on October 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Georgia dodges Upset Saturday thanks to Brown, Miller

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Two seniors helped keep Georgia from joining the procession of upsets on an Upset Saturday when six Top 15 teams lost.

With a visit to Tennessee looming next week, the seniors’ timing could not have been better.

When it appeared to some they might be bound for diminished roles, tailback Thomas Brown and linebacker Brandon Miller proved in Georgia’s 45-17 victory over Mississippi that they are still vital to the Bulldogs’ season.

Georgia won big to move three spots to No. 12 in Sunday’s Top 25, but this was no blowout for three quarters. Ole Miss opened the second half with an 18-play touchdown drive for a 17-17 tie.

The leadership of Brown and Miller helped Georgia (4-1 overall, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) score the final 28 points.

Including West Virginia’s loss on Friday, seven of the top 13 teams lost, including SEC East rival Florida. The Gators’ loss to Auburn leaves Kentucky as the only Eastern Division team without a conference loss, opening the door for Georgia to recover from its loss to South Carolina.

Tennessee lost to Florida in its only conference game and will be looking to avoid an 0-2 start in the SEC.

Brown enjoyed the best day of his career, rushing for 180 yards and scoring three touchdowns. He posted the highest rushing total for a Georgia back in six years only days after coach Mark Richt fielded questions about why the senior was starting ahead of Knowshon Moreno, the team’s leading rusher.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford said Georgia needs Brown to remain in the SEC championship race.

“He’s doing a great job,” Stafford said. “People got kind of a glimpse of how special he was.”

Before Saturday, Moreno led the team with 342 yards rushing — all in a backup role to Brown, who had 213 yards. Brown averaged only 3.9 yards per carry in the first four games before breaking out with touchdown runs of 50, 4 and 41 yards.

Richt said he never wavered in his commitment to Brown as the starter.

“You want your leader as your starter,” Richt said. “You don’t want to change the chemistry of the football team by putting a freshman in.”

Part of Brown’s role is to serve as a mentor for Moreno.

“You know the young player is getting an education from the older player as to how he should conduct yourself and handle yourself in the future, so it’s exciting,” said running backs coach Tony Ball.

Richt said Brown is running with more confidence since returning from a knee injury that shortened his 2006 season.

“He seems more aggressive now,” Richt said. “More energy and agility. When he decides to have that burst when he has a little bit of room, I think he’s quicker.”

Brown posted the big numbers despite injuring his left shoulder late in the first half.

Said Richt of Brown’s big day: “He deserved it. It goes to show we’ve got two guys like that who can make plays.”

Miller also excelled with six tackles, including five solo stops, and an interception. His big day came only two games after he lost his job for one week to freshman Akeem Dent.

Miller helped Georgia’s defense recover to shut out Ole Miss after the Rebels’ long drive to open the second half.

“The coaches came in at halftime and told us they were running through our defense,” Miller said. “We wanted to try to shut them down the best we could in the second half.”

Miller recorded his first career interception early in the fourth quarter to give Georgia the ball at the Mississippi 22. The Bulldogs needed only three plays for Moreno to score for a 38-17 lead.

“Brandon did a beautiful job on that,” Richt said. “I think he played with the kind of emotion it takes to make plays like that. He really played well and did a great job leading for us.”