3 takeaways from Georgia’s 21-0 win, some reminders for booing fans
ATHENS — It has been a while since a fan base has been this disappointed with a Top 10 team winning by 21 points, but apparently that’s how high Georgia coach Kirby Smart has elevated his program.
Or maybe the Bulldogs fans are just getting carried away with Smart’s “Do More” slogan these days.
Whatever the case, it seems like a good time to remind Georgia fans about the makeup of the 2019 Bulldogs.
“We want to be a big, bruising team that plays great defense,” UGA legend and radio color man Eric Zeier said, “that’s able to control the ball on offense.”
It sounds better than it looks, as we were all reminded during the Bulldogs’ smash-mouth 21-0 win over Kentucky on Saturday night.
Georgia fans, it appears, are getting caught up in the scoreboard watching and college football highlight shows. Some booed at the game, others sounded off on social media.
Alabama and LSU are scoring all the points, lighting up scoreboards like pinball machines, while Kirby Smart & Company are handing off up the middle.
Georgia has the biggest and arguably best offensive line in college football, remember?
The Bulldogs lost their top five pass catchers from last season, remember?
Oh, and then there’s the other side of the football that the highlight shows don’t often mention or feature — defense.
Did you know the Bulldogs are No. 1 in the SEC in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense, and No. 2 in pass efficiency defense?
See, Smart knows Georgia doesn’t have the personnel on the perimeter to win a track meet with the likes of Alabama or LSU in the SEC Championship Game.
The Bulldogs will have to keep those teams’ offenses off the field and be efficient on offense.
Hence, UGA’s leading the SEC in time of possession is no trivial statistic.
Nor is the Bulldogs’ rush attack, which averages just 3 yards less per game than league leader Auburn.
But for some, panic set in when Georgia dropped a 20-17 overtime decision to a chippy South Carolina team coming off a bye last week.
It took a lot to go wrong to lose that game — a minus-4 turnover ratio, All-American kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missing two field goals and veteran Jake Fromm being a tick off on his throws after opening the season with no interceptions in the first five games.
But the loss may have done some good in the long run. It showed the Bulldogs’ players just how beatable they are, served up some humble pie, and put the program on edge.
Those are not necessarily bad things.
Neither was winning a 21-0 slugfest on a cold, rainy night.
Those boos and incendiary comments in the wake of what some fans feel is a disappointing victory will only serve to help Smart circle the wagons and add incentive.
Georgia football is in a good place entering the bye week. That doesn’t guarantee anything, of course, but perspective is never a bad thing.
Here are three takeaways from the 21-0 win over Kentucky:
D’Andre Swift’s ownership
Swift is not a big talker, but the junior tailback recognized the need for leadership and accepted the challenge this week.
Not only is Swift making the sort of bold statements that motivate teammates and coaches, he’s showing he can back his words up with big-time performances.
Swift seems intent on lifting the Bulldogs to a championship level, and when your best player is all-in, it sets the right tone.
Secondary steps up
Georgia has plenty of talent in its secondary, and while it has flashed at times this season, it has never been as evident as it was against Kentucky.
The Wildcats presented a game plan that enabled safeties Richard LeCounte and J.R. Reed to play with the passion and physicality most expected from them in every game.
Reed hit like the All-American and future NFL starter he’s supposed to be, and LeCounte was a monster in run support. Time will tell if the safety duo can play with the same confidence, efficiency and aggression against rival Florida.
George Pickens is establishing himself as the go-to receiver Georgia trusts with Lawrence Cager out, as evidenced by his game-high four catches in a game no other receiver had more than one.
The Georgia pass game will continue to evolve as Pickens grows more comfortable in the offense and hones his skills.
The return of Kearis Jackson has also provided a lift.
Jackson’s passion and energy are evident and explain why he was a starter at the beginning of the season before breaking his hand.
Dangerous with the ball in his hands, Jackson is also providing the sort of downfield blocking UGA has been missing.