Georgia football-Kirby Smart-Buster Faulkner
Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart calls in a play against the LSU Tigers during the second half of the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Kirby Smart on Georgia football defensive performance: ‘It won’t be accepted or tolerated’

Related: Georgia football-LSU instant observations as Bulldogs come out on top in 2022 SEC Championship

But those big plays eschew what was a season-worst performance. LSU put up 549 yards of total offense, with 502 of those coming in the air.

Georgia gave up 30 points in a game for the first time all season.

“Our guys understand as the year goes on, teams tackle poorly, teams cover poorly. Defense usually deteriorates,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “That’s not the culture here. It won’t be accepted or tolerated, so we got to fix it.”

Game script certainly played a part in the way LSU attacked. The Tigers were down 35-10 coming out of halftime and had no choice but to throw the ball.

Jayden Daniels threw for 208 yards in the first half, but he came up injured when Carter lifted him off the ground. Garrett Nussmeier entered the game in the second half and began spraying the ball all over the field. He hit on numerous big plays as he threw for 294 yards on 27 passing attempts. He threw two touchdowns, with many of the big plays coming in coverage against Kelee Ringo and Malaki Starks.

With a possible College Football Playoff game looming against potent Ohio State or TCU passing offenses, the Georgia defense knows it will need to bounce back.

“We all know Kelee is a good player, top player in this class. Just have to get his confidence back,” Dumas-Johnson said. “Teammates will rally around him.”

Of course, LSU never got too close as the Georgia defense was able to make some big stands in the second half. It stuffed LSU on a fourth-and-one in the red zone. Smith added an interception in the fourth quarter, giving him three on the season.

Then Robert Beal sacked and stripped Nussmeier, with Warren Brinson following on a fumble. Georgia did finish the game with 4.0 sacks.

Still, Saturday was very far from the Georgia standard. Defensive players celebrated the SEC championship win, something this group failed to do a season ago.

But with nearly a month of practices before Georgia takes the field again for the College Football Playoff semifinals, very likely on the same field that Saturday’s game was played, the Bulldogs know they will need a better effort.

“We got a lot of work to do,” Smith said. “Definitely don’t flush it. But we were able to come out on top with a great team win. We got to get back to the drawing board and continue to work.”

Jamon Dumas-Johnson discusses UGA defensive performance in win over LSU

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