ATHENS — Georgia has looked like the most complete and best football team in the nation from the opening kick this season, and now that Alabama has lost, the Bulldogs have been elevated to No. 1.
Georgia football stock is soaring, to the extent ESPN College GameDay will be making its second appearance in Athens in the past three weeks.
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On the field, Coach Kirby Smart has put a worthy product between the lines and capable coaches on the sideline and in the skybox. UGA is coming off an impressive 34-10 win at Auburn.
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The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (6-0) opened as a huge favorite over No. 11 Kentucky (6-0) in the 3:30 p.m. game at Sanford Stadium coming this Saturday.
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It has been a team effort, with several players stepping up and performing — even out-performing — the players once ahead of them on the depth chart.
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Here’s a look at the whose stock is soaring, up and merely holding even:
Ladd McConkey: McConkey was tremendous with 5 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown in the victory while moving ahead of Jermaine Burton at the “Z” outside receiver position.
Adonai Mitchell: Mitchell made the trip to California to work out with JT Daniels and stayed the maximum number of days, and all that hard work is paying off as he has settled in as the top “X” receiver with George Pickens sidelined by an ACL and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint limited by an ankle.
Nakobe Dean: Dean is flying around the field making plays in most every capacity, as a pass rusher, run stopper and then making a diving interception off a tipped pass against Auburn. Dean also keeps the defense properly aligned.
Sedrick Van Pran: The redshirt freshman handled his center duties and the loud Jordan Hare Stadium crowd like it was a walk in the park. Van Pran’s rapid improvement has been a bright spot on the steadily improving offensive line.
Darnell Washington: The “Big 0″ is starting to get dialed in. As impressive as his 25-yard catch was, he nearly pulled in a one-handed highlight on the sideline. Stay tuned as Washington’s stock continues to rise.
Travon Walker: Walker is starting to make even more of an impact on games from his defensive end position. Walker had four tackles and a sack in the win over Auburn, which is seemingly his favorite program to haunt.
Broderick Jones: Could the Auburn game be the breakthrough moment for Jones as the left tackle everyone thought he might be when he was recruited? It’s Year Two, and all the talk has been that Jones was not powerful enough to hold up. Time will tell.
Zamir White: It was good to see White get vertical and ditch the stutter-step style, as he is much better when performing as a one-cut runner. White had 18 carries for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a powerful burst that saw him break two tackles.
Jack Podlesny: Podlesny made routine field goals of 21 and 23 yards but he clanked a 43-yarder off the upright.
Fourth-quarter play calling: It’s hard to understand the point of running into a stacked box. The coaches ask the players to be elite, why not allow for elite play calling, too?
Kelee Ringo: A dropped interception in the end zone nearly led to more points for Auburn. Offenses are going at Ringo, and the talented but still inexperienced freshman is operating with a sense of urgency to improve his skills each week.