ATHENS, Ga. — Although No. 7 Georgia’s 41-26 loss Saturday to No. 25 Missouri was disappointing in nearly every facet of the game, the play of freshmen tailbacks Brendan Douglas and J.J. Green provided a slight ray of light in an otherwise dark afternoon.
Pressed into full-time service after Todd Gurley’s ankle injury on Sept. 28 against LSU and Keith Marshall’s season-ending knee injury last weekend at Tennessee, Douglas and Green were far from perfect, but proved to be more than serviceable for the Bulldogs.
“They did a good job,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “[Offensive coordinator] Mike [Bobo] and I were talking after the game, and they’re good backs, they run the ball well and they caught the ball well. We’re not paralyzed or handcuffed with those guys in there — they did a good job and I’m real proud of them.”
Douglas (70 rushing yards, 43 receiving yards) and Green (87 rushing, 42 receiving) accounted for 242 of Georgia’s 454 offensive yards, and Douglas recorded his second collegiate touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Aaron Murray in the first quarter.
But Douglas also played a role in the Bulldogs’ disastrous second quarter — when Missouri scored 21 points to Georgia’s three to take a 28-10 halftime lead — when he lost a fumble on the Tigers’ 7-yard line with less than two minutes left before halftime.
“That turnover, you can’t really make up for that,” he said. “I’m disappointed in myself for that. I tried to make up for it in the second half, but you really can’t make up for that. … I was trying to fight for some extra yards and I guess they knocked it loose. I thought I was down, but the officials must have had a better view of it. It was disappointing and frustrating.”
The third quarter was a different story as Georgia stormed back to tally 10 unanswered points, thanks in no small part to Green, who rushed for 68 yards (including a 57-yard scamper) and caught two passes for 18 yards, and Douglas, who rushed for 18 yards.
“I thought they did a nice job of making plays when their number was called,” Bobo said. “We thought we’d be able to get some one-back runs with them, which we did, and we thought they’d have to be big in the passing game on the check-downs, and I thought they did a nice job getting where they were supposed to go and making plays.”
Green, who coming into Saturday’s game had rushed for 194 yards and a touchdown, said he eager to get on the field to display that he and Douglas were fit for the task ahead of them.
“I wasn’t anxious,” Green said. “I just wanted to go out there and play and prove to the world that me and Brendan can play and we’re not just freshmen who don’t know what to do. It seems like we stepped it up, but we’ve got to step it up a little more.”
Although it’s unknown if and when Gurley will be able to return to the lineup, Douglas and Green’s teammates expressed plenty of confidence in their abilities in the coming weeks.
“I feel they did a great job, honestly,” offensive guard Chris Burnette said. “They did the same thing (against Tennessee) — they knew they were going to be called on and they came in prepared and hit the holes like they’re supposed to. I felt they had good composure for such young guys.”
“Both of them did a great job, not only in the run game but in pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield,” added Murray. “Those young backs are doing their thing.”