ATHENS — Coach Kirby Smart is all about the positivity, even while he knows this version of Georgia football has yet to match the level of play the past two seasons.
The good news is that it hasn’t had to, thanks to a conveniently light schedule that has allowed for the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs to build depth and rest some banged up players.
Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) plays on the road at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday against Auburn (3-1, 0-1)
Here are three quick takeaways from Georgia’s 49-21 win over UAB under the lights at Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
Feed the monster
Carson Beck’s career passing day came largely on the back and legs of All-American Brock Bowers, who had a team-high 9 catches for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Beck’s nine completions to Bowers were of the quick, high-percentage variety, as the tight end made 110 of his 121 receiving yards after the catch.
It has been effective, even as Bowers has played through early-season bumps and bruises.
Smart has said he wants to see more explosive plays and noted there were two occasions the Bulldogs had wide-open receivers downfield and Beck and targets Arian Smith and Jackson Meeks didn’t connect, and a fourth-down pass in the direction of Rara Thomas was off the mark.
Perhaps the most shocking development was UAB’s ability to drive the field at the end of the first half, and no one was more surprised than Smart.
The Blazers took over at their own 30-yard line with 1:20 left in the half down 28-7, and on first down, called a run play up the middle that went for 4 yards.
Smart called a timeout at the 1:16 mark, an indicator he was confident Georgia would get a stop and perhaps get another possession.
The Blazers, instead, went no-huddle and completed a 9-play, 70-yard touchdown drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown pass to cut Georgia’s lead to 28-14 at the half.
Georgia was missing several key players against UAB, many of whom likely could have played if the Bulldogs were facing a marquee opponent.
Receiver Ladd McConkey has yet to play this season but targeted Auburn for his return from the back injury that has kept him sidelined.
Defensive end Mykel Williams (illness) and safety Javon Bullard (ankle) will likely be back for the Auburn game, as well.
Other key players who were out that will be back at some point: Tight end Lawson Luckie (ankle), tailback Kendal Milton (knee), tailback Roderick Robinson (ankle), offensive tackle Amarius Mims (ankle).