Photo by Corinne Nicholson
ATHENS -- The continuing saga involving the NCAA's investigation of several of the nation's top players' possible involvement with agents took another turn Saturday with A.J. Green being held out of Georgia's opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Bulldog junior's name came up over the summer when news broke of an offseason party attended by several big-name players like North Carolina's Marvin Austin.
While Green, who led the Bulldogs with 53 receptions for 808 yards and six TDs last year, has repeatedly denied receiving any benefits from agents or even attending the party, he was held out against the Ragin' Cajuns.
"University of Georgia junior wide receiver A.J. Green will miss Saturday's game against the University of Louisiana (Lafayette) pursuant to UGA Athletic Association policy and pending a ruling from the NCAA clarifying his status," read a statement released by the university prior to the game.
With Green out off the lineup, senior Kris Durham became the go-to receiver for redshirt freshman Aaron Murray in his first game as Georgia's starting quarterback.
Durham had a team-high five receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown while wearing uniform No. 31 instead of his customary No. 16.
It was to honor senior safety Quintin Banks, who is unable to play this year due to injury. Each game, a senior will wear Banks' No. 31, with Durham being the first Saturday.
"It's bigger than the game," Durham said of the tribute. "That's our brother. We're just trying to honor him the best way we know how."
The 55 points put up by the Bulldogs that set a record for the most in a season opener in Mark Richt's tenure as coach were also the most since beginning the 1998 campaign with a 56-3 win over Kent State. The most they ever scored under Richt came in a 62-17 win over Kentucky in 2004.
Mason makes history
With his 26-yard touchdown pass to Logan Gray late in the third quarter, true freshman Hutson Mason became just the eighth quarterback in Division I-A history to throw for a score on his first collegiate pass. The last to do it was Keith Poston of Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl against Mississippi on Jan. 2.
After making an appearance on the opening kickoff, as a wide receiver on offense and his usual spot at cornerback, sophomore Branden Smith became the first Georgia player in 12 years to start a game on offense, defense and special teams.
The last Bulldog to do so was Champ Bailey, who started five games in such fashion during his senior season in 1998.
Norcross grad Fred Munzenmaier was one of four seniors chosen as game captains by the Bulldogs for Saturday's opener.
The 6-foot-2, 240 pounder was joined by fellow senior fullback Shaun Chapas, cornerback Vance Cuff and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs.
"That was pretty awesome," Munzenmaier said. "It's an honor. For some reason, it's something I never really thought about. But it means so much to me. It's one of the biggest honors of the season."
Munzenmaier lived up to his reputation as Georgia's Mr. Touchdown, catching a 1-yard TD pass from Murray late in the third quarter.
It was the fifth touchdown of his career -- the first through the air -- in 23 combined carries and receptions.
That means nearly a quarter of Munzenmaier's career touches have wound up in the end zone, though that ratio took a bit of a hit after he had six more carries following the touchdown.