published Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Georgia's Michael Bennett impressive since returning

Georgia receiver Michael Bennett makes a catch during the Bulldog's win over Florida.
Georgia receiver Michael Bennett makes a catch during the Bulldog's win over Florida.

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia's offense never will be fully healthy like it was at the dawn of the season, but Michael Bennett seems to be good as new.

The junior receiver has led the Bulldogs in catches the past two weeks, snagging five receptions against Florida and another five against Appalachian State. Bennett missed the preceding games against Missouri and Vanderbilt after tearing his meniscus Oct. 5 at Tennessee.

"I don't think about it at all, and it hasn't really bothered me at all, thankfully," Bennett said Tuesday. "It's just kind of been a really short injury. They went in there and trimmed up a little bit, and there wasn't a whole lot of swelling with it.

"If you get out there and think about it, you're thinking about the wrong thing."

Bennett had a 23-yard touchdown early in the second quarter against the Mountaineers, which wound up being quarterback Aaron Murray's SEC record-breaking career 115th scoring toss.

The Bulldogs are hoping to get receiver Chris Conley (ankle) back for this week's game at Auburn, but Conley has yet to practice. Bennett and Rantavious Wooten, who had a career-high 104 yards against App State, are the projected starters.

Conley leads Georgia with 30 catches for 418 yards, while Bennett is next with 24 for 322.

A little nervous

Georgia sophomore kicker Marshall Morgan has made nine consecutive field goals dating back to his game-winner at Tennessee, but he's a little more nervous this week.

Morgan also handles kickoffs, and Auburn leads the SEC with a 26.7-yard average in kickoff returns. The Tigers are the only team in the league with two kickoff returns for touchdowns, getting their second last week when Corey Grant made a 90-yard return at Tennessee.

"It definitely makes it a little different this week," Morgan said. "That's my buddy, Michael Palardy, at Tennessee, and in high school he ran a 4.5 or a 4.6 [40-yard dash]. If he can outrun Palardy, I know I better get him, or our team better get him."

Auburn's other kickoff return for a score was Tre Mason's 100-yarder in the opener against Washington State.

'War Eagle' ... what?

Auburn junior quarterback Nick Marshall ravaged Tennessee with 214 rushing yards and a 25-yard touchdown pass, but he was not as quick on his feet in the celebration afterward. Coach Gus Malzahn asked Marshall to lead the team in the "War Eagle" fight song, but Marshall was not prepared.

"I really have to learn that thing," Marshall told the Auburn Radio Network. "Coach Malzahn put me on the spot, and I didn't know it. I'll know it by the time the season is over."

The Garner effect

Less than two months after Rodney Garner left his role last December as Georgia defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the same positions at Auburn, the Tigers went into Georgia and signed two of the nation's top defensive linemen: Montravius Adams of Vienna and Carl Lawson of Alpharetta.

"I think Carl was kind of in the house by the time Coach Garner made the decision," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Montravius had not decided, so I think with Montravius you can probably say it had a lot to do with Coach Garner being there."

Odds and ends

The favored team has won six straight Auburn-Georgia games. The Tigers are 3.5-point favorites. ... Murray on whether he ever got in a throwing contest with Marshall when the two were teammates in 2011: "I was too scared. I heard he could throw the ball like 75 yards in the air. I wasn't about to go out there and throw my arm out." ... Georgia has not led the Auburn series since holding a 42-41-7 edge in 1986. ... Richt on Marshall: "When we first started recruiting Nick, it was as a quarterback, but somewhere along the way he had a revelation that he might be better suited to play defensive back, and we were fine with that." ... Is Marshall shrinking? He is listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds in the Auburn media guide but 6-1, 210 in this week's game notes.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

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 ...

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