Georgia offense had plenty to celebrate: ‘Alpha leader’ Kenny McIntosh and Ladd McConkey finished tops in yardage
ATHENS — The Georgia football offense hit teams in so many different ways it was hard for fans to keep up, much less opposing coaches.
That’s how Kenny McIntosh and Ladd McConkey, the skill players who accounted for the most yards this season, somehow slipped under the all-star radar, neither making first-team All-SEC despite standout seasons.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett could relate, though the Mailman did earn a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist despite not being selected as a first-team All-SEC pick.
The Bulldogs’ football dynasty is underway with back-to-back national championships, however, paving the way for future stars to get more of the type of recognition they deserve.
Georgia fans are sure to do their part today at Sanford Stadium, as they have one final chance to recognize all of the players’ achievements during the program’s championship celebration at 2 p.m.
Like a good movie, this Georgia football team gets more interesting each time you review their accomplishments and look into different facets.
McIntosh joined the elite company of Florida’s Percy Harvin and Ole Miss’ Dexter McCluster as the only SEC players since 2000 to have more than 500 yards rushing and receiving and score 10 touchdowns.
McConkey, meanwhile, played through an injured foot and then knee the second half of the season, joining McIntosh and All-American tight end Brock Bowers with more than 1,000 yards.
Many fans and media overlooked the key contributions as other storylines developed, but Smart certainly took note.
“Kenny is a great example of our program,” Smart said last Tuesday, one day after the 65-7 demolition of TCU at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. “He came in as a chubby kid with a great smile, playing behind people and didn’t know how to play on special teams. He left as an alpha leader.
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“And when he spoke, people really listened to Kenny. I’ve never seen a person will a team to a win like he did in Missouri. The guy was basically running crippled out there against Missouri and pounding people and running the ball.
“He took over games.”
Indeed, with the perfect season on the line, McIntosh converted a fourth-and-2 deep in Missouri territory with Georgia down by 10 points in a game Bulldogs’ fans will no soon forget.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken could have called any player’s number, but he chose McIntosh.
Then there was McConkey, a lightly-recruited 3-star from Chatsworth, Ga., that redshirted in 2020 and began to emerge last season.
With leading receiver A.D. Mitchell out most all of this season, it was McConkey stretching the defense on the perimeter with his speed and route-running, opening things up underneath for the tight ends and backs to catch passes.
And when McConkey was speeding down the field as a receiver, he was helping to ignite the offense with explosive punt returns.
Smart was still expressing disbelief McConkey was so overlooked in the recruiting process at the CFP championship press conference some three years later.
“If not for YouTube and smartphones, I probably wouldn’t know who Ladd was, because I watched him at a camp just unbelievable quickness and suddenness,” Smart said.
“And he was beating kids that we were recruiting. I was, like, why is nobody recruiting this guy? What did he do? What did he do to not garner attention? Because all he does is make plays.”
Georgia was full of playmakers on offense, and a championship offensive line paved the way, allowing just 9 sacks in 15 games.
Here’s a look at the skill position players who carried the load for Georgia this season:
Carrying the load
193 touches, 1,327 yards, 12 touchdowns
(43-504-2 receiving, 150-829-10 rushing)
81 touches, 1,093 yards, 9 touchdowns
(58-762-7 receiving, 7-134-2 rushing, 16-197 punt returns)
72 touches, 1,051 yards, 10 touchdowns
(63-942-7 receiving, 9-109-3 rushing)
154 touches, 870 yards, 7 touchdowns
(14-101-0 receiving, 140-769-7 rushing)
43 touches, 757 yards, 2 touchdowns
(21-320-2 receiving, 1-(-5) rushing, 18-391 KR, 3-51 PR
90 touches, 656 yards, 9 touchdowns
(5-64-1 receiving, 85-592-8 rushing)
28 catches, 454 yards, 2 touchdowns