ATHENS — Kirby Smart has referred to them as extended handoffs, but for some Georgia’s short, quick passes look like a conservative pass game.

Smart, winner of 20 straight games and the head coach of a two-time defending championship team and No. 1-ranked team, should be the voice of authority when it comes to such things.

It is his team and he ultimately oversees the offensive and defensive game plans, and to this point this season, Georgia is 3-0 and 1-0 in league play after a 24-14 win over South Carolina.

Smart explained how “six of seven” of the catches made by tight end Brock Bowers and Dominic Lovett were considered runs by his offensive philosophy, as they were quick, short high-percentage passes.

Bowers had 7 catches for 54 yards, his longest reception going for 13 yards, while Lovett had 7 catches for 56 yards, his longest a 14-yard gain.

“We had this conversation before, remember?” said Smart, whose offense utilized the same philosophy last season with former quarterback Stetson Bennett, throwing quick passes to Bowers, former tailback Kenny McIntosh and currently injured receiver Ladd McConkey.

“Those were catches that were runs.”

Georgia also saw its conventional run game — via the handoffs QB keeps — go for 189 yards on the Gamecocks.

“So actually, the run game worked a little more, and then the run game you don’t recognize (short, quick passes) worked well, too,” Smart said.

“We take a lot of pride in that, because if we’re going to struggle to run the ball or if we’re going to struggle to have healthy backs, we have to create it other ways.”

Georgia, which found itself in a dogfight with the Gamecocks, also had to avoid turnovers and negative plays --- which it did, as Carson Beck was not intercepted and suffered only two sacks.

Smart wants a physical run game as much as anyone, and the Bulldogs saw promising signs of that on Saturday even after starter Amarius Mims left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter.

Daijun Edwards rushed for 118 yards on 20 carries in his first game back from the sprained knee that led him to miss the first two games.

Edwards’ return was key, as has been the emergence of receiver Dillon Bell and walk-on Cash Jones at the position.

Projected starter Kendall Milton, who has been slowed by chronic hamstring issues, suffered a sprained knee against South Carolina.

Redshirt freshman Andrew Paul is still working to get back from the knee injury he suffered last fall, and the Bulldogs lost tailback Branson Robinson to a knee injury (patellar tendon) in camp this fall.

Georgia will enter the UAB game next Saturday ranked 75th in the nation in rushing, averaging 149 yards per game.