Georgia stock report: Bulldogs’ elite program soars in 27-13 win over Tennessee

Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Malaki Starks (24) tackles Tennessee Volunteers running back Jaylen Wright (20) during the first half in a NCAA football game, at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, November 5, 2022, in Athens, Ga. Also shown on the play is Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson (10). Georgia won 27-13. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Top to bottom, the Georgia football program was put to the test on Saturday.

Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs’ players and fans were up to the challenge as Georgia scored a 27-13 victory, stifling a Tennessee offense that had averaged nearly 50 points and more than 550 yards per game.

It’s not often that a crowd plays a direct effect on the outcome of a game, but that’s what happened at Sanford Stadium with deafening levels of noise measured at more than 136 decibels reverberating down on Vince Dooley Field.

“Dawg Nation never ceases to amaze me,” UGA athletic director Josh Brooks said. “I’m not sure about decibel meters, but the human ear Saturday was enough to demonstrate how our fans rise to every challenge and show why they are Elite.”

The Vols were overwhelmed by the home-field advantage Georgia fans created, whistled for six false starts as Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker was sacked six times.

Josh Heupel explained to his Tennessee team after the game that, " you’ve got to understand what you’re getting yourself into and the atmosphere and the energy you’re going to get from everybody — not just from their program — but from their fans, too.”

Smart said there was no doubt the noise played a role in this first-ever battle of No. 1-ranked teams, the Vols the choice of the College Football Playoff committee, while the Bulldogs were No. 1 in the AP and Coaches’ polls.

“You can’t account for that point-two seconds of get off,” Smart said. “That changes the rush.”

The back end of Georgia’s defense, meanwhile, was razor sharp in not allowing an offensive play of more than 17 yards until less than 5 minutes remained and the game was decided.

“Players on this team were bought in, and they understood the plan, they executed the plan and they played extremely physical,” Smart said. “They played without ego, and they played complementary football.”

Georgia was in complete control by halftime, up 24-6, to the extent the Bulldogs played conservatively and carefully on offense as rain fell in the second half, running the ball 21 times and attempting just four passes.

The game appeared headed for a much more lopsided margin before the rain came and served to keep it closer.

Stock soaring

Georgia home crowd: The head coaches said it all, as it was reminiscent of a 2019 home setting for Notre Dame, when the Sanford Stadium crowd helped trigger 6 false start and 3 Irish timeouts in a 23-17 victory.

Coaching staff: Georgia’s ability to shut down the fastest-paced, highest-scoring team was a combination of talent, preparation and scheme. The offense was brutally efficient.

Javon Bullard: You don’t often see defensive backs get two sacks in one game, but Glenn Schumann drew it up and Bullard executed, also making seven stops.

Jalen Carter: A one-man wrecking machine, Carter forced two fumbles, and had two tackles-for-loss and a sack. This disruptive force stepped up and played a season-high 48 snaps.

Ladd McConkey: McConkey answered the call on the perimeter, leading Georgia with 5 catches for 94 yards and a TD. McConkey used his elite speed and quickness to get 42 of his yards after the catch.

Malaki Starks: The true freshman led Georgia with 10 tackles and had a pass breakup. The fact Tennessee wasn’t able to break a play longer than 17 yards until there were less than five minutes left says everything about the safety play.

Stock up

Arian Smith: Labeled a “situational” player before the season, Smith learned enough of the playbook tom one down with a 52-yard catch that sent a message to the Vols’ secondary early.

Sedrick Van Pran: Clean snaps throughout the action, even as the game grew fierce and conditions turned sloppy.

Brett Thorson: The freshman boomed a 75-yard punt that went out of bounds at the 1-yard line and will never be forgotten.

Stetson Bennett: Bennett used his arm, legs and mind in keeping the Georgia offense on the rails, 17-of-25 passing for 257 yards and 2 TDs and a 13-yard TD scramble.

Kenny McIntosh: The senior captain set the tone with hard runs early, charging for 52 yards on 10 carries and catching 2 passes for another 57 yards.

Stock down

Untimely RB subbing: We get it, there’s depth. But taking the ball out of McIntosh’s hands early in the game after he had started strong proved costly as Daijun Edwards’ fumble led to a 3-0 Tennessee lead. Later, after Georgia recovered a fumble, a true freshman rotated in amid heavy rain and fumbled the ball back.

UGA News

NextGeorgia stock report: Stars rise, team bonds amid adversity
Leave a Comment