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Georgia football gets creative and back to basics in rushing game turnaround against Auburn

Lost somewhat amongst all the concerns about the Georgia quarterback battle was how ineffective the Georgia rushing attack was against Arkansas. In the first 30 minutes of the game, Georgia’s running backs had just 27 rushing yards. For the game, the group had just 121 total rushing yards.

So some small tweaks needed to be made. Kirby Smart joked that the Wizard of Oz came and visited the offensive line before chalking up the improvement to better execution.

“The Wizard of Oz came and saw them and gave them all courage and ability and they played better,” Smart said. “They’re the same guys, guys. It’s not any different. I attributed it to the fact that we didn’t have a ton of penalties although we had too many and we didn’t turn the ball over.”

There was one small adjustment to the group as Warren McClendon was inserted into the starting line-up at right tackle. But due to some second-half cramps, Owen Condon also played significant snaps in the second half.

Then the Bulldogs thought bigger when it came to the short-yardage situations. Todd Monken sprinkled in Jordan Davis at tight end and Jalen Carter at fullback in Georgia’s goalline situations. With the two 300-pounders in the game, Zamir White had no problem getting into the end zone for two first-half touchdowns.

Smart revealed that Todd Monken came up with the idea, in part because of his NFL background. It helps when Carter and Davis are also great athletes for their massive size.

“We’ve had it in for a while and thought we would use it when we needed to,” Smart said.  “I thought Monken and the offensive staff did a good job developing that package.”

In the opening 30 minutes against Auburn, the Bulldogs ran for 130 yards. For the game, Georgia ran for 202 yards, whereas Auburn finished with just 39 rushing yards for the game.

“We just took it personally,” White said. “We just have that mindset to put it all on the line for you, for your brother, for your coaches. Just go out there and take care of the football.”

White was the leading ball carrier for the Bulldogs, as he ran the ball 19 times for 88 yards. But much of his work came in the first half, as he ran the ball 17 times for 76 yards. He also had those two touchdowns as well.

“It felt great. I want to thank my team, my linemen. When I put my effort in there, things just come together,” White said of making his first career start in Sanford Stadium.

With Georgia trying to watch White’s workload and a first-half wrist injury to James Cook, Georgia turned to some of its younger running backs in the second half to ice the game away.

Kenny McIntosh, Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards all logged key carries for Georgia, and the trio finished the game with a combined 19 carries for 86 yards. For Milton and Edwards, this was their first time rushing under the Sanford Stadium lights.

“They’re both going to be great backs. They’re smart and they listen,” White said. “They love football. I don’t got no worries about them, they’re going to be real good.”

Smart indicated after the game that both Cook and McClendon were fine and that they could’ve re-entered the game if needed be. But if the group of running backs and offensive linemen continue to play as they did against Auburn, it may not matter for the Bulldogs.

Georgia football running back Zamir White recaps two-touchdown performance

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