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Georgia football winners and losers following big win over Murray State
Winner: freshman wide receiver Dominick Blaylock
Everyone will want to read about fellow freshman George Pickens and rightfully so. Between his circus catches and bone-crushing blocks, he’s one of the most exciting young players Georgia has had in recent years.
But don’t lose sight of what Blaylock did on Saturday.
Blaylock saw game action for the first time after traveling but not playing in the Vanderbilt game. When Tyler Simmons briefly left the game with a minor injury, Blaylock filled in at punt returner and churned out an 11-yard gain. He then added 3 catches and his first career touchdown later in the game by housing a screen pass.
I love that we're finally seeing screens back in the offense. What I love seeing even more though, is everyone blocking. Seems like all of our WRs now love to get physical and block. pic.twitter.com/KyZ8GJCNV1
— PB 🗿 (@UGA_PB) September 8, 2019
While Murray State was overmatched physically, it’s still a positive sign to see Blaylock making the most out of his early playing time. Wide receiver was a major concern to begin the season but with the early progress shown by Blaylock, Pickens and Demetris Robertson, this group has a chance to be a real positive for the Georgia team.
Loser: Georgia pass defense
Coming into the game, Kirby Smart and the Georgia defense knew they were going to be tested by Murray State’s Air Raid offense. They were going to be spread out and the secondary was going to be put in a position to where it had to make a lot of one-on-one plays.
And early on in the game, Georgia had a pretty big bust. Junior defensive back Mark Webb got beat in coverage and surrendered a 60-yard touchdown catch to former Florida receiver Daquon Green.
“We had busted coverage on defense. They made a really good throw and catch,” Smart said of the play. “We were in man coverage and we didn’t have a middle field safety. And you when you don’t have a middle field safety and they catch it, they’re gonna take it the distance.”
On the day, Murray State starter Preston Rice completed 20 of his 25 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. Smart did admit to tweaking Georgia’s usual defensive gameplan and playing more aggressive. And while it paid off in some areas — the Bulldogs gave just 23 rushing yards — Georgia will need better efforts from the secondary going forward.
Winner: Georgia pass rush
The previously mentioned aggressive gameplan did greatly benefit Georgia’s pass rush. The Bulldogs racked up 6.0 sacks on the day, the most in a game since Smart became the head coach.
And it’s not like one player was consistently beating some poor Murray State player over and over again. The 6.0 sacks came from six different players. Nolan Smith led the way with 1.5 sacks, but Adam Anderson, Walter Grant, Travon Walker, Jermaine Johnson and Azeez Ojualri all chipped in as well.
Georgia is going to play better — and more physically equipped — offensive lines a season gets more difficult. But getting contributions from a multitude of pass rushers should excite Smart and the defensive staff. Other than Tindall’s sack, none of the quarterback takedowns came with Georgia having to commit additional bodies to the pass-rushing effort.
Going forward the Bulldogs should have the ability to get creative with the pass rusher and mix and match players to different downs and distances. On third down packages Georgia put Smith, Anderson and Walker all on the field. That combination of speed and power is going to be a nightmare for opposing offenses.
Loser: Georgia fans looking for a challenging road game against Tennessee
Tennessee thought they would try and replicate what Georgia did when it hired Kirby Smart. It went after Alabama’s defensive coordinator — Jeremy Pruitt — and named him head coach. Then they brought in Jim Chaney to run the offense — though the Volunteers did it going into Pruitt’s second season and paid Chaney a lot more money to do be their offensive coordinator
Naturally, you would think a melding of those minds would lead to improved results for Tennessee. Instead, things have actually gotten worse. After getting beat by Georgia State in the opener, the Volunteers blew a game to BYU this weekend in which they were leading BYU with less than 30-seconds left and the Cougars having to go 60-yards to get into field goal range.
It’s Tennessee’s first 0-2 start since 1988. Butch Jones, Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley never accomplished such a feat.
What some were calling a one-day threat to Georgia now looks like another failed coaching hire. The Bulldogs visit Tennessee on Oct. 5 and that game is looking like an easier win as every week passes.
Some might have been worried about a possible trap game, as it will be the first opponent for Georgia after the Notre Dame game. But those Admiral Ackbar wannabes won’t have anything to shout about if Tennessee continues to play like it has in the first two weeks of the season.
Winner: Fans of the Georgia tight ends
For a number of reasons, people constantly want to see Georgia gets its tight ends more involved in the offense. Whether it be the success NFL teams have with the position or the possible allure of landing some highly-rated tight end prospects, the common Georgia supporter wants to see the tight end get involved more in the passing attack.
Well on Saturday, those fans got some appeasement, as the Bulldogs featured their tight ends early and often in the passing offense.
Graduate transfer Eli Wolf caught 4 passes for 73 yards. And while he had an early fumble, the Bulldogs continued to target Wolf in the passing game.
“He’s a bright kid, he took a pretty good shot…” Smart said of Wolf. ” He caught the ball when he had some opportunities, he made some plays and had some good run after catch. I think he’s a talented player and a weapon for us.”
Fellow tight end John Fitzpatrick also brought in his first career catch, a 22-yard reception. For right now it might be window dressing, but it is something teams like Notre Dame and Tennessee will have to prepare for going forward.
As for what Smart, he’s probably more excited with how Charlie Woerner and Ryland Goede played, as the two sprung big plays with their blocking on Saturday. All in all, it was a good day to be a Georgia tight end on Saturday.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- WATCH: ‘Emotional’ Georgia WR George Pickens growing into go-to role
- Georgia football a prohibitive favorite over Arkansas State
- Georgia football Freshmen Report: Georgia 63, Murray State 17
- Georgia among three SEC teams in Top 5 of Associated Press Top 25 Poll
- Georgia report card: Bulldogs start slow in 63-17 win over Murray State
- What Georgia football fans are saying on social media after beating Murray State
- WATCH Jake Fromm: Georgia ‘chasing perfection,’ but needs to enjoy victories
- WATCH: Georgia’s Cade Mays holds ‘Great Wall’ together in 63-17 win
- 3 quick takeaways from Georgia’s 63-17 win over Murray State
- Georgia coach Kirby Smart: ‘Pleased with the progress’ in 63-17 win
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