There’s an old gambling saying that good teams win, great teams cover. The Georgia Bulldogs did just that on Saturday night as the Bulldogs beat Tennessee 44-21. The Vegas line before the game was 12.5 points, and with Georgia winning by 23, the Bulldogs would appear to have covered with ease.
“We beat a really good team in Tennessee. We do all those things wrong, but I think we covered tonight so that’s good,” Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV said following the win.
But if you actually took the time to watch the game as opposed to seeing only the final score, you’d understand that Georgia looked far from a great team at times on Saturday.
There was a sloppy first half, that featured Georgia getting stuffed twice on fourth down. There was also an errant snap that led directly to a Tennessee touchdown. On another play, Tennessee dropped what should’ve been a surefire Bennett interception.
The Bulldogs went into the half trailing 21-17.
“It’s something we need to get fixed,” Bennett said on the first-half woes. “We gotta get the first half fixed. You don’t want to be known as a second-half team because the first half you played poorly.”
Much like the final score, Bennett’s statistical line shows a good effort. He threw for 238 yards on 27 passing attempts. He threw two touchdown passes and ran for a touchdown as well.
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But there were also some drives where the Bulldogs failed to execute. The Georgia defense, stellar in the second half as it forced three fumbles and an interception while also recording five sacks, continued to put Georgia in a position to really crush the Volunteers.
Georgia, though, didn’t do that. The Bulldogs opened their first two drives in Tennessee territory thanks to the turnovers. But Georgia couldn’t turn those into touchdowns, as the Bulldogs had to settle for two field goals.
At one point, Georgia had as many field goals in the second half, two, as offensive yards, two.
“We come out and get all the momentum back and then we let them get the momentum back after they hold us to a field goal,” Smart said. “You got a chance to put somebody away, that’s what good teams do.
“They get momentum and they just run away with it. And we didn’t do that.”
Bennett and the offense eventually got things going in the right direction, with Bennett making a couple of big throws to Kearis Jackson on third down to extend Georgia drives. One of those resulted in a 21-yard touchdown to put Georgia up 30-21.
On the next Georgia drive after a Tennessee punt, Bennett had a 33-yard connection with Jackson to set Georgia up in the red zone. Instead of ramming Zamir White into the Tennessee defensive front, the Bulldogs ran a play-action pass and Bennett connected with defensive lineman Jalen Carter for a touchdown. That made it 37-21, enough for Georgia to cover the spread.
It was also important for the Bulldogs to not settle for field goals on those latter two drives.
“We need seven,” Smart said. “To be the team we want to be, we need to be explosive offensively. In order to get where we need to offensively, we have to improve.”
The Bulldogs will need to do just that rather quickly, as a massive contest against Alabama looms next week. Alabama has been one of the best offensive teams in the country in recent years and has no problem rolling up points.
They are almost certainly one of the teams Smart was referencing when he spoke about good teams.
“People are going to score points in college football,” Smart said. “The really good teams score points. On offense, hopefully, our guys will buy into doing the little things right, we can be good.”
The over/under for this game was 42.5. Georgia scored 44 points on its own so if you bet the over, you’re probably feeling pretty good.
The same feeling can’t quite be shared by the Georgia offense just yet. There’s some promise there, as the offense has been good at times, much like Bennett has.
But it has still yet to put together a complete offensive game. And it will need to do that if it wants to take down Alabama.
“It’s exciting because there’s no telling what we could do if we clean up the little things and just play football the way we know how to,” Bennett said.
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