Georgia got off to a great start against Florida, scoring on a 75-yard touchdown run by Zamir White on the game’s opening play.
But from there it was almost all Florida, as the Gators picked up a 44-28 victory over the Bulldogs. The win drops Georgia to 4-2 on the season. The loss also gives Florida an inside track to the SEC East title. Georgia must win out and see Florida lose two of its final five games to get back to Alabama.
Georgia is back in action next week as it travels to Missouri.
Dan Mullen bests Kirby Smart
Much had been made about Mullen’s record as a head coach against Kirby Smart teams. Since Mullen took over at Mississippi State, he was 0-11 when Smart was on the opposing sideline.
But that narrative is dead, as Mullen emphatically bested Smart on Saturday.
Mullen’s offense torched Smart’s defense on Saturday, as the Gators scored 41 points and put up 566 yards on the Georgia defense.
Injuries were a factor sure, but Georgia lost the game for other reasons. Florida’s running backs caught 10 passes for 213 yards. That was a problem all game long.
It also didn’t help that Tyson Campbell just got beat twice in one-on-one situations for touchdowns. Or that Georgia had just a single sack, after coming into the game leading the conference in the stat.
The Georgia defense did hold Florida out of the end zone in the second half, but that could be chalked up to the Gators not having Kyle Pitts, who left the game after a vicious hit from Lewis Cine. In the first half, Pitts had two catches for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Mullen is praised for his offenses, and Smart has been praised for his defenses. But Saturday was just the latest example of how in the modern game, good offense beats good defense.
And that’s a big reason Mullen beat Smart.
The terrible, no good first half
As Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint looked poised to score, a Florida defender got him by ankles. The freshman wide receiver scored on the play to give Georgia a 14-0 lead and things seemed to be going great.
Until it became apparent that Rosemy-Jacksaint suffered a serious injury and would need to be carted off the field. Bennett took a shot on the play and hurt his collarbone as well.
And from that point on, almost nothing good happened for the Bulldogs. Aside from an Eric Stokes interception that he returned for a touchdown, Georgia couldn’t score and couldn’t stop Florida.
The Gators rolled up 38 points in the first half. In the previous three games Kirby Smart and Dan Mullen faced off as head coaches, Mullen’s teams scored a total of 37 points.
Kyle Trask threw for 341 yards in the first half and four touchdowns. He ended the game with a career-high 474 yards and four touchdowns. And it was the second time in three weeks that the Georgia defense gave up the most passing yards in a game it has under Smart.
Just an unmitigated disaster of a first half here for Georgia.
— Connor Riley (@Kconnorriley) November 7, 2020
For as good as Smart and his team looked against the Gators in the past three seasons, they just could not hang with Florida in the first half.
The end of the Stetson Bennett story
Stetson Bennett had a great start to the season, winning games for Georgia against Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee. But it appears the once-great story has reached its conclusion. And the ending was pretty rough.
The Georgia quarterback completed 5 of his 16 pass attempts for 78 yards and an interception. He did throw a touchdown in the game, but after throwing for 45 yards on those first two drives, he completed only 3 of his final 13 passes. His final pass was an interception, his sixth on the season.
After the play, Bennett had a conversation on the sideline with Smart where he appeared to understand why a change had to be made.
— Logan Booker (@LoganMBooker) November 7, 2020
D’Wan Mathis came in to replace Bennett in the game halfway through the third quarter. The redshirt freshman wasn’t much better as he went 4-for-13 for 34 yards while adding 15 yards on the ground. He did throw a touchdown but also tossed two interceptions.
The two Georgia quarterbacks were 9-of-29 for 112 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. That’s just not good enough, especially with Trask as a contrast.
It will be worth watching what Georiga does at the quarterback position going forward. JT Daniels did travel once again but did not play in the game. Coming out of this game, for all the concerns about the Georgia defense and its injuries, the biggest question is what the future of the quarterback position looks like?
Because if it continues on the trajectory of the past two seasons, Georgia can stop dreaming about making it back to the College Football Playoffs and its standing among the elite teams.
The injuries continue to pile up
We mentioned Rosemy-Jacksaint above. When Cine was ejected via targeting, he looked pretty dazed and confused. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he were concussed. Then in the third quarter, Georgia running back Kendall Milton left the game with a left leg injury after a 19-yard carry.
To top it all off, Cine’s replacement Major Burns left the game at the end of the third quarter.
Factor in that Georgia was without the likes of Richard LeCounte, Jordan Davis, Julian Rochester and George Pickens and the injury situation just gets direr by the week.
Georgia doesn’t play a team as good as Florida for the rest of the regular season. But with all the injuries mounting up for this Georgia team, maybe this opens the door for a team like South Carolina or Missouri to make what should be a UGA win into a more competitive game.
CBS did provide an update on LeCounte, saying they hope to have him back in four to five weeks. But with only four games left in the season, we may have seen the last of LeCounte.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Recap: Bulldogs bounced by Florida
- Georgia football podcast: Another layer of drama added to the JT Daniels story
- Georgia football: The Florida player to really worry about is ….
- Jordan Rodgers: Unraveling Georgia QB situation, offensive limitations, what could fix Bulldogs
- 3 things to know before betting UGA as a 3-point favorite vs. Florida
- ‘Weird moments’ pile up for Dan Mullen ahead of UGA showdown
- National media places fate of Georgia-Florida game on Stetson Bennett