Kirby Smart said before the game it was time to find out where his team was.
The fifth-year head coach was still looking at halftime, with Georgia trailing 7-5 against an upset-minded Arkansas team in Fayetteville.
Redshirt junior Stetson Bennett came off the bench to engineer a 37-10 victory for the fourth-ranked Bulldogs, but not before some anxious moments.
“Really sloppy first half,” Smart said. “Every time we had something going we’d shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Georgia committed 11 penalties for 98 yards through the opening half, and starting QB D’Wan Mathis turned the ball over with an interception at the Hogs’ 5-yard line adding to the angst.
The Bulldogs’ defense, touted as the best in the nation, allowed the Razorbacks 280 yards of offense, with 91 of that coming on Arkansas’ first quarter touchdown drive.
Senior safety Richard LeCounte — beaten on the Hogs only TD of the day — helped steady the defense with two interceptions.
Arkansas QB Feleipe Franks was 19-of-36 passing for 200 yards with a TD and 2 interceptions.
UGA out-gained Arkansas 387-280.
The Bulldogs play home against Auburn at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday.
FOURTH QUARTER SCORING
Georgia 37, Arkansas 10 (1:23 ): Jack Podlesny 38-yard field goal. Drive: 6 plays, 22 yards, 2:36.
Georgia 34, Arkansas 10 (11:15 ): Zamir White 6-yard run (Jack Podlesny kick). Drive: 13 plays, 81 yards, 5:38. Key play: Matt Landers 23-yard catch on third-and-10 to the Arkansas 35.
THIRD QUARTER SCORING
— 1:53 Richard LeCounte interception at Georgia 18-yard line.
Georgia 27, Arkansas 10 (2:53): Eric Stokes 30-yard interception return for touchdowns. (Jack Podlesny kick).
Georgia 20, Arkansas 10 (3:20): John FitzPatrick 7-yard pass from Stetson Bennett (Jack Podlesny kick); Key play: Zamir White blocked punt, ball out of bounds at Arkansas 24.
Georgia 13, Arkansas 10 (6:00): George Pickens 19-yard pass from Stetson Bennett (2-point conversion run good, Stetson Bennett); 6 plays, 57 yards, 2:23. Key play: Kenny McIntosh 43-yard kick return to Arkansas 43.
Arkansas 10, Georgia 5 (8:23): A.J. Reed 25-yard field goal. Drive: 11 plays, 43 yards, 4:15.
— 12:38 James Cook fumble, Arkansas recovers at Razorbacks’ 49
Georgia penalties 11 for 98 yards
Georgia 1-12 on third downs
Stetson Bennett 9-14, 92 yards
D’Wan Mathis 6-14, 37, 1 Int
Georgia rushing 20 carries, 48 yards
Feleipe Franks 10-23, 130, 1 TD, 1 Int
SECOND QUARTER SCORING
Arkansas 7, Georgia 5, (0:00): Jack Podlesny 38-yard field goal. Drive: 8 plays, 59 yards, 1 minute.
— 6:11 Turnover on downs, Zamir White stopped on fourth-and-1 at Arkansas 24.
Arkansas 7, Georgia 2, (14:30): Georgia safety, Azeez Ojulari strips T.J. Hammonds at goal line, ball goes out back of end zone.
FIRST QUARTER BOX, KEY STATS
D’Wan Mathis 6-of-12 passing 37 yards, interception
UGA 8 penalties, 73 yards
Arkansas 117 yards, Georgia 68 yards
FIRST QUARTER LIVE
Arkansas 7, Georgia 0 (8:48): Treylon Burks 49-yard pass from Feleipe Franks, (A.J. Reed kick); Drive: 7 plays, 91 yards, 2:17; Key play: De’Vion Warren 28-yard catch on third-and7 from Arkansas’ 28-yard line.
— 4:33 Turnover: Richard LeCounte interception at UGA 47 and returned 38 yards to Arkansas’ 15-yard line
— 3:14 Turnover: D’Wan Mathis intercepted at Arkansas 5-yard line by Montaric Jackson
(Georgia wins toss, defers, Arkansas will receive)
• D’Wan Mathis starts at quarterback
• Kearis Jackson takes field as punt returner
• Offensive line: LT Salyer, LG Shaffer, C Hill, RG Cleveland; RT Condon
UGA has a reloaded offense featuring just three players who have made seven or more career starts paired with a championship caliber defense.
A new offensive coordinator, and a new quarterback under center, certainly makes for anxious moments.
“You never know what you’re going to get when kids play for the first time, so I’m eager to see how a guy’s will respond,” Smart said this week on his contracted WSB-GameDay Show.
• QB Kyle Trask 30-42, 416, 6 TD passes
• TE Kyle Pitts 8-170, 4 TD receptions
• Wildcats out-gained Tigers 384-324
• Auburn QB Bo Nix 16-27, 233 yards, 3 touchdowns
• K.J. Costello 623 yards passing and 6 touchdowns for Coach Mike Leach
Alabama at Missouri, 7 p.m.
• Missouri has won 14 straight home openers
Vanderbilt at Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m.
• QB Kellen Mond 35th career start (22-12)
Tenn. at South Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
• Vols carry over six game win streak
Georgia 30, Arkansas 3
Zamir White 100+ yards rushing
George Pickens 100+ yards receiving
Arkansas < 50 yards rushing
UGA defense 4 sacks, 3 forced turnovers
— MikeGriffith32 (@MikeGriffith32) September 26, 2020
QB JT Daniels (knee), doubtful
TE Tre’ McKitty (knee), out
RB Kendall Milton (hamstring), probable
WR Dominick Blaylock (knee), out
DB Kelee Ringo (labrum), out