Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Georgia's Caleb King (4) breaks a tackle by Louisiana-Lafayette's Maurice Rolle (36) for a touchdown on Saturday in Athens. King, a former standout at GAC and Parkview, helped the Bulldogs to a season-opening rout of the Ragin' Cajuns.
ATHENS -- Yes, it's only one game, and it was only against Sun Belt Conference member Louisiana-Lafayette.
However, the two biggest areas of concern for the Georgia Bulldogs heading into the 2010 season couldn't have passed their first tests any better.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray completed 17 of 26 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns, while the new 3-4 Georgia defense stifled the Ragin' Cajuns throughout the day and the Bulldogs cruised to a 55-7 win Saturday before an announced sellout crowd of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium.
The 55 points rolled up by Murray and the offense were the most by a Georgia (1-0) team in a season opener in head coach Mark Richt's tenure.
Meanwhile, the new defensive alignment under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham also proved successful, holding Louisiana-Lafayette (0-1) to 128 total yards and just five first downs while intercepting two different Ragin' Cajun quarterbacks a total of three times.
"One of the highlights for me was just how the defense played," Richt said. "I thought they got after it. Very few mental errors that I could see. ... For the most part, kept a good edge on them."
But the day belonged to Murray, who was under a microscope from the sellout crowd in his first start, and the offense despite the absence of two of its biggest playmakers -- receiver A.J. Green (pending an NCAA investigation into whether or not he accepted benefits from an agent) and running back Washaun Ealey (suspended after an on-campus arrest late last month).
Murray didn't disappoint, with his strong completion rate, plus 42 yards on four carries.
"It's great to get that first one out of the way and get a win under our belt for this team," Murray said. "(The next step is) to keep getting better. There's definitely enough to improve on. It was my first college game, so there's definitely a lot more for me to learn. ... My goal is to keep learning week in and week out."
Murray and the offense gave ULL an education most of the afternoon.
After Georgia's opening drive produced only one first down, Caleb King finally got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard late in the first quarter.
The former GAC and Parkview standout capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive by bursting up the middle and breaking a couple of tackles. King's 20-yard touchdown run put Georgia up 7-0 with exactly three minutes left in the quarter.
It didn't take the Bulldogs long to put more points on the board.
A Brandon Boykin interception of Ragin' Cajuns quarterback Chris Masson set Georgia up at the ULL 28-yard line.
Five plays later, Murray connected on the first scoring pass of his career as Kris Durham made a diving catch in the left corner of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown, stretching the lead to 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter.
It was part of a huge day for Durham, who led the Bulldogs with five receptions for 83 yards and stepped up and contributed in the absence of Green.
"A.J. is a big part of our offense," Durham said. "With him not out there, someone had to step up. It looks like we had a lot of guys contribute today."
Another defensive stop and a 31-yard punt return by Branden Smith helped set up more Georgia points.
This time, a 52-yard field goal by Blair Walsh increased the Bulldogs' lead to 17-0 with 11:21 left in the first half.
Murray began to show off his arm late in the half.
The redshirt freshman showed perfect touch on a deep ball that Durham grabbed for a 41-yard gain down to the ULL 13.
Two plays later, Murray hit Shaun Chapas with a swing pass out of the backfield that the senior fullback turned into an 11-yard touchdown to make it 24-0 with 3:31 left in the half.
The Bulldogs only had one real mistake in the first half, and ULL made them pay.
Murray put a pass right on the money to Durham at the Cajuns' 40, but the senior split end had the ball bounce off his hands, allowing a tight-covering Lance Kelley to pick off the pass.
On the next snap, Masson hooked up with a wide-open Ladarius Green for a 60-yard scoring strike with 1:12 left in the half, pulling ULL to within 24-7.
But Murray helped Georgia get those points right back with the help of his legs before halftime.
First, he avoided a heavy rush and completed a 22-yard pass to tight end Orson Charles to the ULL 28.
Then, three plays after getting a reprieve as Kelley dropped another sure interception in the end zone, Murray scrambled again.
This time, he kept the ball and clipped the pylon at the right corner of the end zone as time expired to push Georgia's lead to 31-7 heading into intermission.
"It felt good," Murray said of the response to the Cajuns' touchdown. "You may have felt the momentum switch a little bit, but to come back and score like that was really great for our team heading into halftime."