The Dawg Sports staff is looking back at the 2012 season. Today we'll look at game 5 against Tennessee. You can find the previous installments here (Buffalo), here (Mizzou), here (FAU), and here (Vandy).
When Tennessee kicked off to Malcolm Mitchell at 3:30 on a sunny Saturday afternoon between the Hedges, I'm not sure anyone would have predicted what followed. Over the next three hours, the Dawgs and the Vols would roll up 1,038 total offensive yards and forty-six first downs while trading seven turnovers. Both teams would miss PATs, and Tennessee would block another. And when the dust settled, the Dawgs would wind up on the right side of a 51-44 shoot-out despite failing to score in the fourth period.
The 2012 Tennessee game really had it all, and I don't just mean in terms of drama and offensive fireworks. In hindsight, during this one game we saw everything that made the 2012 Bulldogs so great and so frustrating. On offense, Gurshall continued to run all over the competition, combining for 294 yards and 5 TDs on just 34 touches. Aaron Murray overcame an early, freakish pick-6 (and an ugly fumble) to finish 19-of-25 for 278 and 2 TDs of his own. Coach Bobo drew up the game plan that yielded those garish stats, but he also made Aaron Murray run an ugly option play (what???) and completely abandoned the pistol formation that shredded the Commies the week before (why???).
On defense, we held Tyler Bray below his season average in terms of both yards per game and yards per attempt. We also picked him off thrice. In what would become a troubling theme for the year, however, we gave up 197 yards on the ground... to a team that averaged just 160 rushing yards per game and finished in the bottom half of the FBS. But we never stopped clawing or fighting, and Sanders Commings came through in the clutch to seal our victory with a pick in the final minute.
On special teams, well, the less we talk about that the better.
After the game, chuckdawg had this to say:
UGA won ugly. The Bulldogs had a lot of horrible stuff, but hey, UGA had a lot of good stuff as well. And this is the first game I remember, thinking on SECCGs, Bowl Games, and big games that a Mark Richt team was on the verge of folding up, and fought back to tie in the first half with a FG, and kept in the game and won in the second half. We would have lost today almost any other time. It's ok to win ugly, as long as you win.
That really says it all. The 2012 Bulldogs were many things: They were fun to watch at times and absolutely depressing to watch at others. They could look like world-beaters one minute but then be dominated by inferior competition next. But no matter what, they never stopped fighting. They may not have won any championships, but, damn, they were fun to watch.
As a final note, this was Michael Bennett's last game before he tore his ACL. He caught 5 passes for 70 yards and 2 TDs. If you weren't already excited about our offense's potential for next season, just remember that we played our last 9 games without one of our best weapons.