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Winners and Losers from Georgia’s win over Kentucky
Winner: Georgia’s running backs
Coming into Saturday, Kentucky running back Benny Snell was the SEC’s leading rusher. By the end of the 34-17 Georgia win, Snell had the third most rushing yards of any running back in the game.
Sophomore running back D’Andre Swift ran for a career-high 156 yards and two touchdowns while junior Elijah Holyfield also rushed for a career-high 115 yards and a touchdown. In total, Georgia ran for 331 yards.
“We wanted to kind of prove a point today,” Holyfield told reporters after the game. “There was a lot of talk about their run offense and not enough talk about us. So, we took that little chip on our shoulder today and showed why we run the ball.”
Both of Swift’s touchdowns were rather magnificent while Holyfield continued to just wear down Kentucky over the course of the day with his 18 carries. The 331 rushing yards were the most for Georgia in a single game this season, and it came against what was a top-20 rushing defense and the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense.
*looks up the definition of swift* pic.twitter.com/HfiP5INqvK
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 3, 2018
A lot is going to be made about the Georgia-Alabama matchup in the weeks to come. If Georgia is able to run like it did against Kentucky, Georgia is going to have a chance at toppling the Crimson Tide.
Loser: Georgia’s offensive line health
Another week, another set of injuries to the Georgia offensive line. Freshman guard Cade Mays left the game with a stinger, and he was replaced by senior Kendall Baker. The more serious injury came when senior center Lamont Gaillard left the game with what UGA coach Kirby Smart called a hyperextended knee.
Related: Georgia football injury report
Gaillard was replaced at center by Trey Hill. While the Georgia offensive line still paved the way for Swift and Holyfield, the freshman center Hill did have a botched snap, which led to a fumble with the Bulldogs in Kentucky territory.
With Gaillard suffering an injury, he becomes the fourth Georgia starting offensive linemen this year to exit a game and not return. The others are left tackle Andrew Thomas, left guard Solomon Kindley and right guard Ben Cleveland, who have all missed time. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Wilson is the only Week 1 starter from Georgia’s offensive line to not miss anytime this season.
The injuries and constant rotation might be a reason Georgia has really struggled in prime scoring situations these last two weeks, as Florida and Kentucky both stuffed the Bulldogs on the goal line. And while Auburn has been a bit of a disappointment this season, it’s front seven is still very, very good. Georgia is going to need to have as many of its best offensive linemen available come Saturday night.
Winner: Georgia’s offensive line depth
Having just written about the concerns of Georgia’s offensive line, it’s also worth pointing out that it is still one of the nation’s best offensive lines. Even with Georgia having to sub out two starting offensive linemen on Saturday, it had no problem opening up holes all Saturday.
Andrew Thomas, even when he isn’t 100 percent, is maybe the nation’s best offensive tackle. Solomon Kindley is a monster in run blocking, and Mays has lived up to his 5-star billing. And even when one of them has to sub out, you could do a lot worse than Baker as a replacement.
And while sophomore Ben Cleveland didn’t play last week against Kentucky, he did dress and travel with the team. He should be another week closer to playing, and he would make an already great and powerful offensive line even better. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman has shown this season why he is the nation’s best offensive line coach. He’s able to recruit the top players in the country and develop them, making him perhaps Georgia’s most valuable position coach.
Loser: The SEC East
DawgNation Daily host Brandon Adams coined the phrase, but Georgia has truly “Owned the East.” Against SEC East foes, Georgia is 12-0 in the past two seasons. Not a single one of those games has been decided by fewer than 14 points.
And here’s the thing, the SEC East may not be getting a whole lot better. Sure, Dan Mullen and Will Muschamp may continue to make strides at Florida and South Carolina respectively, but they’re not going to be able to out-recruit Georgia. Missouri figures to take a step back next year after losing quarterback Drew Lock while Kentucky is going to lose a number of seniors off this year’s team. As for Tennessee, it beat Charlotte by a score of 14-3 on Saturday, and hasn’t beaten an SEC East team since 2016.
Georgia is also one of the youngest teams in the conference. Given its youth and recruiting success, Georgia figures to only get better next season. It looks like the Bulldogs are going to continue to “Own the East” for years to come.
Winner: Georgia’s freshmen in the front seven
Much has been made of Georgia’s front seven in recent weeks, especially after giving up 275 rushing yards against LSU. Well, the linebackers and defensive line played their best game of the season on Saturday. Snell, Kentucky’s star running back, was held to just 73 yards, while Georgia picked up a season high 4.0 sacks. And none of those came from D’Andre Walker, the team’s best pass rusher.
Channing Tindall got his first sack of the season on Saturday, as did Brenton Cox. Adam Anderson and Robert Beal Jr. also made life difficult for Kentucky on Saturday as did mammoth freshman defensive tackle Jordan Davis. These guys are all freshmen, with Beal Jr. being the only redshirt freshman.
Georgia is still very young in the front seven, and as Smart pointed out afterwards, Georgia still needs to get better.
“And we’re a young team. We’ve got some good seniors around us, but for the most part when you do walk-throughs, you do these meetings, you see a lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Smart said.
While the run defense might not be a strength this year, it could quickly turn into one given the impressive group of freshmen Georgia has coming through the ranks.
Best stories from around DawgNation
- What Kentucky said after losing to Georgia
- WATCH Jake Fromm: Georgia football starting to gel, still an ‘uphill climb’
- The best social media reactions from Georgia’s SEC East-clinching win over Kentucky
- REPORT CARD: A good effort lands Georgia win over Kentucky and SEC East, but Dogs want more
- Game time, TV Channel for Georgia-Auburn game announced
- Georgia Bulldogs wanted to prove to Kentucky their run game was better
- WATCH: Kirby Smart says Georgia ‘came out scratching and clawing’ vs. Kentucky
Dawgs on Twitter
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) November 4, 2018
SEC EAST CHAMPIONS &
4-0 As A Senior vs Kentucky !!!! #GoDawgs yessssirrr
— D'Andre Walker (@DAndreWalker15) November 3, 2018
DAWGS CONTROLL THE EAST GREAT WIN!!! @FootballUGA
— QuavoYRN (@QuavoStuntin) November 3, 2018
— UGA (@universityofga) November 3, 2018
Good Dog of the Day
Meet Oggie and Opal. Oggie nibbles when he’s nervous, and he gets nervous on car rides. Opal never agreed to this. Both 13/10 pic.twitter.com/lgUFiO6Uwy
— WeRateDogs™ (@dog_rates) November 5, 2018