ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart wanted the defense to step up and stop the run, and the Bulldogs responded, holding Tennessee to just 66 yards on 25 carries.
The talk coming out of No 2-ranked Georgia’s 38-12 win over the Vols will most certainly be about the Bulldogs’ quarterback rotation, but only because the defense did its job and kept Tennessee on lockdown.
“We were able to get some three and outs and go in there and get the ball to our offense, proud of the guys today, the way they competed,” Smart said.
It wasn’t perfect of course, for a detail-oriented defensive-minded head coach it never will be.
“Am I happy with the totality, with the numbers? Yeah, but the result is not what’s important,” Smart said. “I think everybody looks at the result, the result is 66 yards. I’m looking at it like this guy didn’t line up right, this guy didn’t play the right technique and we gave up a nine-yard run. If you can improve that, you give up 54, you give up 55 (yards), and it changes.”
Smart, of course, is known for holding his team to a championship level standard.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) September 30, 2018
“We’ve got to continue to improve but I am proud of the toughness and the striking,” Smart said, “and the ability to hold the run within reason.”
Missouri rushed for 172 yards and four touchdowns last week in the Bulldogs’ 43-29 win in Columbia.
The Tigers and Week 3 opponent Middle Tennessee both averaged 5.3 yards on first-and-10 carries.
Tennessee had eight first-and-10 carries totaling 30 yards — but 17 came on the first play of the game. After that, the next seven first-and-10 runs featured only two that went for more than 1 yard — a 5-yarder and 6-yarder.
“When we played it right, we had success,” Smart said. “Some runs got out on us that we weren’t lined up right. We’ve got to execute at a high clip.”