ATHENS — Kirby Smart cut to the chase when he said Georgia won’t win many games with a performance like the Bulldogs had at Arkansas.
Auburn is on deck (7:30 p.m. Saturday). It’s fair to say the Tigers will demand a considerably better game plan and level of focus and execution from Georgia.
It’s a Bulldogs team that features only three players on offense who have seven starts or more — Center Trey Hill, offensive guard Ben Cleveland and receiver Kearis Jackson.
For Georgia to remain a serious title contender, the rest of the offense must grow up in a hurry.
The Arkansas game story had a happening ending for the Bulldogs, who finished on the right side of a 37-10 final score.
But there’s no escaping UGA was outplayed, out-coached and out-executed for 30 minutes against a vastly inferior team. The Bulldogs didn’t lead until there was 6 minutes left in the third quarter!
Georgia was called for 11 penalties for 98 yards in the first half and fumbled the ball away on the opening drive of the second half before finally getting things going.
The Bulldogs essentially overcame themselves as much as the Razorbacks.
It took some strong individual performances to make that happen, the sort Smart said he expected to get but just wasn’t sure who he would get them from after an offseason like no other.
Jake Camarda: The junior punter had what amounted to an All-American performance, averaging 49.9 yards on his seven punts, and burying five inside the Razorbacks’ 20-yard line.
Stetson Bennett: Incredible off-the-bench performance, 20-of-29 passing for 211 yards with 2 touchdowns, Also, 5 carries for 20 yards including a fourth-and-2 conversion run, a 10-yard, first-down scramble and 2-point conversion run. No more overlooking Bennett.
George Pickens: No flags, no immature moments and no question he’s among the best in the nation. Pickens had four catches for 47 yards despite getting extra attention, including a clutch 19-yard catch-and-run TD reception.
Kearis Jackson: The redshirt sophomore had six catches for 62 yards, providing a reliable, quick and nimble target on the perimeter, just what Georgia needs as it leans toward more Air Raid moving forward.
Nakobe Dean: The sophomore inside linebacker led UGA with seven tackles and also was in on a sack. Dean’s speed and open-field tackling provides a lift and establishes him as a rising star.
John FitzPatrick: The 6-foot-7, 254-pound FitzPatrick has worked hard for his opportunities, and on Saturday he made the most of both. The former Marist School standout had two catches for 19 yards including an impressive 7-yard TD grab.
Richard LeCounte: Yes the Georgia All-American had two interceptions and steadied the defense after a rough first quarter, but that’s what he’s supposed to do. LeCounte got caught out of position on Arkansas’ 49-yard TD pass, It’s the first regular-season play of over 40 yards against UGA since the loss to South Carolina last season.
D’Wan Mathis: The redshirt freshman failed to produce any points in the first half, but he made some nice throws and showed off his great agility on scrambles. Mathis also showed his toughness after taking a brutal sideline hit. More than anything, Mathis exhibited poise despite tough circumstances.
Eric Stokes: Stokes has elevated himself into an area of high expectations, so the third down pass interference flag he drew that extended what proved to be a 91-yard TD drive was disappointing. Stokes had a Pick-6 to somewhat offset that, his first career interception.
James Cook: Seven carries for 26 yards with a long run of 7; two catches, 10 yards, but also: two dropped passes and a fumble. There must be a disconnect from what coaches see in practice and what Cook showed on game day.
Jermaine Burton: While only a freshman, Burton’s skills are celebrated. So much so that one catch for 13 yard, a holding penalty and a misread route that resulted in an interception represents “stock down.”
Demetris Robertson: It was a red flag when Robertson didn’t start, and Saturday was a tough beginning to the season for the fifth-year senior. D-Rob had four catches for 29 yards, but also, a drop and a motion penalty.
Georgia-Arkansas football game stories