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Georgia football winners and losers following Week 1 win over Clemson
Winner: Zamir White
Many had wondered how Georgia would use its running backs on Saturday. It was by far the deepest position on the team and Georgia got all four of Zamir White, Kendall Milton, Kenny McIntosh and James Cook involved throughout the game.
But on Georgia’s final drive of the game, head coach Kirby Smart was pressed into making a decision. With the game on the line, the Bulldogs needed to put the ball in the hands of someone to make a play.
That person was White.
White finished the game with a team-high 74 rushing yards on 13 carries. He also provided his usual excellence as a pass blocker and on special teams. He did have a fumble early in the game that he was fortunate to recover. But he was at his best late in the game, when players are usually their most fatigued.
The Bulldogs also had a turnover on a punt return that could have spelled trouble. After the defense once again stifled the Clemson defense, Georgia end up giving the ball right back to the Tigers after a Clemson punt hit off of an unsuspecting Kendall Milton.
The play can largely be chalked up to bad luck, though that kind of thing seems to happen a lot to Georgia in big games. It was not the best debut for Georgia special teams coordinator Will Muschamp in that regard.
Winner: Veteran defensive backs
The performance on Saturday from veterans like Chris Smith, Latavious Brini and Ameer Speed was a major win for Georgia’s ability to develop players.
All three had to wait their turn to make an impact at Georgia, as they all sat behind players who were taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Smith was able to start the final five games of the 2021 season following Richard LeCounte’s injuries. He emerged as a trusted option at safety in that span.