ATHENS — Georgia receiver Kearis Jackson said two weeks ago that this “would be a Georgia offense that nobody has ever seen before.”
What the 6-foot, 200-pounder from Fort Valley, Ga., didn’t tell us was that he would play a lead role in it.
Jackson hauled in a career-high 9 catches for 147 yards, helping to get the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs on track early and often in their 27-6 win over No. 7 Auburn on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium.
“Kearis is one of our leaders, he’s one of our toughest players, he’s one of the most demanding guys of other people, he’s a great academic student, he does what he’s supposed to do when he’s supposed to do it,” Coach Kirby Smart said. “He deserved that game more than anybody. He made plays, and he did a great job with that.”
Georgia QB Stetson Bennett looked for Jackson on third-down throws on each of the first two scoring drives in the first quarter, and Jackson came through each time.
Jackson produced again in the fourth quarter, bailing UGA out on a third-and-21.
• Third-and-10 at AU 32, Bennett hit Jackson for 17 yards. Five plays later UGA opened the game’s scoring with a touchdown.
• Third-and-2 at AU 20, Bennett found Jackson for a 16-yard gain. Four plays later, UGA padded its lead with a field goal.
• Third-and-21 at UGA 23, Bennett completed a pass to Jackson for 22 yards.
Jackson, a state shot put champion at Peach County High School as well as a sprinter, was just getting warmed up.
Jackson hauled in a 49-yard rainbow pass from Bennett in the second quarter that, had it been on a line, would have gone for a touchdown.
Special teams is another area where Jackson contributes, though Auburn did a nice job keeping him bottled up in that area. Jackson had two punt returns for 6 yards.
“We want to be explosive and put points on the board every time we touch the ball,” Jackson said entering into the season-opening game.
Jackson certainly did his part, leading Georgia with six catches for 62 yards in the 37-10 season-opening win at Arkansas.
Jackson’s emergence has been a key for the Bulldogs’ offense, as it has shifted into a pass-first mode under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Last season, Jackson had just five catches for 79 yards all year, suffering a broken hand in the opening game at Vanderbilt.