The game turned on the play of the quarterbacks -- Georgia’s D.J. Shockley, who could have dozens of messages from professional agents on his answering machine by Monday, and Boise State’s Jared Zabransky, who could have just as many from psychiatrists.
“Shockley, of course, is a story tonight,” Coach Mark Richt said after his quarterback set a school record by being responsible for six touchdowns.
Making his first start four years after he signed with the Bulldogs, Shockley was stellar, completing 16 of 24 passes for 289 yards and a school-record-tying five touchdowns. He rushed five times for 85 yards and another score, while playing just three quarters.
“This exceeded my expectations by about 20 times,” he said. “I never imagined it would be huge like this.”
Zabransky, who led the Western Athletic Conference in passing efficiency last year and was the league’s preseason offensive player of the year this year, was responsible for six turnovers, four interceptions and two fumbles, before being yanked prior to halftime. He had 70 yards passing.
“He doesn’t feel too good,” Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said. “You wouldn’t feel too good either if you turned it over that many times.”
It got so bad for Zabransky that Georgia safety Greg Blue said it “hurt” him to see the junior taken out of the game.
“That’s hard on a person right there,” Blue said. “That’s real hard. It surprised me when I saw that backup quarterback come in.”
Now the Bulldogs will prepare for Steve Spurrier’s first trip to Athens since his Florida Gators won 52-17 in 1995. Spurrier now coaches South Carolina, which Georgia will play at 5:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.
“He has a long history (of success) with Georgia football,” defensive tackle Gerald Anderson said. “Hopefully, this year it’s going to end.”
The fact that Shockley’s performance came against a pass defense that was ranked No. 99 in the country last year didn’t dampen the enthusiasm much in the Georgia locker room. He completed 12 of his final 13 passes before taking a seat following a 5-yard scoring pass to Sean Bailey with 2:47 left in the third quarter. That put the Bulldogs ahead 45-7.
“It’s a pretty good example of what he can do,” Richt said. “He’s still not as settled as people might think. There were times he could have placed the ball better. Hopefully, when he really gets comfortable, we’ll see more good things from him.”
The Broncos would settled for any good thing from Zabransky after his performance. The quarterback gave the ball away on six of his team’s first eight possessions.
Boise State led the nation in scoring last year with 48.9 points per game, but, in Willie Martinez’s first game as defensive coordinator, the Bulldogs gave up the Broncos’ fewest points since a 2001 loss to South Carolina.
The Broncos, who had three turnovers in the first quarter, didn’t score until Lee Marks had a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:11 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs, who led 24-0 at halftime and 31-0 after the first drive of the second half, had put the game away by that time.
“If we don’t make any mistakes,” Blue said, “we’re going to win a lot of game this year.”