Georgia had their running game on against Old Miss yesterday. It was sort of hum drum the first half, but when Georgia came out for the second half, it was a whole different team.Georgia Ran all over the Miss Defense with their running game. Georgia ripped off four unanswered touchdowns to turn a 17-17 tie in the third quarter into a 45-17 win over Ole Miss.Something was wrong when Thomas Brown dove into the end zone.
Brown rushed for a career-high 180 yards and three touchdowns, danced for the crowd on the sideline to “Crank That,” and danced through Ole Miss’ defense just as nimbly.
Brown made it abundantly clear why he is the starter.
“He’s been waiting for a day like this,” said Kelin Johnson, Brown’s teammate and one of his closest friends. “I know for a fact he has been waiting for a day when the coaches put the ball in his hands and keep putting the ball in his hands because he had the hot hand.”
It didn’t matter that Brown played with a bum shoulder. That wasn’t going to stop him. Instead, he lowered his right shoulder instead of using his left — like on his second touchdown run as he pushed tacklers into the end zone from 4 yards out. That run was sandwiched in between big-play TD runs of 50 and 41 yards.
“The guy is amazing,’ said tight end Tripp Chandler. “The way he came back and what he did today, it is amazing.”
Brown’s performance keeps Georgia firmly in the SEC race. The No. 15 Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1) proved they can control a game on the ground. Tennessee, next week’s opponent, has not proved it can stop anybody. Arkansas State running back Reggie Arnold ran for 130 against the Vols. Cal’s Justin Forsett had 156 yards against Tennessee.
“It might make it tougher for them to prepare now that [Tennessee sees] we are going to try to run the ball on them, at least,” Stafford said.
Knowshon Moreno added 90 rushing yards and a touchdown. The 328 yards is the most Georgia has rushed for in 16 years. Georgia had six runs of more than 20 yards.
“It was awesome to watch,” Stafford said. “We did a great job of pounding them and pounding them.”
Stafford’s day was so pedestrian that he only went through one quarterback towel. Usually the guy has a laundry basket full. He finished 13-of-21 for 144 yards with a touchdown.
That’s not to say there wasn’t work that has to be done. Ole Miss’ offense kept Georgia on its heels for most of the first half. The Rebels jumped to a 7-0 lead and were on the doorstep of a 14-0 lead before Seth Adams fumbled at the Georgia 1.
“I was already planning on it being a long day when they were down there first- and second-and-goal,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
Instead, Ole Miss couldn’t overcome the long odds. After being tied 17-17 in the third quarter, Georgia ran off 28 consecutive points. Brown and Moreno accounted for 21 of those. Fred Munzenmaier tacked on a late touchdown.
“As good as everything was in the first half, everything broke down in the second half,” Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry said.
That still wasn’t enough to convince Jerry of Georgia’s prowess.
“I can’t say they were as good as advertised,” he said. “They were a very good team, but we missed way too many tackles.”
Brown made them miss quite a few, too.
“Today was a day he was able to see it,” running back coach Tony Ball said. “He was able to run with some patience and see it and demonstrate the determination and the will to not get tackled.
“They kept playing with seven in the box, and when you have got Thomas Brown running the ball the way he is running it, you are supposed to run it,” Ball said.
And when you have a senior like Brown, you are supposed to start him, Richt said.
“You want your leaders as your starters,” Richt said. “You don’t change the chemistry of the football team by putting a freshman ahead of him.”
But people had clamored for Moreno. Now Richt has some evidence to back up his theory that Brown is a better bet as a starter.
“[Earlier in the season] it was Knowshon Moreno that was making some of the exciting runs in space, and now Thomas got to do it, too, and I am excited for him,” Richt said.
“I know this means a lot to him,” senior lineman Fernando Velasco said. “No guy on this team is more deserving than Thomas Brown with all that he has been through. I never heard the guy complain a bit in my life. I never heard him say, ‘I don’t want to share the ball. I want to be the man.’ I never heard him say, ‘Why me with an ACL?’