NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After failing to rush for over 100 yards in three straight games, Georgia desperately wanted to get its ground game going Saturday against Vanderbilt.
Although it took a while, the Bulldogs' patience paid off and by the end of the afternoon had totaled 173 yards, the most for the team this year after rushing for 155 last month against Arkansas.
"I'm glad we stuck with it and as you can see, it wears people down," quarterback Joe Cox said. "It didn't do a lot at first, but if you keep driving the ball it opens up play-action then you'll start getting big runs and that's how you put teams away."
Counting Cox, eight different players got carries for the Bulldogs, led by freshman Washaun Ealey who earned his career start and responded by rushing 13 times for 71 yards, including a long run of 33 yards.
Even seldom-used Dontavious Jackson got into the act. Jackson didn't get into the game until late in the fourth quarter but picked up 38 yards on just three carries, followed by Carlton Thomas with six carries for 30 yards.
Caleb King only gained 15 yards on five attempts, but scored his first career touchdown on a 2-yard run and turned a 21-yard screen pass from Cox into another score.
"Oh man, that was big. The confidence level is back up," King said. "We all ran the ball well today. We just have to take it from there."
Head coach Mark Richt would like nothing better.
Georgia's ground-game struggles have been well documented, but at least for one afternoon Richt was able to feel good about what he saw.
"Washaun I thought ran the ball better in the second half than the first half. He's still a pretty young and inexperienced back, but he's starting to get behind his pads a little bit better and push the pile. I think all the guys ran relatively well," he said. "There's a few where we were pushing a zone play to the right and I thought maybe they could have cut back a couple of times, but for most part ran the ball well."
Offensive line shakeup
Georgia's offensive line featured a different look as junior Josh Davis got the start at right tackle.
Davis replaced Clint Boling, who slid over to right guard in place of Justin Anderson who had started Georgia's first five games.
For Davis, it was his first action since the Capital One Bowl after missing all of spring practice following surgery on both shoulders.
This and that
Along with Ealey and junior fullback Fred Munzenmaier made his first career start.
Although he didn't play, redshirt sophomore Charles White has apparently been moved to fullback.
The South Carolina native worked out with the rest of the backs during pregame. White, who is coming off an Achilles injury, has not played in a game yet this year. ... Junior safety Quintin Banks (knee) saw his first action of the year after injuring his MCL in preseason.
Sophomore Drew Butler, the NCAA leader in punting average, had five for a 47.0 average today.
Georgia returned to the Red Zone today, capping an eight-play, 64-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown by King, his first of the year. Last week at Tennessee, Georgia did not reach the Red Zone for the first time since the 1990 Clemson game, a span of 232 contests.
Georgia managed 7 points off one Vanderbilt turnover (Reshad Jones INT). Vanderbilt failed to convert an INT by Joe Cox in to any points. For Jones, it was his first this year and eighth of his career. It was the fifth INT for the Bulldogs this year. The Bulldogs have a turnover margin of minus 11 this year. Georgia has forced six turnovers this year and turned them in to 21 points.
Sophomore kicker Blair Walsh improved to 11-for-12 on the year in Field Goal Attempts, making a 42-yarder and a 43-yarder today. He was 4-for-4 in PATs to remain perfect in his career at 70-for-70.
Senior Prince Miller had two big punt returns for a total of 95 yards (47.5 avg.) while sophomore Brandon Boykin averaged 23.7 on three kickoff returns.
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