ATHENS — Trent Dilfer is as good as reading football as anyone, and his takeaways leaving Sanford Stadium on Saturday night indicated as much.
Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning QB before his coaching career led him to UAB, exited with a 49-21 loss to No. 1-ranked Georgia.
The Blazers (1-3) made progress, according to first-year head coach Dilfer, but so did Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs (4-0).
“This is a new offensive coordinator (Mike Bobo), you don’t have preseason football, which is weird,” said Dilfer, who led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super XXXV title and passed for more than 20,000 yards in the NFL over his 14 seasons.
“So you use your first four games to kind of figure out who you are, and I think they figured out what their best stuff is: They are a run, run action team and get the ball to Brock (Bowers) as much as possible.”
Smart has said UGA is a “play-action shot team,” but the Bulldogs’ downfield receiving threats have been limited with Ladd McConkey sidelined and Carson Beck reluctant to push the ball downfield.
Dilfer’s description of UGA’s short pass and run game was the certainly the plan on Saturday. Bowers finished with 121 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 catches, gaining 110 of his yards after the catch.
Dilfer said he knew Beck from his time working with the Elite 11 in the high school circles, and he was impressed with him on Saturday.
“He’s grown up, he’s matured, (and) I thought he played with a great deal of poise,” Dilfer said of Beck, who was 22-of-32 passing for 338 yards with 3 touchdowns.
“It could have gotten ugly if those two deep balls are completed, (but) he’s got the physical traits to be successful. I thought they did a nice job of utilizing him.”
Dilfer was also pleased with his quarterback, Jacob Zeno, who actually played reserve snaps against Georgia while at Baylor in the Jan. 1, 2020 Sugar Bowl.
“Every quarterback that plays against that defense plays in a great deal of duress,” Dilfer said. “For the most part he had quiet eyes, executed at a high level, took what the defense gave him, avoided negative plays.
“You study that defense, they create a lot of negative plays, and he did not have a lot of them.”
Zeno was 32-of-51 passing for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns and he was intercepted once and sacked once.
Dilfer said Tykee Smith’s interception was simply “a heck of a play” that he knew Georgia’s defense was capable of.
“That’s what this defense does when they get their opportunities,” Dilfer said. “I showed the team a clip of them finishing. They finish as well as any team I’ve seen in college football.”
Dilfer made it clear UAB has work to do.
“I am pleased that our team is coming together, I am pleased that we got better, but I am extremely disappointed that we continue to make mistakes that beat ourselves.” Dilfer said.
“It was the most notes I’ve taken in a game in self-inflected wounds. Until we fix that, playing hard and coming together doesn’t matter that much — you’re not going to win games until you fix that.”