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Roquan Smith hauls in Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall for one of his nine tackles in the Saturday victory.

Georgia football’s 5 best players against Georgia Tech

Cy Brown

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Before you spend the rest of your week counting down the minutes to the rematch with Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, take a moment to savor the 38-7 beatdown of Georgia Tech. It wasn’t just a sound beating, it was a simple one, too. From the first series, the result was never in doubt thanks to great individual performances from a number of Bulldogs. Here are Georgia’s five best performers from the win over the Yellow Jackets.

5. Jake Fromm — Fromm looked shaky early with a few mistimed passes, but he settled into the game nicely. The freshman passed for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 78-yarder to Ahkil Crumpton, in his first game against Georgia Tech. Fromm is constantly compared to Aaron Murray, and now Fromm has taken the first step toward accomplishing one feat that made Murray such a beloved Bulldog: going 4-0 against Georgia Tech.

4. Javon Wims — Hardly a game goes by that Wims doesn’t make a spectacular play while falling out-of-bounds. He set up the first touchdown of the day with amazing body control on a 12-yard catch that was ruled out-of-bounds instead of a touchdown at the goal line. He got his, however, and scored on a 21-yard strike from Fromm in the second quarter. All told, Wims had 5 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.

3. D’Andre Walker — Walker has shown flashes of brilliance all season, but the Georgia Tech game was his most complete performance yet. He racked up 6 solo tackles and 2 tackles for loss. On one series, he created a three-and-out by himself, getting a tackle, tackle for loss and another tackle on three consecutive plays. Without Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy in front of him next season, Walker could be a star.

2. Sony Michel — It wasn’t a huge day for Michel, but he was quietly excellent, just as he has been his entire Georgia career. He ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against the Yellow Jackets and passed Todd Gurley in the Georgia record book for third all-time in career rushing (3,289 yards) behind only Nick Chubb and Herschel Walker.

1. Roquan Smith — Smith showed why he’s one of the best players in college football with his performance against Georgia Tech. The junior was all over the place snuffing out the Yellow Jackets’ ground game, leading the team with 9 total tackles, 8 solo, 3 tackles for loss and a sack. Regardless of whether or not Smith comes back for his senior season, he’ll join the likes of Terry Hoage, Champ Bailey, David Pollack and Juston Houston in the pantheon of great Georgia defenders.

‘You don’t shake a memory’

There was a lot of talk from Georgia coach Kirby Smart in the aftermath of the loss to Auburn about putting it in the past and moving on. And that was a smart approach, until a few weeks later when the rematch rolls around. Then there’s nothing you can do except stare that loss right in the face.

To his credit, Smart doesn’t seem to be avoiding the elephant in the room and pretending the blowout loss at Auburn didn’t happen. Instead, he and his players are confronting it, hoping to learn from their mistakes and avoid repeating them. From Seth Emerson of DawgNation:

“You don’t shake a memory. You put it in their face,” Smart said. “We’ve got to play with more discipline and composure to avoid some of the knucklehead decisions we made in the first game.”

It was a great quote, one that Smart hedged on a bit later in a conference call with the media Sunday evening. He didn’t want to make it sound like the coaches had berated the players about what went wrong that night, when Georgia lost 40-17, dominated in both phases, while committing four 15-yard penalties.

“We’re more technical. We’ve got to coach them on what they’ve got to do right,” Smart said. “We’re trying to find ways to help them, not just rub their faces in it.”

Status of Kerryon Johnson uncertain

Auburn came out of the Iron Bowl with a win over Alabama and a trip to the SEC Championship Game, but it didn’t do it unscathed. Star tailback Kerryon Johnson left the game with a shoulder injury, as did his backup, Kam Martin. On Sunday, coach Gus Malzahn said he was uncertain on Johnson’s status for the title game.

“I’m not sure if he’s going to be able to practice (Sunday) or not. We’ll see,” Malzahn said, according to Emerson. “We’ll check on him daily and see what his status is. Right now it’s really hard to say.”

Johnson, a junior, leads the SEC in rushing yards per outing with 127.6 yards per game, as well as 1,276 yards and 17 touchdowns in total. He ran for 167 yards on 5.2 yards per carry in Auburn’s 40-17 win over Georgia.

By the numbers

From Seth Emerson:

  • 10: Georgia victories by 14 points or more this season.
  • 1: Georgia victories by 14 points or more last season.
  • 10: Seasons in Georgia football history when it won at least 11 games. This is the fifth time it has happened since 2002.
  • 3: Seasons that Georgia has won 12 games or more: 1980, 2002 and 2012.
  • 35: Most points Georgia scored in a game last season.
  • 7: Georgia has exceeded 35 points seven times this season.
  • 2010: The last year the SEC Championship Game was a rematch from the regular season. The results: Auburn beat then-No. 12 South Carolina on Sept. 25 of that year 35-27, and then beat then-No. 18 South Carolina in the Georgia Dome, 56-17.
  • 2008: The last year an East team won the SEC championship. (Florida beat Alabama, 38-20).
  • 24: The average margin of victory for the West team over the East team in every SEC Championship Game since. The closest game was in 2012, a 4-point game. Opponent and circumstances of that game probably do not need to be pointed out to readers of this page.

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