There will be lots and lots of talk this week about the Georgia quarterback position and how Stetson Bennett needs to play on Saturday against the No. 8 Florida Gators.
But no matter how Georgia’s quarterback plays, they’re not going to be able to win — or lose — the game on their own. They’ll need to rely on the likes of their ground game and offensive line.
And those two units are coming off their best game of the season.
The Bulldogs ran for 215 yards on 43 carries on Saturday. It was the most yards the Bulldogs had rushed for in a game while also posting a season-best 5.00 yards per carry.
Bennett was also kept clean as he was not sacked, a first this season for Georgia.
So while the questions surrounding the quarterback play are louder than ever, there’s growing confidence in how the rest of the team is playing.
“I’m real confident because I see what we do every day in practice with Stetson, the linemen and everybody else,” running back Zamir White said. “So I’m real confident in the whole offense.”
White posted a career-best 136 yards on Saturday, with 22 of those coming on a touchdown run to cap off Georgia’s opening drive of the second half. He’s now got six rushing touchdowns on the season, which ranks third in the conference.
The redshirt sophomore running back looked like the player many thought he would be when he first signed with Georgia as a 5-star signee in the 2018 signing class. Two knee injuries stalled his progress, but he assured reporters that he now feels faster and more explosive than the player he was pre-injury.
“He’s getting more comfortable with our run-game,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We’re probably doing a better job putting a hat on a hat. When you have the run-game you have you get better at it as you do it. Now, teams get better at defending you as you do it as well, so you have to decorate it different ways.
“I think we’ve gotten better in the run-game because we’re running similar runs and carrying them over from week to week.”
White wasn’t the only Georgia running back to find success last week, as James Cook had 39 yards on six carries, with Kendall Milton adding 31 yards on eight attempts.
The Georgia offensive line looked to finally solidify, even after Ben Cleveland left the game with an injury. He’s expected to be fine for Saturday’s game.
The offensive line had to replace a lot with Andrew Thomas, Solomon Kindley and Isaiah Wilson all getting drafted and Cade Mays heading to Tennessee. The group didn’t get off to a great start against Arkansas but has improved every week.
So much so that the group feels comfortable being asked to pave the way to victory when needed.
“We take pride in being physical. When the game come to be put on our shoulders, we take pride in that,” Offensive tackle Jamaree Salyer said. “We go and play as hard as we can. We play hard for Zamir, we play hard for James and Kendall and Stet. Whoever has the ball we play hard for them and make sure they’re protected.”
Georgia only scored 14 points against the Wildcats and Salyer recognizes it wasn’t a perfect day on Saturday. But confidence is high heading into a game against a Florida team whose defense has been suspect at times this season.
“I have a lot of confidence in our group,” Salyer said. “A lot of confidence may not be shown in other places, but in this building, we’re very confident in our group. We’re very confident in what we can do and what we have done. I think that confidence is going to show on Saturday and show moving forward.”
Florida’s defense ranks 11th in total defense and had multiple starters miss the game against Missouri. Add in that Zachary Carter — Florida’s second-most disruptive defensive lineman — will miss the first half of the game stemming from his involvement in a fight during the Missouri-Florida game.
Georgia most obviously needs Bennett and the passing game to be better on Saturday if it’s going to win. But the other aspects of the offense, the ones that defined much of the early success of the Smart era, are looking more and more like they did compare to the start of the 2020 season.
And that should give Bennett, offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Smart confidence heading into the pivotal SEC east matchup on Saturday.
Jamaree Salyer confident heading into game against Florida
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