Georgia football stock report: Kirby Smart’s roster management survives Kent State test

091722 Columbia: Georgia defensive back Malaki Starks intercepts a Spencer Rattler pass intended for South Carolina running back Juju McDowell and makes a long return setting up a Georgia scoring drive during the first quarter in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Columbia. “Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com

ATHENS — Georgia football CEO and head coach Kirby Smart says his program is better off having played an ugly game with Kent State, and that would indeed make sense.

Smart was able to effectively manage his roster by holding out key players while also winning a football game 39-22 and holding on to the No. 1 ranking.

Smart’s objective is to win another national championship with the Bulldogs, and he knows better than anyone how important roster management is with a backloaded scheduled.

RELATED: Stetson Bennett delivers real truth on ugly win over Kent State

There was no reason to push A.D. Mitchell (ankle) into playing, or lean on Kenny McIntosh (thigh) to go back into the game or use Jalen Carter (ankle) any more than needed.

Just as there’s no reason for Brock Bowers to have more than 18 touches through four games, as no one has really pushed Georgia yet.

Players like Mitchell, McIntosh, Carter and Bowers will be needed for UGA to survive a November slate that includes red-hot Tennessee and potentially tricky road trips to Mississippi State and Kentucky.

STOCK UP

Brock Bowers: There might not be a better player in college football — a thought most have any time Bowers makes a great run or an athletic catch.

Jamon Dumas-Johnson: The sophomore is asserting himself as a leader on the field with team-highs in sacks (2) and tackles (6). Next, “JDJ” can grow into a leader capable of holding teammates accountable off the field, as well.

Malaki Starks: Not a perfect day for the freshman safety, but his six tackles and pass break-up show his ability to be around the ball and finish plays.

STOCK EVEN

Daijun Edwards: A workhorse in the backfield, Edwards is doing what he does, breaking tackles and grinding out tough yardage.

Kendall Milton: There hasn’t been much running room for No. 2, but he produced the longest run by a tailback this season with his 27-yard burst.

Georgia title hopes: Nothing has changed in the Bulldogs march for an SEC and CFP championship. Smart and his staff have some “teaching tape” off this game and may have more of their team’s attention.

STOCK DOWN

Stetson Bennett: There wasn’t really anywhere else for Bennett to go but down after his big-time performances against Oregon and South Carolina. Bennett missed some throws and threw his first interception of the season. His run at the goal-line was also less than textbook.

WATCH: GameDay’s Desmond Howard says “pump brakes” on Stetson Heisman Trophy talk

Offensive guards: Georgia’s offensive line couldn’t impose its will on Kent State enough for the Golden Flashes to show any signs of quit. Yardage between the tackles has not come easy.

Home schedule: It has been ugly for Georgia season-ticket holders with some of the non-conference games brought to Sanford Stadium while other marquee games are sold to Atlanta or Jacksonville. The Georgia Tech home and home has carried little value for TV exposure, ticket holders or recruiting opportunities of late.

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