Backs to the wall, Georgia was forced to forge an identity amid the rain against upset-minded South Carolina on Saturday.
The No 1-ranked Bulldogs pounded their way back from a 14-3 halftime deficit, rallying for a 24-14 victory over the Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium.
Quarterback Carson Beck was an effective 27-of-35 passing for 269 yards, but it was the running game and run defense that stepped up most.
Here are three takeaways from the Bulldogs’ stirring come-from-behind victory:
Hold that line
Plenty has changed on Georgia’s defensive front, with five players selected from the D-Line over the past two drafts.
But Smart and his staff remained committed to stopping the run, and keeping South Carolina one-dimensional was key in what turned into a dogfight.
The Gamecocks had just 53 yards rushing on 16 attempts on Saturday, the longest run a 13-yard sprint by Spencer Rattler.
Ring the bell
Daijun Edwards carried the load in his first game back from injury, powering for 118 yards and a TD on 20 carries.
But Dillon Bell has also earned a prominent role with Kendall Milton slowed by injuries.
Bell scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Bulldogs on a 3-yard blast in the third quarter, and beyond that, looked like the most explosive player in the backfield.
It was Bell who sparked a pivotal fourth-quarter scoring drive that helped secure the win, angling his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame between the tackles on runs of 8 and 4 yards as Georgia drove 61 yards on 8 plays to take a 24-14 lead.
There were tough conditions, to be sure, but Coach Kirby Smart has no choice but to reconsider the placekicking duties after freshman Peyton Woodring missed field goals of 28 and 43 yards in the first and second halves on Saturday.
Smart observes the kicker competition in practices between Woodring and Jared Zirkel and said he has confidence in both.
But Smart has also conceded that there is no simulation for game conditions, and Woodring missed a 28-yard field goal on the game-opening drive against Ball State, too.