Walsh, Green show signs of things to come

ATHENS --- Uga VII wasn't the only Bulldog rookie to make a lasting impression in his debut during No. 1 Georgia's 45-21 pasting of Georgia Southern on Saturday.

 

Georgia coach Mark Richt called upon 10 freshmen -- including starters Cordy Glenn and Blair Walsh -- to get playing time against the Eagles, the largest number of first-year players to see action in a season opener in the Richt era.

The players who made the biggest impact were place-kicker Walsh and flanker A.J. Green. The highly-touted Green made an immediate impact, grabbing a 36-yard pass from Matthew Stafford on his first play from scrimmage as a Bulldog.

"It was a takeoff (play) and the ball was right there; it felt really good," said Green, who added he learned he'd be the intended receiver on the play in the huddle. "It was running through my mind that I had to catch that ball. You don't get that many opportunities to catch a deep ball like that as a true freshman, so I knew I had to make my mark early."

Stafford was impressed with Green.

"He did a good job," said Stafford. "He made some great plays and I'm pretty sure he was good on his assignments, so that's definitely a positive."

While catching one dramatic pass in their first game might have been enough for some players, it wasn't enough for Green. With 7:46 left in the fourth quarter, he was on the receiving end of a 4-yard pass from Joe Cox and scored his first collegiate touchdown.

"I kept thinking, 'I want to get some more,' " said Green. "There were a lot of expectations with me coming in here and I felt I had to show the people something. One of my strongest points is just to throw it up and let me go get it. The touchdown was great, but that first (reception) was more meaningful. To make a play in front of 92,000 when you're a true freshman and you're running a deep, route, that's the greatest feeling ever."

Walsh also made a nice first impression when he drilled a 52-yard field goal with two minutes remaining in the first quarter to put the Bulldogs ahead 10-0. It was the longest field goal for a freshman kicker at Georgia in a dozen seasons.

"When I got out there, I was thinking, 'Man, I've really got to get ahold of this -- it's 52 yards and it's my first kick. I've got to get my entire leg into it,' " said Walsh.

Earlier in the week, Walsh talked to former Georgia kickers Brandon Coutu and Kevin Butler about what to expect.

Other first-year players who made impacts in to Saturday's game included defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson and split end Tavares King.

"All night I was tossing and turning," King said. "I kept waking up and feeling my heart pumping away. By my second or third snap, I wasn't feeling nervous anymore."

Reach Chris Starrs at chris.starrs@onlineathens.com.

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