ATHENS — Georgia football has yet to resemble the past two championship models, but Kirby Smart felt his team showed improvement on Saturday night.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs broke away for a 49-21 win over UAB at Sanford Stadium, breaking loose from a 7-7 second quarter tie.

“Proud of the hunger the team showed,” Smart said after the Bulldogs won their 31st-straight regular-season game and 22nd-straight home game.

“I thought we were really aggressive and played faster, especially on offense. Just looked to be in rhythm a lot better.”

Much of that rhythm amounted to quick passes to All-American tight end Brock Bowers, who carried the pass game on his back with 110 yards of his 121 receiving yards coming after the catch.

The Georgia defense gave up an uncharacteristic three touchdowns at home, the first time that had happened since a 31-24 win over Mississippi State in 2020.

The Bulldogs’ defense was missing safety Javon Bullard and defensive end Mykel Williams, but Smart was not about to use that for an excuse.

“Your defense is your defense,” Smart said. “You have to plug and play.”

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Stock Soaring

Brock Bowers looked strong catching the football and running through tackles, to the tune of 9 catches for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Tykee Smith has recorded interceptions in each of the past three games and has emerged as a leader and playmaker.

Daijun Edwards has brought an edge to the run game, showing power and vision in churning out much-needed yardage.

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Brock Vandagriff ran the offense quickly and efficiently in his limited snaps, bringing a noticeable energy. Mike Bobo and Smart surely noted the element his mobility brought.

Earnest Greene lll graded out highest among the UGA offensive linemen, taking a big — and necessary — step forward at the left tackle position.

Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint was the top receiver among the pass-catchers with three receptions for 94 yards including a game-high 50-yard grab. Smart said he hadn’t practiced all week.

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Mekhi Mews remains a great story and explosive return man, but his fumbled punt return in the second quarter led directly to a UAB touchdown.

Arian Smith had trouble connecting with Beck on what appeared to be an open deep shot and was limited to one catch for 12 yards.

Gunner Stockton completed 2 of 3 passes for 19 yards, but he also threw an interception.