Kirby Smart pulled out all the defensive stops to guide Georgia to its 20-19 victory over Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (2-0) erased four deficits, trailing 3-0, 10-3, 16(13)-10 and 19-17 before rallying for the victory. With 4 minutes, 34 seconds left in the third quarter, Georgia took its first lead at 17-16. With 10:21 left in the contest, Notre Dame moved back in front after an 18-yard field goal for a 19-17 lead. With 3:39 remaining, Rodrigo Blankenship hit a 30-yarder for a 20-19 final.
Sophomore defensive back J.R. Reed had a career-high 9 tackles to lead the team, followed by big games by junior linebacker Roquan Smith with 7 tackles, including a sack, while senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter registered 7 tackles, a sack, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. Davin Bellamy forced a fumble on a sack, and it was recovered by Carter to secure the victory. Notre Dame was 0 for 10 on third-down conversions with 6:22 left in the third quarter and finished 3 for 17.
Here is some of what Smart said after the game, speaking to NBC’s Kathryn Tappen:
On the defense
“Chopping wood, man. They just kept chopping. I didn’t say nothing to them, coach [Mel] Tucker handled that. He had them guys playing hard. They play hard. They love him. They played relentless.”
On UGA’s penalties (at one point early in the game, UGA had been penalized 3 times for 93 yards)
“We’ve got to clean some things up. We’ve got a good football team, but you talk about sloppy. Penalties. Penalties. Turnovers. Can’t do that.”
On Jake Fromm’s first start
“Love him. He’s a great kid. A winner. Keeps fighting. He doesn’t let things bother him.”
On the massive UGA fan turnout
“I’m so happy for these fans. We brought 40,000-something fans down here. These guys are awesome.”