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Georgia stock report: Kirby Smart secures first-ballot HOF status, Kenny McIntosh soars in Kentucky

November 19, 2022 Lexington, KY - Georgia's running back Kenny McIntosh (6) eludes a tackle by Kentucky's defensive back Zion Childress (bottom) during the first half in an NCAA football game at Kroger Field in Lexington, KY on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Georgia won 16-6 over Kentucky. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Georgia slugged it out on the road amid frigid conditions and returned to Athens with yet another double-digit win.

But the style points just weren’t there in that 16-6 win at Kentucky, and fans realized something that Kirby Smart has known all year about this reloaded team.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs are beatable — other teams have talented players and good coaches, too — and they will fight back.

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That script won’t change this week when Georgia plays host to a Georgia Tech team coming off a road win over No. 13 North Carolina.

The Yellow Jackets don’t have the physicality of Kentucky in the trenches, nor a first-round talent at quarterback or grizzled veteran runner like Chris Rodriguez.

But Georgia Tech will play with the same effort and desperation, as they look to earn bowl eligibility for what would be the first time since 2018.

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Of course, Georgia approaches each game as though it’s all about them: The Bulldogs know when they play their best, they’re essentially unbeatable.

Some UGA players are performing at a high level, ready to carry the team to an SEC Championship and spark another CFP title run, while other areas of the team could use some work.

Stock Soaring

Kirby Smart: The Georgia head coach joined the company of Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier as the only coaches to go unbeaten in back-to-back years since the league split into divisions in 1992. That, along with a national title, secures Smart as a first-ballot College Football Hall of Famer one day.

Kenny McIntosh rushed for a career-high 143 yards on 19 carries. McIntosh should see his average carries per game (10) go up in the postseason.

Smael Mondon Jr. was all over the field, registering a team-high 11 tackles along with the only QB hurry of the game.

Brett Thorson averaged 45.5 yards on his two punts and stuck both inside the Kentucky 20.

Jalen Carter drew the number of double teams you would expect and still registered 5.5 tackles and played a remarkable 46 snaps, continuing to make his case as the potential Outland Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick.

Stock Rising

Ladd McConkey continues to be the most dependable and explosive target on the perimeter, a three-down player who blocks as well as he catches and runs.

Javon Bullard not only played after suffering a lower-leg injury last week, but he also made 4 tackles and was in on a QB sack.

Kelee Ringo continued his knack for big plays, stealing a pass from Will Levis at the UGA 2-yard line to protect a 3-0 lead.

Jack Podlesny has been Mr. Automatic, even in winds that swirled to 20 mph he hit field goals of 27, 24 and 37 yards.

Stock Even

Stetson Bennett had a crafty 17-yard scramble, but he had some passing inconsistencies in the wind with a poor deep ball and two overthrows on would-be TD passes.

Run blocking: This one hurts because Georgia was starting to look like a Joe Moore Award winner before Kentucky stoned them at the 1-yard line and two other short-yardage downs. There are two more opportunities for redemption -- UGA could rush for 300 yards on Georgia Tech and will face a talented LSU defensive front in the SEC title game.

Cold weather: Several Georgia fans traveled and braved temperatures in the freezing range for two straight weeks. If the forecast for Saturday holds up — 60 and sunny- there shouldn’t be any more cold weather games this season.

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