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Winners and losers from Georgia’s win over Tennessee
Winner: Senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker
Another week, another sack for Georgia’s top pass-rusher. The senior linebacker now has 4.0 on the season, which leaves him tied for fifth in the conference and only 1.5 sacks off of what he did last season.
Walker also finally got some help in the sack department, as defensive tackles Julian Rochester and Tyler Clark both chipped in 0.5 sack. Still, Walker has 4.0 of the 5.0 sacks on the season.
While it wasn’t a perfect day, Walker did have a costly 15-yard personal foul that turned a would-be third and long into a first down on Tennessee’s first scoring drive, Walker clearly established himself as one of the best pass rushers in the SEC, if not the entire country.
Loser: Junior tight end Isaac Nauta
I know what you’re thinking. Nauta made a heads-up play, scooping up a Jake Fromm fumble and running it in for a touchdown, in addition to his one catch for 17 yards.
But listen to how Nauta and Smart described Georgia’s first touchdown. They do not sound like they will be celebrating Nauta’s play when it comes up in the film review.
“It’s probably going to be a minus on the old grade sheet because their defensive end busted me in protection,” Nauta said after the game with a laugh. “I definitely have to clean that up before next week. But I’m just glad something positive came out of it and it didn’t result in a turnover.”
“You know, you’ve got to block the guy,” Smart said in his press conference. “So, I don’t live on luck, and there was a lot of luck on that play.”
Nauta isn’t getting the loser label because he missed one single block. He finds himself in this category because while the result should be celebrated, it won’t be due to a messy process.
Winner: Junior running back Brian Herrien
Herrien isn’t Georgia’s most well-lauded running back as he didn’t receiver the same type of preseason attention as D’Andre Swift or Elijah Holyfield or even freshmen Zamir White and James Cook.
But on Saturday, with the game still somewhat up in the air, the Bulldogs turned to Herrien. And the junior running back delivered.
“When we had to have a drive in the second half, [Tennessee] had come up with a big drive, I thought Brian Herrien produced a lot of juice for us and a lot of energy,” Smart said.
Herrien rushed for 56 yards on nine carries on Saturday, but 30 of those yards came on the drive that extended Georgia’s lead from 24-12 to an insurmountable 31-12 lead in the fourth quarter.
On the day as a whole, no Georgia running back overtly stood out. But the fact that Georgia can rotate between Herrien, Holyfield, Swift and Cook throughout the game is a huge boost to the offense. It keeps all four fresh which really made a difference at the end of the game.
The Bulldogs haven’t had a running back emerge as THE guy yet, but with so much depth, any running back could be THE guy for a game. And over the course of a long season, that matters.
Loser: Georgia’s pass catchers
It wasn’t just Nauta who had a tough day among Georgia’s talented cache of pass catchers. Swift and senior wide receiver Terry Godwin both dropped passes, while Jayson Stanely and Jeremiah Holloman were unable to come down with passes they should’ve had.
The other issue, and it’s a small one, is that no wide receiver really stood out. For the first time all season, junior Mecole Hardman failed to find the endzone as he finished the game with four catches for 43 yards. Junior Riley Ridley produced a similar stat-line with four catches for just 36 yards.
There’s no denying that Georgia’s skill players are talented. But against the likes of LSU, Florida and Kentucky, Georgia’s pass catchers are going to need for their production to match that talent level.
Winner: Freshman quarterback Justin Fields
We are not saying that Fields should start over sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm. We are not saying that this is a quarterback controversy. As Kirby Smart said multiple times on Saturday, “the plan is there is no plan,” at the quarterback position.
But Fields finds himself in the winner category because he showed to everyone—fans, coaches and even himself—that he is a more than capable of being a weapon in Georgia’s offense.
Fields was only 1-for-2 throwing the ball on Saturday so let’s not jump to conclusions just yet. But his ability to run the football did help give Georgia’s offense an extra gear. He played a key role on all of Georgia’s second half scoring drives, as he added two touchdowns and 45 rushing yards as well.
Going forward plenty will wonder about how much of Fields we’ll see. But he showed on Saturday that he’s capable of making a difference in an SEC game, which is something we couldn’t say about the freshman quarterback prior to the Tennessee game.
Sony Michel and Nick Chubb forever
We usually save NFL talk for Tuesday but we’re making an exception. Former Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will always be linked together given their time at Georgia together. The duo came in together as freshman in 2014 and though it wasn’t always the easiest path, helped bring Georgia within a few plays of a national championship.
The duo left Georgia as the No. 2 and No. 3 rushers in program history. Michel was taken with the No. 31 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. The Cleveland Browns selected Chubb with the No. 35 pick.
So on Sunday, it should come as a shock to absolutely no Georgia fans that the two both had special days on Saturday.
Michel and Chubb each had their first career 100-yard rushing games and scored their first career NFL touchdowns.
Michel was more methodical, as he rushed for 112 yards on 25 carries in a big 38-7 win over the Miami Dolphins.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 30, 2018
Chubb meanwhile didn’t get a huge workload as he finished with just three carries. But he absolutely made the most of them as he finished with 105 yards and two touchdowns. Maybe if the Browns had given him the ball more it would’ve won on Sunday for the first time since 2015 instead of losing to the Oakland Raiders in overtime.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 30, 2018
But regardless of who they play for on Sundays, Michel and Chubb will always be Bulldogs.
— DawgNation (@DawgNation) September 30, 2018
Best stories from around DawgNation
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- WATCH: Emotional Jeremy Pruitt ‘they know they were in a football game’
- WATCH: Georgia QB Jake Fromm talks about swapping snaps with Justin Fields
- 3 quick takeaways: Kirby Smart has ‘no plan’ for Georgia QB rotation
- Game Ball: Heads-up play by Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta sets tone vs. Vols
- Instant Analysis: No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs prove 2 QBs better than one in win over Tennessee
Dawgs on Twitter
— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) October 1, 2018
— Glenn Schumann (@CoachSchuUGA) September 30, 2018
— Herschel Walker (@HerschelWalker) September 29, 2018
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) September 30, 2018
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) September 29, 2018
Good Dog of the Day
— WeRateDogs™ (@dog_rates) September 29, 2018
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