Receivers make strides for Dogs

Receivers make strides for Dogs

September 19th, 2011 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia flanker Tavarres King, right, stretches for a first down while being tackled by Coastal Carolina defensive tackle Chad McField during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Athens, Ga.

Photo by (AP Photo by Erik S. Lesser)

Georgia has improved in every area since its opener against Boise State, and nowhere is that more evident than at receiver.

Marlon Brown's two catches for 15 yards and Tavarres King's one catch for 3 yards comprised Georgia's woeful totals from the receiver position through the first three quarters of its 35-21 loss to the Broncos. Since then, King, Michael Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell have combined for 29 receptions for 328 yards and six touchdowns to rejuvenate an aerial attack that is overcoming the departure of A.J. Green.

King, Bennett and Mitchell combined for 16 catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns in Saturday's 59-0 shellacking of Coastal Carolina. King has three scoring receptions in three games, while Mitchell and tight end Orson Charles each have two.

"I really don't know what it was in that first game," Bennett said. "We always have the potential to make plays. We did mess up a little bit against Boise State, but we came back with a focus in that South Carolina game. We just had a determination that we would turn it around."

Said King: "We've got five or six guys now who can make a play, and that has not been the case in years past."

New to the mix are Bennett, a redshirt freshman, and Mitchell, a true freshman. The pair combined for eight catches against South Carolina and 10 against the Chanticleers.

"They are tough kids," coach Mark Richt said. "They showed up tough, and I like the way they've practiced and I like the way they've competed."

The Bulldogs hope to notch a second straight win this week when they visit Ole Miss, which is coming off a 30-7 loss at Vanderbilt. The Rebels are 1-9 in their last 10 SEC games and are 5-10 overall since winning consecutive Cotton Bowls in Houston Nutt's first two seasons.

"What I have done in the past is really just hunker down with the coaches and the players," Nutt told reporters Sunday. "You hang on the rope together. You tie a knot on the rope together and hang on it together and believe that there will be some good things to happen to us."

Nutt said Zack Stoudt, who threw five interceptions in Nashville, would start again this week.

East bouncing back?

After going 3-16 last season against West Division teams, the East Division is 1-0 after Vanderbilt's romp. The East has three 3-0 teams -- Florida, South Carolina and Vandy -- which equals the West and its undefeated trio of Alabama, Arkansas and LSU.

"Florida certainly isn't down," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday. "Vandy's not down. Kentucky, well, I'm not sure how they're doing right now. Tennessee actually played pretty well most of the time in that game, and Georgia has got an excellent team."

Odds and ends

Georgia is the only SEC team to record a shutout each of the past three seasons -- Tennessee Tech in 2009, Vanderbilt last year and Coastal Carolina on Saturday. ... Senior kicker Blair Walsh has 327 career points, which ranks 10th in league history. ... Richt hopes to have Brown, tailback Richard Samuel, guard Kenarious Gates and defensive end DeAngelo Tyson back this week. ... Georgia's Oct. 1 home game with Mississippi State is expected to have a lunchtime kick since CBS owns the window rights for its lone day-night doubleheader of the season.