ATHENS — No. 9 Georgia defeated Nicholls State 26-24 in the home opener Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs (2-0) needed two first downs in the final 2:30 to secure the victory against the Colonels (0-1), who were 3-9 in FCS play last season.
Here’s how it broke down from a performance standpoint:
If you take into account that the opponent was a struggling FCS team, what Georgia did — and more specifically could not do — was unacceptable. The Bulldogs’ line could not provide any space for tailback Nick Chubb and the other backs to run. Chubb had 11 yards in lost-yardage plays, averaged only four yards a carry and failed to gain 100 yards for the first time ever as Georgia’s starting tailback. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs managed only two touchdowns and committed two turnovers.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker got a bit of surprise when the Colonels went with freshman Chase Fourcade at quarterback. The nephew of legendary Ole Miss quarterback John Fourcade proved a formidable force behind center for Nicholls State. He helped them earn 12 first downs and actually lead Georgia in time of possession 31:26 to 28:34. But the Bulldogs managed a defensive touchdown on Lorenzo Carter’s scoop-and-score on a forced fumble off an Aaron Davis hit. They also didn’t give up any big plays and defensive tackle Trent Thompson piled up 11 tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
There were actually some improvements in this area from Week 1, with Rodrigo Blankenship managing to record four touchbacks kicking off, punter Marshall Long averaging 47.7 yards and Isaiah McKenzie returning a punt 55 yards. But McKenzie also muffed a punt, mishandled a kickoff out of bounds and the Bulldogs were flagged for the second consecutive week for a personal foul by striking a returner on a fair catch.
Kirby Smart and his staff made some questionable decisions, and that goes beyond the handling of the quarterbacks. Passing the ball inside the 10-yard line leading by two scores midway through the fourth quarter was a bad idea, especially with a freshman quarterback such as Eason, who was subsequently victimized with a 91-yard interception return. The Bulldogs were flat, understandable considering the opponent and the place in the schedule. But it’s up to coaches to not allow letdowns.
Nicholls State’s past two games against FBS opponents were against Colorado and Louisiana-Monroe. It lost by a combined 95-0. Against Georgia the Colonels led by one in the third quarter and trailed by two at the end. Smart likes to say it doesn’t matter what the Bulldogs’ opponents do, just what Georgia does. It didn’t do much in this one.