Arizona State’s defensive back took that as an invitation to talk some trash. Green took it as an opportunity to show defensive backs that he doesn’t enjoy trash talk.
The freshman wide receiver decimated the Sun Devils’ secondary throughout the first half of Saturday’s 27-10 Georgia victory, connecting with Stafford for seven catches and 150 yards by halftime.
“He was talking a little trash, so I had to step my game up,” Green said. “I’m not a trash talker, I just let my skills do the talking for me.”
Those skills helped Green rack up the most yards by a Georgia receiver in five years, while becoming the Bulldogs’ first 100-yard pass catcher since Kenneth Harris tallied 106 yards against Mississippi State in 2006.
A large contingent of Georgia fans boosted the crowd to nearly 73,000 at Sun Devil Stadium – the largest crowd for Arizona State in 17 years. Stafford and Green made sure the Bulldogs fans who made the trip didn’t leave disappointed.
“I was excited. I turned into a fan watching almost,” wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said of Green’s performance. “The guy oozes talent. When you have a player like that, he’s young but at the same time, he’s a competitor. He wants to go out there and win, and he has special abilities.”
Stafford completed 16-of-28 passes in the game for 285 yards, setting a new career high. It was Stafford’s third 200-yard passing game this season, and he has yet to throw an interception.
On Georgia’s third scoring drive – just before halftime – Stafford and Green demolished the Sun Devils’ secondary. Stafford hit Green on consecutive plays – a 23- and 31-yard gain, respectively – before Knowshon Moreno got a touch. Stafford threw incomplete to Shaun Chapas on the next play, then went back to his favorite target, finding Green for a touchdown between two defenders in the end zone. Of the 70 yards the Bulldogs covered on the drive, Green accounted for 68.
“They never told me the ball was going to come to me, but Stafford, he’s just got confidence in me,” Green said. “He’s just throwing the ball my way, and I’m catching it.”
Despite the aerial acrobatics, tailback Knowshon Moreno didn’t completely miss out on the fun. As the Arizona State defense keyed in on Green in the second half – holding him to just one catch – Georgia’s running game took over.
Moreno racked up 150 yards on 23 carries, and added to his ever-expanding highlight reel with a 4-yard leap into the end zone to cap Georgia’s first scoring drive. Moreno scored twice in the game and had three yards of 20 yards or longer behind a new-look offensive line that featured a different started at all five positions than what the Bulldogs had opened with in their first three games.
“We had a lot of long plays,” right guard Chris Davis said. “If it’s 20-plus, every offensive lineman has a hat on someone they’re supposed to.”
While the changes on the offensive line were the primary concern for the Bulldogs before the game, the lack of a pass rush from the defensive ends was a close second.
The Bulldogs’ defense, however, answered those questions Saturday. Defensive ends Demarcus Dobbs, Justin Houston and Andrew Gully all recorded sacks in the game – doubling the sack total from Georgia defensive ends from the first three games. Georgia dropped Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter four times overall.
“As the game went on, we got more and more pressure on him,” Dobbs said. “It’s a good feeling, but we knew we had it in us to do it.”
Carpenter had his moments of success in the game, completing 23-of-36 passes for 208 yards in the game, but that was the extent of Arizona State’s offense. The Bulldogs’ run defense was stingy once again. A week after holding South Carolina to 1.1 yards per carry on the ground, the Sun Devils were only able to net four yards rushing in the game.
“We did a good job of making them one-dimensional, and once you do that, you play a lot better knowing that the pass is going to come,” cornerback Asher Allen said.