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Georgia football winners and losers following shutout win over Samford
Winner: Every Georgia pass catcher
“Darnell has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s practiced really hard, he’s played really hard, he’s maintained his weight at the right level, and he’s getting rewarded for it by getting some catches, some touches, and also being really physical.”
It’s the rest of the pass catchers that need seasoning. Especially in the wake of Adonai Mitchell’s ankle injury that knocked him out of the game after the first play.
Related: Kirby Smart provides good news on the status of wide receiver Adonai Mitchell
Kearis Jackson and Ladd McConkey are certainly known entities. Freshmen Dillon Bell and De’Nylon Morrissette have both made strides of late, with Bell catching his first career touchdown on Saturday.
Stetson Bennett was asked about spreading the ball around and could simply smile. This offense is designed to get the ball to its playmakers in space. For all that Georgia’s offense didn’t do on Saturday, it certainly accomplished that as four different receivers recorded a catch of at least 20-plus yards.
“We have a good system that allows us to put people in places to say, ‘Is he a give-the-ball-to guy?’ ‘Cause you better know who those guys are when you play elite opponents,” Smart said. “Some teams will take those get-the-ball plays away from you. Then you get narrowed down who to touch the ball. And ultimately football comes down to who can win one-on-one, and we’ve got to figure that out.”
Loser: Field goals
Jack Podlesny had a good day for Georgia on Saturday. He made four of his five field goal attempts, with the lone miss being a 54-yarder that was only that long because Bennett took an egregious sack on third down.
But if Georgia is going to end the season as the No. 1 team in the country, it can’t have Podlesny attempting five field goals in a game. Especially when four of those kicks came after Georgia reached the red zone.
“I think we’re all upset that we didn’t execute as well as we could’ve in the first half and come out in the second half and didn’t do it again,” Bennett said. “Didn’t work out and that put a damper on it even more.”
The Bulldogs know they have to execute better in the red zone. Georgia was perfect in that aspect in Week 1 against Oregon. The Samford effort was less desirable.
Georgia will probably slot somewhere in the middle of those two outcomes in terms of red zone efficiency. Last season the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on 60 percent of their red zone trips, good for 63rd in the country in that metric.
Ideally, the Bulldogs would find better success running the ball as Georgia averaged only 4.0 yards per rush on Saturday. If the offensive line and running backs work in tandem, Georgia should have a better chance of converting field goals into touchdowns.
Winner: Freshman defenders
Malaki Starks made his first career start for Georgia a week after he snarred the first interception of his career. He joined Mykel Williams as freshman defenders in the starting lineup for Georgia.