ATHENS, Ga. — Russ, the lovable English bulldog who has served as Georgia’s interim mascot, was named Uga IX Saturday before Georgia Bulldogs kicked off its second home game of the season against Florida Atlantic at Sanford Stadium.
Fans cheered as University of Georgia President Michael Adams collared Russ with the red, spiky dog collar that officially made him the new Georgia mascot. The Seiler family, who own the English bulldog line that the original Uga came from, looked on.
Russ has served as interim mascot for 25 games over the past four seasons, but now will be known simply as Uga IX. He is the brother of Uga VII and was never groomed to be a full-time mascot.
“We’ve done it lots before and it’s the same every time – very emotional,” Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler, the Savannah attorney who owns Russ, said.
JONES RESTS: In what is likely an attempt to rest Jarvis Jones’ groin pull, Georgia coach Mark Richt gave freshman Jordan Jenkins the start at outside linebacker. Though Jones – the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week – dressed out and participated as a team captain, he did not see playing time.
Sanders Commings, a former Westside standout, and Chase Vasser got the nod at cornerback and linebacker, respectively, in their 2012 debuts. Both served two-game suspensions for off-season arrests.
Vasser was a nuisance to the Florida Atlantic offense, forcing a fumble and a tackle for loss in the first half.
SLOW START AGAIN: Despite being ranked seventh in the nation, Georgia has yet to put a team away in the first half.
In its home opener against Buffalo two weeks ago, the Bulldogs posted 24 points but only led by eight after two quarters. Last week in Missouri they trailed by one. And Saturday they only led Florida Atlantic 28-14 at
halftime before winning 56-20.
Georgia has been a favorite in each game this season but against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic the spread has been quite substantial – 37.5 and 41.5, respectively.
BALL CONTROL: Florida Atlantic was able to keep the game close in the first half largely because of the time of possession difference. The Owls held the ball for 20:14 through the first two quarters, while the Bulldogs had possession for 9:46.
FAU was also efficient on third downs in the first half, converting eight of 12 attempts.
Statistically, Georgia outplayed Florida Atlantic on offense in the first half, but Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s unit gave up ten plays resulting in gains of 10 yards or more.
FRESHMEN IMPRESSIVE: The Bulldogs gained 174 rushing yards in the first half, and 134 of those have come from true freshmen Keith Marshall (79) and Todd Gurley (55). Though Gurley earned his second career start, Marshall found the end zone in the first half.
On Georgia’s third drive, Marshall ran for five of the eight plays and tallied 57 yards before being stopped at the goal line in what would have been his second touchdown.
Gurley returned two first-half kickoffs for 41 yards with his longest going for 30.