KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Kirby Smart is among those who believe players are either getting better or worse, and there’s only one acceptable direction in his program.
The No. 1-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (10-0, 8-0 SEC) have been bought in throughout the offseason, and the results have been reflected throughout an undefeated run through the league portion of the schedule.
UGA shrugged off a slow start on Saturday afternoon in Tennessee to beat the Vols 41-17.
Here’s a look at select Georgia players whose stock is soaring, going up and staying even on the heels of the win over Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.
Channing Tindall: The Bulldogs’ senior inside linebacker is coming to fruition, and Saturday was his time to record 3 sacks in one outing. Tindall’s run pursuit has been noted all season, but his pass-rush ability surfaced on Rocky Top.
James Cook: The offensive MVP, this senior running back put together a dynamic outing, matching his career-high with 104 yards rushing and helping Georgia stay in the game early with his 39-yard TD run. Cook also had 3 catches for 43 yards including a slick 23-yard TD catch.
Nakobe Dean: Dean came up with at least two huge third-down stops with a PBU and a TFL. The “commander in chief” of defense as Kirby Smart calls him had a team-high 11 tackles.
Adonai Mitchell: The freshman was due for a breakout game and his 5 catches for 65 yards, and he made a diving catch to help convert a third down on a miss-thrown pass.
Kenny McIntosh: The junior back looked better with each carry, finishing with 46 yards and a touchdown on his 7 carries. McIntosh also had a screen pass he took for 4 yards.
Jack Podlesny: Podlesny’s 40-yard field goal in the second quarter enabled Georgia to keep pace with the Vols’ hot start. It was a pressure kick, so it should restore some confidence.
Lewis Cine: Cine’s coverage skills were so impressive, as were his instincts and ability to stay on top of the plays.
Brock Bowers: The freshman tight end had the most amazing catch of the night, but the ball was too off target for Bowers to remain in bounds. Bowers did have a 24-yard rush, and he also made an open-field tackle on the punt coverage team.
Jordan Davis: Tennessee’s fast tempo seemed to neutralize the Bulldogs’ giant defensive tackle. Davis had just two tackles and didn’t seem to impact the contest like he has others.
Latavious Brini: The defensive back appeared to get a quick hook from Kirby Smart, who helps coach up the secondary. Tennessee had a receiver running wide open behind the secondary on its opening drive.
Fan appreciation: There was an amazing amount of red in the crowd at Neyland Stadium, so it was surprising that it was not mentioned in the postgame press conference.