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Kirby Smart and Natrez Patrick have some work to do after Georgia's loss to LSU.

Winners and Losers from Georgia’s disappointing loss at LSU

Connor Riley

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Winners and loser from Georgia football’s game against LSU

Loser: Jake Fromm, sophomore quarterback

We’re not going to get into the larger quarterback discussion and what might happen with Justin Fields. We’re just going to focus on what happened this past Saturday. And in the LSU game, Jake Fromm was just not good enough.

The stat line wasn’t good (16 of 34 for 209 yards and interception) and watching the game, it felt like an even worse performance. The biggest concern was just how inaccurate he was, because he’s normally one of the most accurate quarterbacks in all of college football. Sure the performance wasn’t all on him. Georgia’s receivers struggled to get open for most of the day, and Georgia likely would’ve benefitted had Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift gotten more carries.

Kirby Smart did defend Fromm after the game and the Georgia coach made some interesting points. DawgNation’s Mike Griffith recapped what Smart had to say about Fromm, which you can read by clicking here. 

But while the final score might show a blowout, there was a chance in the fourth quarter where Georgia could’ve made it a game. Down 19-9 and the ball on the LSU 34, Georgia faced a critical third and 6. Georgia was in field goal range for Rodrigo Blankenship. The one thing Fromm couldn’t do is take a sack. But he did, despite having an opportunity to throw the ball away. Georgia punted, LSU then scored on the next drive and Georgia never got closer than that to make it a game. The loss isn’t all on Fromm, but Georgia needed him to be better than he was on Saturday.

Winner: Elijah Holyfield, junior running back

It might be hard to want to try and find winners after a performance against LSU, but not everyone had a bad game. Elijah Holyfield had about as good of a game as you could on just seven carries. He finished the game with 56 yards and a touchdown, Georgia’s only one on the day.

Related: Georgia’s heralded rushing attack went AWOL in loss to LSU

He averaged 8.0 yards per carry against a pretty stout LSU defense. While many may not have anticipated him to be Georgia’s best running back at the beginning of the season, he’s proven so far that when Georgia needs to get three yards, he’s the man for the job. On the season, Holyfield is averaging 7.5 yards per carry, yet he has just 65 carries. That’s not even 10 per game. While some fans might want to see other players on Georgia’s offense get the ball more, Holyfield has made a pretty strong case that he’s someone who should get some more touches.

Loser: Georgia’s run defense

Roquan Smith somehow looks even better now that he’s not playing for Georgia. LSU seemed to burst off long run after long run on Saturday, as the Tigers finished the game with 275 rushing yards. That’s the second most in the Kirby Smart era, just one yard short of the 276 yards Louisiana-Lafayette ran for in what was a Georgia win in 2016.

The biggest problem right now is that other than D’Andre Walker, who left the field with an injury at the end of the game, there isn’t a true every-down difference maker like there was a season ago. In addition to losing Smith, Georgia also is missing the efforts of guys like John Atkins, Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter. And to quote Rick Pitino, “None of those guys are walking through the door.”

Georgia could turn to some freshmen like Channing Tindall, Quay Walker or Jordan Davis for more reps, but is that really an answer, given that coaching staff should know what they have in those guys? While a lot of people will want to call out the offense after the LSU game, Georgia’s run defense might be the far greater concern for a team with aspirations of winning the SEC and earning a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Winner: Deandre Baker, senior cornerback

The LSU offense made a big effort to go after Georgia freshman Tyson Campbell and it largely worked. The reason LSU decided to do that it is because Baker was on the other side of the field. Baker had two more pass deflections and did nothing to lose his claim as the top defensive back in the country. While Baker’s other competitor for that honor, LSU’s Greedy Williams, also had a strong day, Baker was one of the few defenders on Georgia’s team to live up to the Georgia standard against LSU.

Loser: The Georgia standard

In the Smart era, Georgia has made it a point to a. run the ball, b. stop the run and c. win on special teams. On Saturday, LSU was better at all three of those things. While not every big Georgia game is going to be played in Death Valley, the Bulldogs just can’t lose in all three aspects like it did against the Tigers. The fake field goal was just dumb and Jake Camarda did not have a good day punting the ball. We’ve already highlighted the run defense’s bad day and as far as rushing the ball, if you remove Fromm’s rushing attempts and the fake field goal, Georgia averaged 5.87 yards per carry, more than what LSU did.

Georgia has built itself into a juggernaut because it’s been able to do succeed in all three phases. That’s what makes Saturday’s loss so disappointing. It’s not about the quarterback situation or the play calling. It’s that LSU was able to beat Georgia by doing what Georgia does, only doing it better for all four quarters. If that combination of events happens again this season, Georgia won’t be winning the SEC or playing in the College Football Playoff, regardless of if it’s Fromm or Fields under center.

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