Georgia coach Kirby Smart stresses the importance of running the football, and it’s just not possible to do that effectively without great offensive line play.
Senior offensive guard Ben Cleveland has epitomized powerful line play all season, and on Saturday night, he spearheaded a strong run blocking effort.
“The run game was the strength tonight,” Kirby Smart said. “Our guys overcame a lot tonight, especially in the run game.”
The No. 9-ranked Bulldogs scored a 45-16 win over South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium on the strength of a season-high 332 rushing yards.
James Cook had 6 carries for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns, making a case for MVP honors himself, and Zamir White had 13 rushes for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Georgia spread out the work, handing off to Kenny McIntosh 9 times for 79 yards, and freshman Daijun Edwards had 14 carries for 77 yards.
The game ended with UGA on the South Carolina 1-yard line, with Kirby Smart opting not to score another touchdown on his friend and former roommate, Gamecocks interim coach Mike Bobo.
Cleveland has been a part of many great Bulldogs’ rush efforts over the course of his career, but this year, he had to step up and become even more of a leader with four of five starters from a season ago no longer on the team.
The fifth-year product from Toccoa has also played well in pass protection this season, not surrendering a sack.
It has been enough to impress the Senior Bowl, which has invited Cleveland along with tight end Tre’ McKitty and defensive lineman Malik Herring.