ATLANTA - Although there weren't any smiles in the Georgia lockeroom following Saturday night's 35-21 loss to Boise State, the respective performances of freshmen Isaiah Crowell and Malcolm Mitchell did offer some reason for optimism.
Crowell rushed 15 times for 60 yards, with a long scamper of 12, while Mitchell accounted for 82 total yards and scored his first career touchdown on a 51-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Murray.
The Valdosta native also picked up 18 yards on an end-around in the fourth quarter.
"I think both of them did well," head coach Mark Richt said. "I'll have to watch the film but my guess is he (Crowell) got as much as he could with what he had to deal with. Malcolm made a couple of big plays, had the nice reverse and a couple of good catches."
Neither freshman was that particularly pleased with their respective results.
"I couldn't have done better," said Crowell.
Ditto for Mitchell, who started the game.
"The touchdown was nice but I would rather have got the win and no touchdowns," he said. "That would have been better."
All two, eight members of the Bulldogs 2011 signing class saw their first game action.
Along with Crowell and Mitchell, safety Corey Moore, cornerback Damian Swann, cornerback Chris Sanders and linebacker Amarlo Herrera played in their first games. Redshirt freshmen Marc Deas, Connor Norman, Kosta Vavlas, Michael Bennett and Michael Erdman also saw their first live action.
Junior college transfer Jonathan Jenkins also played in his first Bulldog contest.
Boykin breaks out
Senior cornerback Brandon Boykin got his first career play on offense for the Bulldogs midway through the first quarter and took a handoff 80 yards for a touchdown to give UGA a 7‐0 lead.
He became the first defensive player to score on offense since fellow corner Branden Smith had a 52‐yard touchdown run two years ago against South Carolina.
It was also the longest touchdown run since Richard Samuel had an 80‐yard touchdown run against Arkansas in 2009.
Sophomore linebacker Alec Ogletree injured his right foot in the second quarter and did not return.
He was replaced by Amarlo Herrera and also Jeremy Sulek.
"Between Ogletree and Christian Robinson, we really couldn't afford to lose either of those two guys because the drop-off was going to be pretty steep with a true freshman (Herrera) and a walk-on (Jeremy Sulek) in there," Richt said. "They're good kids and they're busting their tail but it was a position where we really couldn't afford that type of injury. I've got to get with Ron (team trainer Ron Courson) to find out what's going on with Tree."
Starting offensive guard Kenarious Gates also left in the second quarter and did not return. He was replaced by Dallas Lee.
"Gates leaving was not good for Georgia and it was not good for Gates, but we felt comfortable that Dallas could go in and play guard," Richt said. "As a coach, you don't want anyone to get hurt, but in certain spots, you can take a hit here or a hit there and be OK."
This and that
Bacarri Rambo did not play after Richt admitted during his post-game press conference that the junior had indeed been suspended for violating team rules.
Redshirt freshman Kolton Houston did not suit up for the game.
Offensive lineman Trinton Sturdivant was back on Georgia's sideline during the contest. Sturdivant is recovering from his third ACL injury.
Governor Nathan Deal welcomed fans to the Dome just prior to kickoff.
Christian Robinson led the Bulldogs with 13 tackles, followed by Jarvis Jones with 11.
The Bulldogs are now 89‐26‐3 in season openers including 9‐2 under Mark Richt. Tonight was the first time since 1965 that Georgia opened a season against a top‐five ranked team. The only other season‐opening defeat in the Richt era came to No. 9 Oklahoma State 24‐10 in Stillwater in 2009. Georgia is now 7-9 all-time in domed stadiums, incuding 4-4 in the Georgia Dome. The Bulldogs are now 41-1 against non-conference teams under Richt.
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]