ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart gets paid to win games and compete for championships, so he didn’t do a lot of second-guessing after a 21-0 win over Kentucky.
Smart has never been too concerned with style points, and especially not on a night of torrential rain and wind gusting up to 20 mph during the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 SEC) win over the Wildcats (3-4, 1-4) at Sanford Stadium.
Still, there were some scattered boos. Smart shrugged it off after the game, saying fans pay for their right to share their opinions, and it didn’t affect him because he had headphones on.
“I could have told you two days ago we weren’t going to go out there and throw it for 200 yards in those conditions,” Smart said. “We had to put a plan together to give us the best chance to be successful. I thought we did a good job.”
Georgia out-gained Kentucky 270 yards to 177 in a contest where both teams’ pass game were pretty much non-existent.
Jake Fromm was 9-of-12 passing for 35 yards — considerably better than the 2-of-16 passing, 17-yard output Eddie Gran’s Kentucky offense mustered.
Fromm attempted only one pass in the second half, a 7-yard completion, as the Bulldogs run game took its toll.
D’Andre Swift’s 39-yard TD run with 6:20 left in the third quarter broke open what had been a scoreless tie.
The Georgia defense seemed to feed off the energy. Safety J.R. Reed delivered a fumble-inducing hit on UK quarterback Lynn Bowden on the Wildcats’ ensuing drive, Richard LeCounte recovering the ball on the Kentucky 31.
Five consecutive run plays later, Brian Herrien sped around the right end for an 8-yard TD that made it 14-0 with 1:43 left in the third quarter.
“I think that’s a wear and tear effect,” Smart said, reflecting on how the Bulldogs run game took over the second half.
“You’re not just going to walk out there in those conditions and just walk down the field and score on people – that’s tough. It’s tough to get traction.”
The Georgia defense dug in one final time in the fourth quarter, stemming a Kentucky drive that reached the UGA 8-yard line when linebacker Jermaine Johnson flushed Lynn Bowden out of the pocket and forced an incompletion.
The Bulldogs’ offense slammed the door shut after the change of possessions, marching 92 yards on 13 plays for the final score of the night, Swift crashing in from 3 yards out with 6:24 remaining.
“I told the team we had to be patient and continue to chop wood throughout the game,” Smart said. “It was going to be a field-position battle the whole game. I was proud of the way our guys fought in what was a tough environment to play in.
“I told the team if they handled it best, they would probably come out on top.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart