ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia Tech’s running game has struck fear into the hearts of defenses all season long, but it wasn’t the Yellow Jackets’ ground game that dominated the early going Saturday.
Georgia stole a page from Tech’s playbook, opening the game with 13 consecutive running plays. The Bulldogs’ first drive came completely on the ground, a 10-play, 74-yard bulldozing of the Tech defense capped by Caleb King’s 6-yard touchdown run.
While King capped the first touchdown drive, it was freshman Washaun Ealey who reaped the biggest benefits of the Bulldogs’ ground dominance.
Ealey’s 33-yard scamper on Georgia third drive of the game in the second quarter gave him 122 yards rushing on just eight carries. In doing so, he became the first Georgia tailback to top the century mark on the ground since Richard Samuel went for 104 against Arkansas in Week 3.
Big fuss over Russ
Georgia’s fill-in mascot drew a big crowd.
Russ, the older brother of Georgia’s late mascot, Uga VII, made his debut for Saturday night’s game at Georgia and was surrounded by photographers before the game.
Unlike Uga VII, who was a pure white English bulldog, Russ has a patch of brown on his back.
Russ may serve as the mascot in Georgia’s bowl game but will not be next in the line of full-time Uga mascots, owned by Sonny Seiler and his Savannah-based family. Seiler has said Uga VIII will be selected next year.
Russ was not the first fill-in mascot for Georgia. The most famous substitute was Otto, who had a 3-1 record in 1986 while filling in for his younger brother, Uga IV, who was injured.
Otto and Uga IV worked together in a win over Georgia Tech in 1986.
Uga VII died of heart problems on Nov. 19. Georgia had no mascot for last week’s home loss to Kentucky.
Getting a leg up
Georgia’s touchdown on its opening drive represented a dramatic change from the precedent the Bulldogs had set in recent weeks.
Aside from the Tennessee Tech game, Georgia had totaled just 10 first-quarter points in its past six games.
Goodbye to Willie?
Former Georgia defensive star David Pollack posted a Twitter message prior to Saturday’s game predicting defensive coordinator Willie Martinez would be stepping down.
“To all, It does appear that Willie Martinez will not be back next year. Will be an interesting next 46 hours to see what happens,” Pollack wrote.
Martinez has endured two years of swirling rumors and criticism as his defense has met with significant adversity during that span, allowing 34 points or more in 10 of its past 21 games entering Saturday’s contest.
The turnover battle
Reshad Jones’ second-quarter interception gave Georgia just its ninth takeaway of the season, but the Bulldogs once again missed out on another opportunity to pick up a loose ball. Roddy Jones recovered his own fumble near midfield in the first quarter — the 13th time this season an opponent has fumbled against Georgia. Of those 13 fumbles, however, Georgia has recovered just one — way back in Week 3 against Arkansas.
Receiver A.J. Green and safety Bacarri Rambo both missed their second straight game.
Rambo is still recovering from a concussion he suffered against Auburn, while Green is nursing a shoulder sprain.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.