ATLANTA - For sophomore defensive tackle Garrison Smith, Saturday's game against Georgia Tech was special for a couple of reasons.
One was the fact the former Douglass High star was able to step in for an injured DeAngelo Tyson, and came through with a career-best seven tackles to help the Bulldog defense hold the Yellow Jackets to 243 rushing yards, 80 below their season average.
The second was what the game meant to his family, including brother Greg Smith who lettered for the Yellow Jackets and graduated just two years ago.
"It was a very big game," Smith said. "Being that my brother played here, it just felt good to be able to play well there. It was just very important to me and my entire family. I count it as a blessing."
Smith also made one of the game's bigger defensive plays.
With Georgia Tech facing a third-and-goal from the Bulldog 2, it was Smith who broke through the Yellow Jacket offensive line to knock down quarterback Tevin Washington to force an early field goal instead of a potential game-tying touchdown.
"Somebody had to make a play, and I'm glad I was able to do my part," said Smith. "It was big, real big."
Smith may have the chance to make more big plays during Saturday's SEC Championship Game against LSU after replacing Tyson, who injured his ankle on the game's second play and did not return.
If so, Smith says he'll be ready.
"It was crazy," he said. "Coach (Rodney) Garner told me earlier this week that I was going to be the first one going in, so when (Tyson) went down, it was time to go. If I'm needed again, I'll be ready."
• The Bulldogs lost defensive end DeAngelo Tyson to an ankle injury on the game's second play.
He did not return and his status is unknown for Saturday's SEC title game.
Head coach Mark Richt said he could not tell how the injury occurred, but according to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, it came when Tech right guard Omoregie Uzzi was called for a chop block on the game's second play.
"What I see from my standpoint, there is such thing as a defenseless defensive player, too, and because a lot of teams don't run this type offense, it doesn't get the attention," Grantham said. "The big thing now is defenseless receivers, hits on quarterbacks and things like this. I thought the officials did a tremendous job but because of the style they play, there's borderline blocks every play, so what I'm saying is you've got to defend yourself. We told our guys you have to defend yourself every play. You can't get mad, but because of the style it is, you've got to be able to defend yourself, if not your going to get hurt. Unfortunately, one of our best players got hurt because of it."
•Running back Isaiah Crowell (ankle) dressed out, but did not play.
"Early in the week I was thinking he might make it, but as he attempted throughout the week it was pretty evident that he wasn't going to be able to go and be very effective," Richt said. "He has made progress, but hopefully he'll be ready to practice, maybe as early as Monday. I've got a feeling he'll be ready by the time the game rolls around, but I would like to see him practice a little bit."
Thomas back on the field
All week long, Richt remained vague whether or not Carlton Thomas would be back on the field following his suspension last week against Kentucky.
But on the Bulldogs' second offensive series, there he was, back in the game.
Thomas finished the game with five rushes for zero yards as Ken Malcome (12 rushes for 39 yards) and Branden Smith (five rushes for 20 yards) received most of the backfield carries.
"Coach Grantham volunteered to free him (B. Smith) up a little bit more to use as much as the offense wanted to and without disrupting what he wanted to do defensively," Richt said. "Because we were out of school, the 20-hour week did not apply, so we were able to get him a little extra work."
Zander Ogletree also had a carry for 21 yards, the first rushing attempt by a Georgia fullback this year.
"Coach (Bobby) Bowden would have been proud of me for that," Richt quipped. "He'd have been upset with me if I didn't let the fullback carry the ball at least one time this year."
This and That
In honor of legendary Bulldog play-by-play broadcaster Larry Munson, who passed away last Sunday, Georgia's players and coaches wore a special helmet decal today. The decal featured Munson with his headset along with "1922-2011" and "Hunker Down One More Time."
The Capital One and Chick-fil-A bowls were the only ones in attendance scouting the Bulldogs Saturday.
Offensive guard Dallas Lee (broken leg) attended Saturday's game, albeit with his foot still in a boot. Coaches feel Lee could be ready for Georgia's bowl game.
Georgia shut out Georgia Tech 7-0 in the first quarter. The Bulldogs have outscored its opponents 95-27 in the first quarter this season. The scoring came on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Michael Bennett to cap a 5-play, 76-yard drive in 3:13.
Tailback Ken Malcome made his first career start. Senior left tackle Cordy Glenn (LT) made his team-high 48th overall start including his 45th consecutive start. On defense, senior cornerback Brandon Boykin made his 36th career start including his 20th in a row.
Sophomore Alec Ogletree led the team with a career high 11 stops including 10 solo while sophomore Jarvis Jones had eight stops plus one sack. He has an SEC-best 13.5 sacks, just behind David Pollack's single-season Georgia record of 14.
The Bulldog defense allowed just 17 points to Tech's spread option attack as it ran 70 plays and gained 355 yards overall (243 rushing). Miami was the only team to hold Tech to fewer points this season in a 24-7 win.
Senior Blair Walsh now has made at least one field goal in 43 games in his career, tying the NCAA mark held by former Georgia kicker Billy Bennett (2000-03). Walsh made a 41-yarder to close out the first half. Walsh is 73-for-97 and has the most field goals, attempts and points of any active NCAA kicker.
Boykin began the second half with a 60-yard kickoff return to move into 2nd in SEC history for career kickoff return yards. It was his only return to give him 2,544 yards on 103 attempts for his career, both school records.