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Justin Fields had a huge game on Saturday against UMass.

Winners and losers from Georgia’s win against UMass

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Winners and losers from Georgia’s win against UMass

Winner: Justin Fields, freshman quarterback

Justin Fields, the No. 2 overall recruit in the 2018 class, finally lived up to the hype. Yes, he played well earlier in the year against Tennessee, but Saturday was the first time that Fields shined with his arm. The freshman quarterback completed 5 of his 8 passes for 121 yards. He was quick and decisive, as demonstrated by his 54-yard connection with tight end Isaac Nauta. He stood in the pocket with a defender closing in on him and delivered a strike to Riley Ridley, his first passing touchdown of the day.

Oh and there was the absolutely perfect pass he threw to Mecole Hardman for a 57-yard touchdown.

Now before everyone gets too excited, Jake Fromm was also great on Saturday as he completed all five of his pass attempts. We’re not saying Fields is going to take the starting quarterback job away from Fromm. But this is exactly the kind of performance Fields needed to have, especially after how he played against Auburn, albeit in limited opportunities.

Fields validated the playing time he’s earned so far this season, and put himself in a position to earn more as Georgia readies for Georgia Tech and Alabama. He showed that he’s just as dangerous with his arm as he is with his legs. And that is now something the Yellow Jackets and Crimson Tide will have to prepare for going forward.

Loser: Monty Rice, sophomore linebacker

The Bulldogs lost their leading tackler in a freak injury just before the start of Saturday’s game. Georgia sophomore Monty Rice has been Georgia’s best linebacker this season. While he isn’t Roquan Smith yet, he’s done as good a job as he possibly can as a first-year starter. This is what makes his foot injury all the worse.

Rice injured his foot during pre-game warmups on Saturday, and spent the game on crutches instead of in uniform. Rice has 59 tackles this year, and that’s despite having now missed two games for Georgia.

Related: Pre-game injury to Georgia LB Monty Rice adds to front seven woes

His health will be something to watch going forward because the Bulldogs absolutely need him. Georgia Tech is the No. 1 rushing team in the country, and Alabama is Alabama. The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide had a few players of their own pick up injuries on Saturday — starting running back Damien Harris got a mild concussion — but Georgia’s chances of beating Alabama are much lower if Rice can’t play.

Winner: James Cook, freshman running back

Fields led Georgia in rushing on Saturday, as he finished the game with 100 yards. But it’s not like the rest of the Georgia running backs were slouches either. Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien both found the endzone. D’Andre Swift again looked impressive as he made a number of defenders miss. But the most impressive Georgia running back was freshman James Cook.

Cook hasn’t really had a ton of chances to shine this year, given that Georgia s stacked at the position. But the freshman from Miami showed that he can be every bit as explosive as Swift if given the opportunity. Cook touched the ball four times on Saturday. He had a total of 99 yards on those four touches, nearly averaging 25 yards per touch. He found the end zone twice as he just sprinted past a number of UMass defenders.

Health has been an issue for Swift this season.If he’s not at 100 percent, it looks like there might not be a huge drop-off from Swift to Cook. Much like Fields did, Cook showed that he is a threat that teams are going to have to prepare for going forward.

Loser: Georgia’s pass defense while defending Andy Isabella

Georgia players knew who Andy Isabella was coming into the weekend, given that he was the leading the country in catches and yards. And he showed why he’s one of the nation’s best against what many considered an outstanding Georgia secondary.

The senior wide receiver finished the game with a career-best 15 catches for 219 yards. He scored twice, including once on a double pass where he weaved his way through the Georgia defense.

Related: Georgia Bulldogs’ secondary gets torched by UMass WR Andy Isabella

It is worth pointing out that most of Isabella’s stats came in the second half (he had 59 receiving yards at halftime), and that Deandre Baker, he Georgia defensive back who is considered to be the team’s best overall player, didn’t play in the second half at all. But none of that will appease Kirby Smart. And with Alabama’s treasure trove of talented wide receivers, the Georgia secondary is going to have to play much, much better going forward.

Smart and the secondary are going to have a much better gameplan when the two teams meet in Atlanta on Dec. 1.

Winner: Tyler Simmons, junior wide receiver

Tyler Simmons had his best game as Georgia player on Saturday as he found the endzone twice. Once on a 49-yard touchdown to start the game, and then later on a 71-yard touchdown catch.

This isn’t the first time Simmons has scored this year — he had a touchdown catch against Auburn last week. Every week this season, Simmons has gotten better. Smart has long praised his abilities as a blocker, and now it looks like his pass catching skills are getting to that level as well. It’s great to see a guy start out as special teams player blossom into an incredibly useful player on offense or defense. Simmons progress should offer a road map to other players on how to get onto the field more.

Related: Tyler Simmons the latest Georgia football WR to emerge

Of course anytime Simmons does something of note, a number of Georgia fans take the time to let people know that Simmons was onside when he blocked a punt, but was penalized in last year’s national championship game against Alabama. Not to come off as a whiner, but I really wish fans would stop doing this. For one, Simmons deserves better than to be reminded of this every time he does something good. And second, the offsides play came at the beginning of the third quarter. Alabama still ended up punting on the possession. Georgia had plenty of other opportunities to win the game, and it could not do so. A controversial offsides call in the third quarter does not change that Georgia couldn’t slow down Tua Tagovailoa or that Georgia blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

So please, just let the “Tyler Simmons was onside meme” die and let’s celebrate him instead for the player he has become.

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