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Eric Stokes and the Georgia secondary had a tough day on Saturday.

Georgia football winners and losers following 41-24 defeat to Alabama

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Georgia football winners and losers following loss to Alabama

Loser: Georgia secondary

Georgia has NFL level talent in its secondary. Between the likes of Richard LeCounte, Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, there is a lot of talent in Georgia’s defensive backfield with the potential to play on Sundays.

And they’ll be playing against guys like Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. On Saturday night, the latter two took turns torching the Georgia secondary.

The two combined for 17 catches, 328 yards and three touchdowns. The Bulldogs couldn’t cover them.

The two could’ve had even better numbers if they hadn’t drawn penalties —though some were dubious at best — on the Georgia defenders.

“Guys weren’t able to run with Waddle, so they reached out and grabbed him instead of putting their hands on him and stopping him,” Smart said. “That was huge.”

The good news for Georgia is that it won’t see two wide receivers as good as Waddle or Smith for the rest of the season.

The bad news is that the likes of Stokes, Campbell and LeCounte are probably going to see Smith and Waddle again if the Bulldogs advance to the SEC championship game.

It’s a tough ask to hold up over the course of the game against those two. But if Georgia’s secondary is as good as we believe it to be, it has to play better against Waddle and Smith.

Winner: Georgia running backs

Georgia’s running back showed well on Saturday. And it wasn’t just one player, as the Bulldogs got meaningful contributions from the likes of Zamir White, James Cook and Kendall Milton.

White had a bounce-back game after struggling against Tennessee. He led Georgia in rushing with 57 yards on 10 carries.

Milton had another strong game, as he ran for 44 yards on six carries. With Georgia now getting its off week, it will be worth monitoring how much more involved he will be.

Cook meanwhile had his best game as a Bulldog. He ran for 16 yards on five carries but added 101 yards on four receptions. He also had Georgia’s longest offensive play of the year, as he connected with Stetson Bennett for an 82-yard touchdown pass.

Georgia seems to have real depth and weapons at the running back position. Perhaps that makes it all the more interesting that after Alabama took a 27-24 lead with 4:00 left to go in the third quarter, the Bulldogs only had three designed runs for the rest of the game.

All in all, it was another encouraging night for the Georgia running backs. And whoever ends up as Georgia’s quarterback going forward will have options to work with.

Loser: Georgia’s pass rush

When Nakobe Dean walloped Mac Jones with 9:14 in the third quarter, he picked up Georgia’s third sack of the night and forced an Alabama punt. The hit stalled an Alabama drive and got Georgia the ball back with the lead.

But that ended up being the last sack of the night for the Bulldogs. And when Georgia gave Alabama quarterback Mac Jones time, he picked them apart. He ended up throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns.

And the three ensuing drives after that Dean sack, Alabama went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown.

“I didn’t think we converted to pass rush really well,” Smart said. “We were hunkered down trying to stop the run and when we did pressure, it didn’t get home. And the kid made some really good throws.”

Smart made it very clear in the run-up to the game how he felt against Alabama’s offensive line. Over the course of the night, they got better and better and ultimately wore down the Georgia defensive front.

If the Bulldogs get to face Alabama for a second time, it will need the pass rush to play better or at the very least a more complete game. If it does that, it should help out the Georgia secondary.

Winner: Fans of a quarterback controversy 

For those who weren’t sold on Bennett being the guy for Georgia, Saturday night is probably what you wanted. The Georgia quarterback, who hadn’t turned the ball over in the first three games, threw three interceptions against Alabama.

Two of those interceptions were thrown on Alabama’s side of the field, ending possible scoring drives. The third was on the opening play of the fourth quarter and gave the Crimson Tide a short field for their final touchdown of the night.

“You have to grow and get better,” Smart said The experience in the game tonight will be invaluable for him throughout the rest of the run on the road. He’s a work in progress just like our team is. He’s going to grow and develop.”

“As far as our team goes, No. 1 we turned it over. You can’t do that and beat good teams.”

Due to a change in the Georgia schedule, the Bulldogs will now have this coming week off. That gives the Bulldogs an extra week to examine the quarterback position. Was Saturday night just one bad game by Bennett, or definitive proof that he cannot lead Georgia to a win over Alabama?

Many in the national media have called to see JT Daniels. The USC transfer quarterback has yet to throw a snap in a game for Georgia after he was cleared for the Bulldogs game against Auburn. But in recent photos put out by Georgia, Daniels has been practicing without a knee brace.

Kentucky’s defense is no joke, as it has the second-most interceptions in the SEC with nine. Is that the game where you want to break-in a new quarterback? Or will it be a chance for Bennett to prove that Saturday was just one bad performance and not something indicative of something more troubling?

Loser: Georgia sports fans

Just a brutal Georgia sports weekend. A classic Georgia sports weekend. A miserable Georgia sports weekend.

The Bulldogs dropped a third straight game to Alabama, this time getting shutout in the second half.

The Atlanta Braves went on to blow a 3-1 series lead when they were a game away from advancing to the World Series. Even worse, they got out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, only to lose 4-3. Had the Braves won, they would’ve advanced to their first World Series since 1999.

Not helping matters, the Atlanta Falcons got their first win on Sunday, moving to 1-5 on the season. Meanwhile, the New York Jets lost once again, putting them in prime position to land Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Sports bring almost nothing but pain. Fans of Georgia sports teams have become accustomed to this. But the results of this weekend felt especially cruel.

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