September 23, 2012

YAC becoming a key stat

Yards after contact is not a statistic that shows up in your typical post-game report. Perhaps it should be.

Four games into the 2012 campaign, head coach Mark Richt said Sunday night that's something his fifth-ranked Bulldogs are able to do very well.

"We're definitely breaking tackles, no doubt," Richt said. "A lot of it has to do with I think most any runner who gets started, if there's enough blocking to get him into the hole, get him into the crease or get him around the corner where he can pick up some momentum."

But that's not all.

"I think it's been a combination of the linemen, getting them started and whether it's a linemen going downfield for a linebacker, the tight ends or receivers blocking downfield, I think we're doing a good enough job on the perimeter where those guys (ball carriers) are in tremendous position and we're making some plays."

Of course, running back Todd Gurley is helping out in that regard.

Along with proving he can run past would-be tacklers, the 220-pounder has also shown the propensity to run right through. Gurley demonstrated this during his 29-yard touchdown in the third quarter Saturday, one which he ran through several would-be tacklers before stiff-arming another to the ground before completing the scoring play.

"We got a pretty good taste of what he is going to look like (during preseason scrimmages), Richt said. "I'll just say we were all really looking forward to seeing what he would look like in some real games because we were hopeful he was going to do just what he was able to do in the scrimmages and that's what he's been doing, maybe just a tad bit more as far as getting his blood flowing."

The numbers are bearing Richt out.

Entering Saturday's game against Tennessee (3-1, 0-1), Gurley will do topping the league in a couple of very impressive categories.

Not only are his 406 yards the most of any conference rusher, but his seven touchdowns and 9.2 yards per carry are the best in the SEC.

Of the 9.2 yards per carry, Richt said a good number has come after initial contact, not only from Gurley, but backfield mates Keith Marshall and Ken Malcome as well.

"There are some goals on our offensive goal board, I'm not quite sure that they are, probably 150 yards per game that we're looking for,"Richt said. "It's not just running backs, it's the receivers, it's everybody who has the ball and advances it after having possession of it. I just can't recall sitting there and charting it for any one individual."

NOTES: Georgia remained fifth in the AP Top 25 poll and moved up to 5th in the USA Today/Coaches Poll for Week 4. … Richt said Sunday that safety Shawn Williams feared he had pulled his hamstring prior to Saturday's game against the Commodores. "He thought he pulled it while he was stretching, but it was more a spasm. It kind of tightened up on him. It shook him up. He thought he had pulled it, turned out he didn't, thankfully. I'm not saying it didn't bother him throughout the game, but he played the majority of the game." … If there's been one silver lining to losing players to suspension, Richt said it's given some of his younger players an opportunity to earn some valuable playing time. "I think to this point our team has done a good job of, especially on defense, of guys stepping into roles or more than they probably would have been if not for anybody losing any time." … Richt was asked again about Saturday's status of linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo. Teammates Saturday suggested the duo will play, but Richt still isn't ready to say. "We'll figure it out at pre-game warm-up I guess, just like last week," he said.