NEW ORLEANS — Kirby Smart vowed Georgia football would play to its standard in the Sugar Bowl, and he proved true to his word.
“Out-hit” and “out-hustle” were the buzzwords for the Bulldogs, now 8-4 under Smart against Top 10 teams.
Georgia scored a convincing 26-14 win over Baylor despite missing several starters, which led to three freshmen making their first career starts.
Smart said in Athens he would “confront” and “demand” the Bulldogs bring a focused approach to Sugar Bowl practices and the Jan. 1 Classic in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Bulldogs responded by showing a balanced offensive attack, outgaining Baylor 380 yards to 295.
James Coley’s play calling kept the Big 12’s top scoring defense off-balance all night. UGA converted two third-and-1 situations via the pass, an example of the aggressive approach.
Jake Fromm was 20-of-30 passing for 250 yards and two touchdowns, and freshman Zamir White had 92 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in his first career start.
“I thought that was the biggest difference in our offense tonight, having a semblance of the running game, committed to the run, and being able to get those positive yards,” Smart said.
“I thought Jake [Fromm] did a tremendous job making good decisions on the RPOs on the perimeter. Obviously we won some 50/50 balls.”
Smart was also pleased with his defense, which pitched a shutout in the first half and forced three Baylor turnovers.
“The defense played really inspiring football, they played really hard,” Smart said. “They got turnovers. They gave the offense some short fields, which we thought would be critical, whether it was a fourth‑down stop or a turnover.”
Georgia had four freshmen make their first career starts: White, receiver George Pickens, offensive guard Warren Ericson and safety Lewis Cine.
Smart said it’s important they stay humble.
“The future’s only bright if those guys continue to work,” Smart said. “Because there’s a disease that creeps in at Georgia, where kids believe they are better than they are, and they read their own press clippings.”
“Those kids you just mentioned are tremendous players, but they’ll only be as good as they can be if they stay as hungry as they are. When you’re not hungry, you become average.”
Smart showed his hunger with what seemed a hyper-aggressive call for a fake field goal midway through the third quarter with Georgia ahead 19-7.
The Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-2 at the Bears’ 19 when holder Jake Camarda took the snap and sprung up, following the lead block of a pulling Eli Wolf and Charlie Woerner for a 6-yard gain.
One play later, White scored Georgia’s final TD of the night.
“Well, I wanted to call it the first time, and I chickened out, and then I wanted to call it the second time, and then I chickened out,” Smart said. “So the third time was the charm because we didn’t want to do it on a long down-and-distance.
“We had worked it hard. Coach [Scott] Fountain and his staff had put it together. We thought it was there. And we’ve kicked so many field goals this year that you have got to score touchdowns. And I thought that would give us the momentum if we got it, and I felt like they were going to score points.”