Georgia football report card: Bulldogs schooled by Alabama, 41-24
Alabama played like a team that knew who it was, while Georgia had the sort of issues expected of a team trying to grow into an offensive identity.
The No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide scored a 41-24 victory over No. 3-ranked Georgia on Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, outscoring the Bulldogs 21-0 in the second half.
“We just played a really good football team, and we didn’t play our best game, and we turned it over three times,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “But I thought we did some good things.”
Most of the good things came in the first half as the Bulldogs built a 24-20 halftime lead.
But Alabama came roaring back in the second half, just as it has in the previous two victories Nick Saban had scored over Kirby Smart.
Here’s one view of how Georgia football report card graded out
Bennett’s three-interception performance was not up to par. He had five passes batted down at the line of scrimmage and completed less than half of his throws, 18 of 40 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett did some very good things, including a perfectly layered pass to James Cook that went for an 82-yard touchdown, and drawing Alabama offsides on a fourth down to set up a TD. Bennett was also 8-of-13 passing for 83 yards on third downs.
Running backs (B-)
The backs collectively ran for 129 yards on 28 attempts, a decent 4.6 yards-per-carry average. But the explosive runs aren’t happening nearly enough. There were no fumbles or missed blocks in pass protection. James Cook had 4 catches for 101 yards including an 82-yard TD catch along with 5 carries for 16 yards. Kendall Milton had a 24-yard run. Zamir White ran hard with 10 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.
It’s an inexperienced group that looked ordinary compared with Alabama’s elite wideouts. George Pickens caught 5 of his 7 targets and had 53 yards receiving. Jermaine Burton had 4 catches on 11 targets, finishing with 58 yards receiving and a TD. Kearis Jackson was bracketed all night, limited to 23 yards on 2 catches. But Jackson also had a holding penalty and Burton dropped a touchdown pass.
Offensive line (A-)
Very strong effort in pass protection and run blocking that was wasted in defat. Even Kirby Smart, who typically holds the O-Line to ridiculously high standards, was praising the play of his big men up front. Georgia averaged 4.8 yards per carry overall on the ground, and while Bennett was sacked twice for minus-14 yards, it was more on him than the line.
Defensive line (B-)
Azeez Ojulari came off the edge to hit Mac Jones on the opening drive to trigger an interception, and he batted down a pass in the flats in the first quarter. Malik Herring and Jermaine Johnson recorded tackles for loss. There were times the front clogged things up, but too often Najee Harris had holes to the second level. Georgia won some battles up front, but Alabama won the war.
Nakobe Dean had a sack, but other than that, there didn’t seem to be impact plays form the linebackers, who need to be forcing fumbles and intercepting more passes. Quay Walker saw action and had 7 tackles, but he was unable to get up to speed with Harris, who ran by him more than once. Middle linebacker Monty Rice shook off a lower body injury and had 6 tackles.
To be fair, the Alabama pass game set the curve higher than any opponent this secondary has seen. After Richard LeCounte’s diving interception on the opening possession it was hard to find highlights. Eric Stokes was called for holding twice, once in the end zone on third down, leading to a TD. Lecounte and Tyrique Stevenson had holds, too, and Tyson Campbell slipped on Jaylen Waddle’s 90-yard TD catch.
Special teams (A)
Scott Cochran’s special teams units continue to shine, led by All-American in the making Jake Camarda, who averaged 49 yards per punt and put three of his four kicks inside the Tide 20. Kicker Jack Podlesny made a 50-yard kick but missed from 35. Zamir White, Kearis Jackson and Kenny McIntosh had two kick returns a piece, averaging over 26 yards collectively. Coverage teams limited Jaylen Waddle to one kick return for 22 yards and a punt return for 2 yards.
Georgia had players in position to make plays, but they weren’t able to execute or got outplayed by equally talented players. Alabama played with more confidence and urgency. UGA’s offense is somewhat limited by its youth and inexperience at positions and figures to continue to evolve. Defensively, Dan Lanning may have met his match in Steve Sarkisian, who appeared to have him set up for the second half. Scott Cochran was the best special teams coach on the field on Saturday.
Not good, but not bad either, Georgia found a way to lead Alabama 24-20 at the half despite being outgunned and out-gunned at some obvious positions. The Tide’s skill position players are a level up from what the Bulldogs showed on Saturday, and growth and development needs to take place for UGA to earn a shot at playing Alabama again in the SEC title game on Dec. 19.