ATLANTA — Georgia won the game but may have lost the war Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech 52-7, but UGA’s star running back left the game with a shoulder injury, and the most talented receiver was baited into a fistfight and ejection.
If the Yellow Jackets’ intent was to damage Georgia’s College Football Playoff hopes, the mission was accomplished.
Georgia’s sloppy second quarter led to D’Andre Swift still being in the game in the third quarter, and then freshman WR George Pickens got ejected in the third quarter after sitting out the first half on account of a violation of team rules.
Pickens will have to sit out the first half of next Saturday’s 4 p.m. game against LSU (12-0) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Not exactly optimal.
Jake Fromm tied his career high with 4 touchdown passes, but there were times he didn’t look sharp. Fromm was 14-of-29 passing for 254 yards with no interceptions. Some of Fromm’s incompletions were dropped passes, or throw-away passes, but there were a couple of other times he simply appeared to miss. Fromm is not perfect, and the merry-go-round of receivers has to affect his timing. Still, Fromm has set a high standard for himself and he wasn’t quite up to it.
Swift fumbled twice, the second one coming when he had the ball in the wrong hand even before the shoulder injury. Brian Herrien ran well with 8 carries for 46 yards, and Kenny McIntosh pounded out 20 yards and a TD on 6 carries. James Cook was the plus with 4 carries for 30 yards and 2 catches for 34 yards. Zamir White’s bulldozing style netted 30 yards on 6 carries.
Tyler Simmons was a bright spot with a team-high 3 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. Dominick Blaylock had a 20-yard TD catch and Demetris Robertson had 2 catches for 22 yards. Robertson struggles to get separation and does little after the catch, however. Charlie Woerner made his first career TD catch, a 20-yarder, and fellow TE Eli Wolf had a 47-yard catch. George Pickens brings down the team grade by fighting and getting ejected, offsetting his 41-yard TD catch.
Offensive line (B+)
Fromm was sacked only once, and it was more of a coverage sack as he held the ball, unable to find an open receiver. The run lanes were there for Swift, Herrien and Cook. The Bulldogs had 40 rushing attempts for 219 yards, an average of 5.5 yards per attempt. No penalties on the road, always a good thing.
Defensive line (B+)
Another solid effort from the Georgia defensive line, which was playing with Devonte Wyatt. Nolan Smith made 3 tackles and had a QB hurry lining up with his hand in the dirt. Michael Barnett appeared dominant at times, and Netori Johnson had two tackles and the team’s only quarterback sack.
Monty Rice was atop the tackles chart with 8 stops, all in the first half. Tae Crowder provided a physical presence, showing his improvement continues even into the final weeks of the season. Nakobe Dean saw several quality snaps and had 3 tackles and a pass break-up.
J.R. Reed had two pass break-ups and quarterbacked the defense well again, the Bulldogs not giving up any plays more than 23 yards. Richard LeCounte forced a fumble for the second straight game, but UGA wasn’t able to recover it. Freshman Tyrique Stevenson was put in position to make a QB sack, but for all his athleticism, he doesn’t appear to know how to tackle in that situation. The UGA cornerbacks were in shutdown mode, all impressed.
Special teams (D)
Dominick Blaylock got special teams off to a promising start with a 32-yard punt return, and Rodrigo Blankenship hit his first field goal attempt from 49 yards. But then Blaylock muffed a punt that led to Georgia Tech’s only TD, and Blankenship missed a 42-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Things grew worse when Prather Hudson had an onside kick hit him in the hands, that he failed to recover.
Georgia did not get out of the game healthy or with enough answers at receiver. It’s clear James Cook should figure into the offense more moving forward, and Tyler Simmons has regained some trust at receiver. But the Pickens’ ejection at this stage of the season reflects on the coaching staff and team leadership. Swift’s fumbles were reminiscent of how he finished last season and could suggest he’s wearing down. The scoreboard was misleading in some respects.
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