Thursday November 26th, 2015 9:48PM

No. 6 Georgia to use freshmen TBs against Buffalo

By The Associated Press
ATHENS -- Mark Richt knows Georgia fans will be eager to see freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall when the No. 6 Bulldogs open their season against Buffalo on Saturday.

The coach promises fans will get their wish.

Gurley and Marshall, who signed from North Carolina high schools, are two of the biggest names in Georgia's 2012 freshman class. Another top freshman, John Theus, will start at right tackle and protect quarterback Aaron Murray.

The freshmen will play behind sophomore Ken Malcome, who has revived his career after quitting the team for one day last year because he didn't think he would play. Malcome will have to hold off the talented freshmen to keep the job.

"I think everybody wants to see them run the ball out there between the hedges when it counts in a real ballgame," Richt said of Gurley and Marshall. "There's no doubt they'll get in the game."

Many freshmen running backs struggle with pass-blocking, a skill few had to learn in high school. Richt said that will be a key for Gurley (6-1, 218) and Marshall (5-11, 216).

Murray, a junior who set a school record with 35 touchdown passes last season, is a big reason Georgia is expected to contend for a return trip to the Southeastern Conference championship game.

The Bulldogs won 10 games last season but have had a long offseason to remember losses to LSU in the SEC championship game and to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl.

Defensive tackle John Jenkins said the Bulldogs are motivated to take care of unfinished business.

"Yes, anybody who has been through a season like that, what happened with LSU, if you don't feel that way then you're not a competitor," Jenkins said. "With us having that type of season, the good things and ending with the bad things, losing the SEC championship and the bowl game, I feel like we have a lot of unfinished business. But we want to take it one game at a time."

Buffalo, from the Mid-American Conference, is coming off a 3-9 season that included a 41-10 loss at Tennessee. The Bulls have never beaten an SEC team.

"Really, we've got nothing to lose," said Jeff Quinn, who is beginning his third season as Buffalo's coach.

"We go down for the national exposure to play against a great team like Georgia. We know our focus is on this one particular game but also there are 11 other games. We're always talking to our kids about competing for the Mid-American Conference championship. This opportunity to play a great-caliber team like Georgia is going to give us some insight on where we're at, and also to be able to see some of our depth."

Buffalo is led by running back Branden Oliver, a junior who set a school record with 1,395 yards rushing in 2011. The Bulls' top linebacker, Khalil Mack, is suspended for one game for a violation of team rules.

"No question it hurts us," Quinn said. "He's one of our best players. But we've got to continue to move forward. We've got other guys like Willie Mosely and Ken Roberson. They've got to step up. It's a great lesson our kids have to understand. When there's a guy who gets hurt or is not able to compete in a game other kids have to be able to step up."

Georgia's depth on defense also will be tested by suspensions. Starting cornerback Sanders Commings and backup outside linebacker Chase Vasser will miss two games following offseason arrests.

Richt has not confirmed reports that safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree also will be suspended.

Even with the suspensions, defense is Georgia's strength. Rambo and outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who led the SEC with 13 1/2 sacks, were first-team All-America picks.

Georgia ranked fifth in the nation in total defense, and 23rd in scoring defense, while winning the SEC East. Nine starters return, but suspensions could cut heavily into that total.

"This defense can be one of the best in the country," said linebacker Michael Gilliard. "I'm not just saying that just because these are my teammates. With the scheme and the great coaches we have and the great players, we could definitely do some things this year."

A new name on defense will be cornerback Malcolm Mitchell, who was one of the team's top receivers as a freshman. Mitchell moved to defense in the spring to fill in for Commings and is expected to play on offense, defense and special teams as a return specialist on Saturday.

"How much offense he plays will be interesting to see," Richt said. "We'll see how the game progresses and see how he feels as we go, but we have a plan to use him in all areas."
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 2 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 2 years ago )
Tech's 2nd half surge beats Fordham 73-48
Daniel Miller and Robert Carter Jr. each scored 14 points and Georgia Tech scored 17 straight points in the second half en route to a 73-48 victory over Fordham on Saturday night.
10:17PM ( 2 years ago )
Djurisic's career night leads Dogs past Florida A&M
Nemanja Djurisic scored a career-high 21 points and Georgia won its third straight Saturday 82-73 over Florida A&M.
7:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Ga. Southern beats Ga. State, 68-64 in overtime
Eric Ferguson scored 24 points and Georgia Southern overcame a late double-digit deficit to beat Georgia State 68-64 in overtime on Saturday.
7:25PM ( 2 years ago )
College Sports
'Scary' Archer offers huge roadblock to Hawks' semifinal quest
It wasn't quite ‘The Exorcist,’ but all it took was one quick look at Archer's game film to make Mill Creek coach Shannon Jarvis shut his eyes and turn away.
9:20PM ( 28 minutes ago )
VIDEO: Races won, Champions crowned in NASCAR finales at Homestead
After 10 months, 35 races, nine elimination races, a lot of racing and just as much drama, it all came down to the final restart. Kyle Busch surged ahead of leader Brad Keselowski with just seven laps left in Sunday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
2:00PM ( 7 hours ago )
Girls basketball: West Hall closes Florida tourney with win
The West Hall girls basketball team notched a 53-42 win over TR Miller High of Brewton, Ala., on Wednesday in the Emerald Coast Thanksgiving Classic tournament in Ft. Walton Beach.
By AccessWDUN Staff
12:00PM ( 9 hours ago )
Pressure Cooker: SEC coaches face unyielding pressure to win
Georgia coach Mark Richt seems to be under constant scrutiny, and it has intensified since the Bulldogs (8-3) were knocked out of the title chase by rival Florida...
11:16AM ( 10 hours ago )
Mann, Frazier help Georgia hold off High Point 49-46
It's Thanksgiving not Halloween, but Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox was sure the Bulldogs were waking the dead with their 49-46 win over High Point Wednesday.
By The Associated Press
11:50PM ( 21 hours ago )