Georgia football report card: Bulldogs fail to make grade in crunch time
ATHENS — Kirby Smart is not one for excuses, and he’s generally not one to look back on wins or losses.
But on Saturday night, in the aftermath of a 44-28 loss to Florida where the Gators looked like the better-coached team, Smart made an exception.
“You know in the SEC East in the last 20 games we were 19-1 until tonight,” Smart said, referring to Georgia’s record the past four seasons against division teams. “I’m not going to say the sky is falling, everything is coming down. Hey we’ve gotta get better. We’ve gotta get our players to play better.”
Most every Georgia fan and supported would be in agreement after seeing the Bulldogs out-gained by almost 300 yards (571-277).
Here’s one opinion of how the Georgia position groups graded out in the loss in Florida to the Gators:
Stetson Bennett was inconsistent and overmatched after taking a shot to the shoulder at the end of Georgia’s second drive.The third quarter interception at the Florida 35 was costly. D’Wan Mathis’ talent flashed on a few plays, as he led the team on a TD drive. But Mathis’ throws were inconsistent, and the offense was not fluid with the redshirt freshman under center. Both QBs dropped a snap.
RUNNING BACKS (B)
Zamir White’s 75-yard run was a thing of beauty, White finding the open lane and running untouched. The run game never really got untracked, just 15 carries for all the backs combined, White with seven of them. James Cook had 6 carries for 26 yards and 3 catches for 17, a non-factor.
RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDS (C-)
John Fitzpatrick had a bad drop, and Darnell Washington dropped a pass thrown behind him. Demetris Robertson didn’t extend his arms on a potential TD pass from D’Wan Mathis. Kearis Jackson was the leading receiver with 3 catches for 48 yards and a 25-yard TD catch from Mathis.
OFFENSIVE LINE (A)
The run blocking was excellent, and the pass blocking provided the Georgia quarterbacks plenty of time to throw the football. Justin Shaffer had a false start, but overall, this unit continues to play winning football.
DEFENSIVE LINE (B-)
Jermaine Johnson got the only sack of the game for Georgia, as Azeez Ojulari wasn’t a factor in the pass rush. Ojulari had five tackles, and Devonte Wyatt stepped up and made four stops at defensive tackle. Nolan Smith had one tackle and one QB hurry, and Malik Herring had three tackles. Solid effort considering starting NT and DT were out.
Nakone Dean had a team-high 15 tackles, but Smart said he and Monty Rice had too many issues in pass coverage, particularly the way the Florida back kept leaking out on the wheel route. Rice also had a costly facemark in the second quarter that contributed to the Gators tacking on a TD before the half to make it 38-21.
Lews Cine was playing excellent, striking hard in run support before a big hit on Kyle Pitts led to his ejection for an accident targeting foul. Pitts ducked his head into the Cine’s hit. Mark Webb had a blown assignment that led to Florida’s first touchdown. Tyson Campbell had perfect coverage and 6-5 TE Kyle Pitts still caught a pass over him.
SPECIAL TEAMS (B)
It was easily Jake Camarda’s most disappointing outing of the season, and his 23-yard shank enabled Florida to add a valuable touchdown in the final 39 seconds of the first half. Kearis Jackson had a 56-yard kick return and 9-yard punt return. Coverage units were solid.
Georgia’s opening 3-tight end, 2-back formation schemed up a 75-yard TD run where the back didn’t get touched, and there were receivers open all day but a lack of execution. Player development is part of the job and the receivers do not seem consistent. The defensive staff gave up the wheel route seven times, seemingly unable to adjust.
Georgia opened with a 14-0 lead but was unable to execute in the clutch, 1-of-6 on third downs in the first half, and incapable of mustering more than seven points in the second half. Kirby Smart’s decision to play an injured Stetson Bennett was puzzling, as was turning to an inexperienced QB down 20 instead of a veteran whose speciality was spraying the ball around at USC.