ATHENS — Georgia felt the heat and intensity in Williams-Brice Stadium, but the Bulldogs’ leaders stepped up to keep the huddles cool.
Quarterback Jake Fromm handled the offense, 15-of-18 passing, steady as ever in the 41-17 win at South Carolina.
Defensively, junior safety J.R. Reed has taken control of the secondary, the voice on the back end of the defense that makes sure everyone is lined up correctly and on task.
Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley threw 47 passes on Saturday, but only one of the 30 he completed went for more than 20 yards, and that was because freshman Tyson Campbell played poor technique.
Reed also intercepted Bentley in the end zone with 13:25 left in the game, protecting the 41-10 lead and sending most of the remaining South Carolina fans to the exits.
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“J.R. is a very smart guy, very certain in what he’s doing, always in his place and getting guys there they need to be,” said sophomore Richard LeCounte, who started alongside Reed at safety.
“He took a bigger role this year because he has experience, and we have a lot of young guys on defense playing.”
Coach Kirby Smart has taken a committee approach in the front seven, so Reed is the constant, likely to play more snaps than any other defender and lead the team in tackles.
Smart has the utmost confidence in Reed.
“He’s so positive, he comes up and wants to meet every day, a joy to be around,” Smart said. “He’s a competitive spirit and football is important to him. J.R. is what you want at the safety position because he’s not afraid to take control, make calls, be demand, confront other players. He really does a good job for us.”
Reed is a leader in the locker room, too, keeping his team humble and hungry.
It was Reed who said the SEC Championship Game didn’t matter because the national title went to Alabama.