ATHENS, Ga. - One down and one to go.
Georgia is halfway through its late-season task of facing two triple-option offenses. The Bulldogs defeated Georgia Southern 45-14 Saturday at Sanford Stadium and will experience another afternoon of cut-blocking in the same locale when Georgia Tech visits next weekend.
"It was a lot of fun, sarcastically speaking," Bulldogs defensive lineman John Jenkins said. "I'm just glad I came out alive."
The Bulldogs allowed 302 rushing yards to the Eagles, matching the total GSU amassed in a 45-21 loss at Alabama last season, but Georgia did have one dominant stretch. In turning a 17-7 halftime lead into a 38-7 romp after the third quarter, Georgia held the Eagles to 12 rushes for 31 yards.
Georgia Southern rushed for 122 yards in the fourth quarter.
"I thought our guys did a good job of understanding what we had to do," Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "They opened with a formation that we had to adjust to, but once we did that and understood what was happening, it was pretty much over. We played pretty good, I thought, but we've got to be ready to play again next week."
The Eagles had a 55-yard touchdown drive that tied the game at 7 early in the second quarter, and they had a 54-yard drive later in the first half that did not produce points. Before coming away empty, the Eagles converted a fourth-and-1 at Georgia's 5-yard line, but left guard Trevor McBurnett was flagged for a chop block.
With the ball back to Georgia's 22, Alex Hanks missed a 39-yard field-goal try, leaving the chop block as a significant turning point.
"It's when you want to call it," Grantham said. "They called it right there, but if you watch tape, it's such a gray area and a fine line, and I think it's tough on officials as far as the human eye dealing with angles."
Said Jenkins: "I'm just glad the referee was paying attention to it, because something like that can get out of hand easily."
Georgia inside linebackers Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson combined for 21 tackles, three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. It was the first start of the season for Robinson, a fifth-year senior who according to Grantham is more suited to stop the triple-option.
"I think it was just how much I've played against this kind of offense," Robinson said. "I played a lot my redshirt sophomore year alongside Akeem Dent, and I've just played against it so long. People just have to realize that you have to knock them back and do your responsibility."
Junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones made six tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble several hours after being named one of four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, which is given to college football's top lineman or linebacker. The other finalists are Alabama center Barrett Jones, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
Jones had dreaded playing the triple-option but wasn't complaining.
"It wasn't that bad," he said. "I didn't get cut one time. I thought they were going to cut the mess out of me."