NASHVILLE — The 2019 Georgia football program made its long-awaited debut to mixed reviews Saturday night.
The Bulldogs have stars who are ready to shine, but predictably, areas that need shoring up in the wake of a 30-6 win over Vanderbilt.
Coach Kirby Smart was proud of his team’s fast start and effort, likely as impressed as anyone when Georgia raced out to a 21-0 lead over the Commodores.
But Smart also saw his team’s weaknesses, and he left the Music City eager to return to Athens and get back to work.
Here are three quick takeaways from Georgia’s season-opening victory.
1. Jake Fromm, still a winner
Fromm, a third-year starter at quarter, is known and respected for his decision making and ability to take care of the football.
Fromm’s stats look relatively pedestrian, 15-of-23 passing, 156 yards. But Smart made it clear there was a lot more to those numbers than first glance.
“He got a lot of looks, he got a lot of pressures, he got a lot of blitzes,” Smart explained. “He checked, as soon as he saw pressure to one side, he moved it.
“People don’t know what he did that was really really sound and put us in good football plays. Some of those explosive runs were because he knew where to put us.”
Fromm is 25-5 as Georgia’s quarterback, 24-5 as the starter.
2. Same Kirby formula
The coordinators have changed, the Xs and the Os have shifted and the plays have been adjusted to put the ball in the hands of emerging playmakers.
But at the end of the day, it’s a Kirby Smart football team, and these Bulldogs are going to run the ball and stop the run above all else.
Georgia rushed for 325 yards and averaged 8.1 yards against a stacked box most of the night while limiting Vanderbilt to just 116 yards on the ground and no plays longer than 23 yards.
The fact UGA was stopped on a fourth-and-1 run (D’Andre Swift) and third-and-1 carry (Brian Herrien) provided evidence the Bulldogs are not, however, a finished product.
“Certainly, there’s a lot of room for improvement, but those guys play physical, those guys see every front and every box known to man,” Smart said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t convert those. But that’s good guys. We’ve got to have a lot of things to work on, that’s just one of the many that we continue to improve on.”
3. Bulldogs fans make a difference
Coaches praising fans is often lip service, but that wasn’t the case Saturday night, with at least 75 percent of the capacity crowd of 40,350 wearing red.
“First off, I’d like to thank our crowd, our fan base,” Smart said. “I think it was pretty obvious that they seemed like they took over the majority of that stadium. It felt like a home game.”
Good thing, because Georgia’s offense was a bit shaky on third downs (1-of-7) and the line had three holding penalties even without having to deal with a hostile crowd interrupting snap counts.
Georgia football vs. Vanderbilt