeup call needed by Georgia, which gave up 318 yards of offense to FAU.
Following an exchange of possessions, the Bulldogs forged ahead again, driving 75 yards on eight plays to set up a 2-yard run by Murray, who capped the first-half scoring with a 67-yard pass to Michael Bennett, who caught four balls for a career-best 110 yards. Tight end Arthur Lynch also enjoyed a solid day, catching three passes for 73 yards, including his first career touchdown.
"It's great to be 3-0," said Richt, whose Bulldogs host SEC rival Vanderbilt Saturday night (7:45 p.m., ESPN2). "We're looking forward to getting back into league play and I'm glad we'll be at home. They know they will come after us. They're fighting for their lives in league play, so we've got to be ready."