Georgia stock report: SEC title cause for celebration, Ohio State pairing cause for concern

LSU Tigers wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (7) runs for a touchdown past Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Kelee Ringo (5) during the first half of the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Bob Andres / Bob Andres for the Atlanta Constitution)

ATHENS — Georgia football “checked the box” on Saturday and is ready for greater heights.

There is plenty of video evidence that the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs celebrated their 50-30 win over LSU in the SEC Championship Game in fitting fashion.

And, why not?

This “reloaded” Georgia team, filled with new blood and former backups, stepped into the shoes of the legendary NFL first-round talents before them and measured up.

This 2022 team — which Kirby Smart has said cannot be comprehended — has actually exceeded the 2021 group on the field to this point.

A daunting matchup with Ohio State is next in the CFP Peach Bowl Semifinal at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31, but first, some perspective on the SEC Champs.

RELATED: Kirby reacts to Ohio State pairing, pushes back on Herbstreit

STOCK SOARING

Chris Smith made the most game-changing plays with his alert 96-yard blocked field goal return to open the game’s scoring and a deflection that led to the interception that set up yet another score.

Todd Monken is a Broyles Award finalist and showed why with his timely play-calling and flawless prep. 50 points in an SEC title game? Monken’s phone will be ringing, but will he answer?

RELATED: Dawgs open as solid favorite, ESPN experts cite Atlanta stadium advantage

Jalen Carter dominated the line of scrimmage, erasing runs between the tackles and setting up teammates for sacks and TFLs when he wasn’t making them himself. Top 5 pick.

Kendall Milton had his first 100-yard game, and he needed only 8 carries to do it thanks to his 51-yard run. Will Milton return to lead the UGA backfield?

STOCK UP

Stetson Bennett had one of his most efficient games, 23-of-29 passing for 274 yards with 4 TDs. Bennett’s success should get him some Heisman Trophy consideration and lock him in for the Burlsworth Trophy.

Darnell Washington only had two catches, but his 14-yard TD grab excited UGA fans who had been calling for him to get a Red Zone target.

Brock Bowers makes a 6-catch, 81-yard day look routine these days, and with more opportunities would have been UGA’s best shot at the Heisman Trophy.

Jamon Dumas-Johnson managed five tackles on a day the Georgia defense got shredded for more than 500 yards. Hard to imagine JDJ was in much of a mood to celebrate.

STOCK EVEN

Ladd McConkey was on his way to a career day with 5 catches for 69 yards in the first half before a knee injury forced him out in the second quarter. McConkey is a pivotal player UGA needs to win it all.

RELATED: Kirby Smart updates Ladd McConkey and Warren McClendon injuries

Carson Beck didn’t get enough work this season to know for sure how invested Georgia is in him, but he’s a tremendous talent and he will be starting somewhere next season if not with the Bulldogs. This new 45-day free-agency period that starts today is a game-changer.

The Georgia defensive staff will be sharpening those coverage schemes LSU’s backup QB picked apart. Smart always takes responsibility, but players need to improve between now and when they face the great C.J. Stroud, who led the nation in pass efficiency.

UGA News

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