ATHENS — Kirby Smart would be the first to say Georgia has yet to play its best football, and considering how Saturday went, that’s a very good thing.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech 37-14, but not before trailing at the end of the first quarter and holding a scant 10-7 halftime lead.
It’s fair to say Georgia has appeared to play down to the level of its opponents at times this season, most notably in wins over a 5-7 Kent State team (39-22) and 6-6 Missouri (26-22).
“There’s no area that we can’t improve on,” Smart said after the win over the Yellow Jackets. “Let’s be honest, we’ve got a lot of areas we need to improve.”
At the end of the day, this Georgia team finds ways to win, and Smart’s reloaded team has grown as the season has progressed by focusing on one game at a time.
Next up, it’s a 9-3 LSU football program that has battered Kirby Smart-coached Georgia squads in the two most recent meetings in 2018 (36-16) and 2019 (37-10).
There are still a handful of Bulldogs’ players around who remember that most recent meeting, including tailback Kenny McIntosh.
“I’ve been wanting to play LSU again,” said McIntosh, who was a freshman when the teams last met. “They got a good team over there, and we got a good team.”
McIntosh has proven the most dynamic back Georgia has had since D’Andre Swift, piling up yards from scrimmage in each of the past two outings.
Some Georgia players have been playing better than others, of late:
Kenny McIntosh carried the offense for the second straight game. His 177 combined yards rushing and receiving were the most by a UGA back since D’Andre Swift in 2018.
Jamon Dumas-Johnson had four tackles, two QB hurries and a forced fumble, filling up the stat sheet and keep UGA properly aligned.
Smael Mondon Jr.’s 6 tackles led the defense and he appeared elite stopping the run in the second half.
Ladd McConkey came up with 39-yard punt return in one instance and made an athletic play to tip and catch a punt he downed at the Georgia Tech 1-yard line.
Jack Podlesny was perfect on his field goals once again, connecting from 30, 50 and 36 yards.
Daijun Edwards continues to churn out yards breaking loose on an 18-yard carry and finishing with 61 yards on his 8 carries.
Kendall Milton started the game and is playing his way back into form, breaking off a 44-yard TD run among his 4 carries for 56 yards.
Kelee Ringo had 5 tackles and 3 pass break-ups after being targeted by Georgia Tech 9 times.
Punter Brett Thorson boomed two kicks 87 yards, including the 51-yarder McConkey downed at the 1-yard line.
Stetson Bennett was 10-of-18 passing for 135 yards and 2 TDs, but there were some missed throws and opportunities he would likely like to have back.
Brock Bowers was targeted 7 times, making 5 catches for 20 yards including a spectacular TD catch on a ball throw right above the turf in the end zone.
Jalen Carter played 45 snaps but had only two tackles, as Georgia Tech did better neutralizing him than any previous opponent.
Malaki Starks had one of his rougher outings, caught out of position on one of Georgia Tech’s key pass plays and grading out 13th among UGA defenders per PFF.