NEW ORLEANS — Georgia tailback Zamir White found his groove, shaking off a slow start in the Sugar Bowl to find the end zone and his confidence.
White had a season-high 18 carries for 92 yards and a 13-yard TD run in the Bulldogs’ 26-14 win over Baylor on Wednesday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“The knees felt good,” said White, who made his first career start with D’Andre Swift limited and senior Brian Herrien not available to the team.
“It was just practicing and drills, and finally getting out here and going through entire drives.”
No doubt, Coach Kirby Smart had predicted the bowl practices would prove valuable for several young players.
White was one of three UGA freshmen to make their first career starts on offense: Receiver George Pickens and lineman Warren Ericson also enjoyed breakthrough performances.
White, a powerful 6-foot, 210-pounder, had at times resembled the so-called “bull in a china shop” on runs earlier this season. White hit the designated holes full force regardless of the bodies before him, looking to stay true to his assignments and ensure positive yardage.
But against Baylor, White showed wiggle and vision. The former 5-star prospect made cuts that tested both of his surgically-repaired knees, while also making him that much more effective.
“Really, the recovery, it’s more mental than physical,” White said, asked about regaining the cutting and wiggle dimensions in his game. “It’s a mindset of getting back out there and doing it, and trusting yourself to be out there.”
White did drop a pass — an area he clearly needs work in — but he came up big in the ground game, including a pivotal 7-yard blast from his own 1-yard line to help stem Baylor’s rally.
White was humble as ever when asked about the run, another reason he’s immensely popular with teammates and fans.
“That run right there, Charlie Woerner blocked two people for me, I thank him, man,” White said. “That run wasn’t possible without Charlie, he had the great block, and that’s it.”
White credited George Pickens, Tyler Simmons and Matt Landers for blocks on some of his longer runs, including a 13-yard touchdown run that gave the Bulldogs a 26-7 lead with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
As well as the Georgia defense was playing, it was essentially a game-clinching score.
The Bulldogs players are headed for a break, now interested spectators in the recruiting game as Kirby Smart looks to finish out what could be another top-rated class.
“Yeah, we get great backs, RBU,” White said. “We need those guys coming in next year, so we’re looking forward to having them.”
Swift has yet to officially declare for the NFL draft, but his decision is expected soon.
DawgNation Sugar Bowl Game Stories