Originally created 11/12/06

Georgia's receivers make the big plays



AUBURN, Ala. - The words "Georgia receiver" have carried negative connotations throughout the season.

They conjure up memories of bobbles and drops.

The crew finally atoned for some of its past transgressions in Georgia's 37-15 win over Auburn on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

A.J. Bryant and Kenneth Harris made big-play catches in the first half, and Mohamed Massaquoi caught a drive-saving pass to help stem the stigma that has followed the unit during Georgia's mid-year swoon.

And they didn't drop a pass.

"We just came out and said we were going to have fun, regardless of how everybody else talked about us," Bryant said. "It was about having fun and making plays."

Bryant only had two catches, but his first reception - a 53-yarder in media coverage along the sideline - jolted Auburn's defense and seemed to stoke Georgia's confidence in the first quarter.

Harris' 40-yarder over Auburn's top cornerback, David Irons, fueled the Bulldogs' attack even more.

Both catches, which came on a play named P-44 Takeoff, set up touchdowns and forced the Tigers to play more zone coverage.

"We just needed somebody to make a spark," Bryant said. "The opportunity presented itself, and I was glad I was able to be that first spark."

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said Georgia's limited, but effective, passing game changed the Tigers' defensive approach.

"Their receivers have been talked about and criticized quite a bit this year," he said. "They've lost some to injury, and Mark (Richt) has battled back from that. Again, their receivers caught the ball."

GIVE AND TAKE: Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware helped seal the upset with punishing runs during the second half.

The tailbacks endured some punishment themselves, though, and that could be unwelcome news for a running back corps already without injured Thomas Brown.

Lumpkin suffered a mild left ankle sprain midway through the fourth quarter after running for 105 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown.

Though his status is not known, the way he walked out of the interview room after the game could suggest he might be ready for Georgia Tech in two weeks.

Ware might not be so lucky.

The junior suffered a right ankle sprain and right knee sprain on Georgia's final drive. He was on crutches and his leg was iced after the game.

Offensive line comes up big: Center Nick Jones was perhaps the most furious player after last week's loss at Kentucky.

As the Wildcats ran out the clock, Jones sat alone on the sidelines, rocking back and forth and violently pulling at his hung head.

A week later, Jones was giddy because of how the Bulldogs' offensive front handled Auburn.

"They were a great defense, and we knew coming in we had to play our best," Jones said. "All my (linemen) played hard. I kept telling them all day to play their (butts) off. We gave Matthew (Stafford) time and provided space for (Lumpkin), Danny (Ware) and (Brannan Southerland)."

Auburn's blitz-driven defense never touched Stafford in passing situations, and the Bulldogs' front, which has been hindered by injuries, helped its running backs and quarterback rush for 227 yards.

THIS AND THAT: For the first time since Georgia's win over Alabama-Birmingham in the third game of the year, the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on their opening possession. It was the first time since the Tennessee game that Georgia produced any points on its initial possession. ... Georgia sacked Brandon Cox once on Auburn's first three possessions. The Bulldogs did it twice on third down. ... Bryan Evans made his second start of the season, replacing Ramarcus Brown at cornerback. Brown, who started nine games, was taken out of last week's loss at Kentucky but was replaced by freshman Asher Allen. ... Former Doak Walker Award winner and Georgia standout Garrison Hearst was in attendance, as was former Auburn star Bo Jackson. ... A Chick-fil-A Bowl representative was at the game. Earlier in the week, the bowl's blog stated that Georgia likely needed to beat Auburn and Georgia Tech to receive an invite. ... Georgia still trails in the series by four wins. ... Appearing on the Jumbotron 30 minutes before was Tuberville standing next to tailback recruit Caleb King. The two were on the field together during pregame warmups. King, who is rated one of the top running backs in the country, is being courted by Georgia and Auburn.