tampabay.com

Georgia's defense dominates again

By TIMES WIRES
Published September 17, 2006


ATHENS, Ga. - The way Georgia's defense is playing, Matthew Stafford can take his time learning what it takes to be a successful quarterback.

The freshman scored a touchdown in his first start Saturday, but it was the guys on the other side of the line who made sure there was no pressure on him.

With a 34-0 rout of UAB, Georgia put up its second straight shutout, the first time that has happened since 41-0 over Vanderbilt and 27-0 over Kentucky in 1980, when it won the national title.

"Those boys are playing lights out," center Nick Jones said. "We see them in practice every day, so we know they're good."

The defense made things easy for Stafford, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 107 yards and powered into the end zone on a 4-yard run in the fourth. He broke a couple of tackles and dived across with another defender wrapped around his feet.

"There wasn't any big stress or big burden on me," said Stafford, who took over the No. 1 job after senior Joe Tereshinski severely sprained his ankle last week. "It's just fun to be playing on Saturday."

UAB managed 163 yards against a defense that shut out South Carolina 18-0 the previous week. Its deepest drive was to the Georgia 36, where it was snuffed out on downs.

The Bulldogs went straight down the field on their first possession, taking advantage of a 26-yard punt return by Thomas Flowers to the UAB 44. Stafford completed three consecutive passes. UAB was called for a personal foul, and Kregg Lumpkin finished it off with an 8-yard run around right end.

Flowers, who returned from a two-game suspension, hurt his foot later in the game. His status is unknown.

Up 13-0 in the third, Georgia sealed it. Prince Miller broke through to smother a punt by Parker Mullins. C.J. Byrd scooped it up on one hop and sped to the end zone.

Arkansas 21, Vandy 19: Mitch Mustain threw three touchdowns for the visiting Razorbacks.

Mustain, who last week became Arkansas' first freshman to win his first start, was 13-of-20 for 224 yards and on his first series hit Marcus Monk on a 56-yard touchdown that tied it at 7. He also hit Felix Jones for a 21-yard touchdown and Ben Cleveland on a 15-yarder that put Arkansas up 21-13 with 1:32 left in the third.

The Commodores responded 3:14 later on quarterback Chris Nickson's 15-yard run. But his two-point conversion was intercepted, and Bryant Hahnfeldt's 48-yard field goal with 55 seconds left fell short.