ATLANTA — A difficult season opener for Georgia became all the more challenging during the first half when two sophomore starters were lost for the game.
Left guard Kenarious Gates and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, the only two members of Georgia’s 2010 signing class who earned starts last season, left the game in the second quarter and did not return. Gates suffered a lower left leg injury and was replaced by redshirt sophomore Dallas Lee, and Ogletree injured his right foot and was replaced by senior walk-on Jeremy Sulek and freshman Amarlo Herrera.
Gates sustained his injury midway through the second quarter when quarterback Aaron Murray scrambled to avoid the pressure and landed on it. Cornerback Brandon Boykin and inside linebacker Christian Robinson also suffered first-half injuries but returned.
Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo called the plays from the coaching booth Saturday night for the first time since the 2009 game at Tennessee. Georgia’s offense did not cross UT’s 30-yard line during the 45-19 defeat in ’09, scoring its two touchdowns on a kickoff return and an interception return, and Bobo felt the need to move to the field.
The Bulldogs won 34-10 at Vanderbilt the following week, but Georgia went just 11-9 with that setup entering Saturday’s opener.
Boykin sent out a tweet last week daring Boise State coach Chris Petersen to kick off to him.
The Broncos did on the opening kickoff, and Boykin took a touchback. After Boise State took a 14-7 lead late in the half, the Broncos kicked it into the end zone to Boykin, who chose to return it but got out only to the 15.
After Boise State went up 21-7 early in the third quarter, Boykin got to the 15 again.
“He must have called me the minute he pushed the button to tweet it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said before the game. “He was like, ‘Coach, I hope you’re not mad at me, but I just sent something out daring them to kick to me.’ I just said, ‘As we all know, you can’t take it back, so you better go out there and back it up.’”
Head to head
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity had no idea ABC was going to put Saturday night’s LSU-Oregon game directly opposite Georgia-Boise State on ESPN.
“I’m sure there are people in the television industry who made this call for a perfect reason that really makes sense to them from a television standpoint,” McGarity said, “so I’m sure there was a very well-thought-out plan by the network executives. Is it unfortunate for college football fans? I think so.
“I never really asked about it because all we were concerned about was our game.”
Odds and ends
Georgia junior tight end Orson Charles sported a red mohawk. ... Boykin’s 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was Georgia’s first offensive score by a defensive player since fellow corner Branden Smith had a 52-yard run against Tennessee Tech in 2009. ... Freshman Malcolm Mitchell got his first touch on a punt return in the second quarter and fumbled, but he fell on the ball. ... Georgia picked up its 13th commitment this weekend for its 2012 signing class, receiving a pledge from 6-foot-4, 300-pound Thomson defensive tackle John Atkins.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...