Georgia coach Kirby Smart put a positive spin on his team’s win at Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
“I definitely wouldn’t say we were struggling, not at all,” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ 14-3 win over the Wildcats in Lexington.
Smart was asked: Was it an ugly win?
“It depends on what your appetite and your view is,” Smart said. “I would argue that sometimes it’s tough to get prepared, adjusting, playing at noon which people can use it as an excuse all they want but the other team has to do the same thing as you do.”
Smart is now 3-3 in SEC games with noon kicks.
“Four starters out on defense and having to recover from that? I was very proud and saw some resilient guys out there,” Smart said. “That’s pretty to me when guys go out and finish the right way, but we certainly didn’t play our best game.”
Quarterback Stetson Bennett was 9-of-13 passing for 131 yards with two interceptions and rushed three times for 9 yards and a TD.
“I think everybody played great,” Bennett told the SEC Network after running his record to 3-1 in four career starts.
“I obviously made two poor throws, but other than that, I thought it was a really strong day.”
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Georgia was 5-of-9 converting third downs and out-gained Kentucky 346-229, relying heavily on a powerful but plodding ground game.
Georgia scored touchdowns on its opening drive of the game and of the second half. The Bulldogs hadn’t scored a touchdown an opening drive this season in the first or second halves of their first four games.
Zamir White had a career-high 136 yards on 26 carries, his longest run 22 yards.
The Bulldogs’ tailbacks now have a string of 328 carries without a rush longer than 26 yards dating back into last season.
Smart acknowledged the lack of explosive plays in the run game.
“We all know that in order to be the kind of team we want to be, the explosive team, we have to be able to run the ball for longer yardage runs,” Smart said.
White’s longest run on 168 career carries is 29 yards, but he’s a favorite of run game coordinator Coach Dell McGee, and a team leader in practice.
Smart said this Georgia offense can do so much more when given the chance, and he vehemently denies it’s limited by Bennett’s lack of arm strength.
“I do not (believe it’s limited), and I hope one day we get to show it,” Smart said. “I hope we get an opportunity to, because we get to go against a pretty good defense every day. I see them. I see them pass pro. I see them throw and catch the ball. I see them run. I see us play-action.
“I see good things out of our offense, and unfortunately we haven’t been able to see them (in games) yet, and a lot of that today was due to a ground-and-pound ball control by them, and a few unfortunate turnovers.”
Smart said pulling Bennett out of the game was never discussed, and that the important thing is the redshirt junior is improving.
“There was no discussion about it … a batted ball on a pass that he’s got to get around a guy is not a real struggle,” Smart said. “But it’s one of those things where he’s got to wrap the ball around it, he’s got to throw it away.
“But he also did a lot of good things in the run game. He pulled a ball and scored with it. He put us in the right run plays. He handled motion. He handled clock. He did some good things. He didn’t get a chance to throw the ball an awful lot today because we were able to run the ball.”
Bennett has five interceptions between the past two games.
Georgia plays the second half of the regular season with games against Florida, Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
The Bulldogs were without running back Kenny McIntosh and receiver George Pickens at Kentucky, but Smart indicated he expected both back for the designated home game in Jacksonville next Saturday.