First things first, congratulations to the Georgia Bulldogs on the dominating win against Auburn. On one hand, we expected this to be a good game and somewhat close but when you have the talent and championship expectations that the Bulldogs have every season, you expect this type of performance. Not only in this game but every week.
There is so much good to take away from this game but if you have the mindset of head Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart, you know there is always room for improvement.
Let’s get through the obvious first and look at what can be improved on before hosting Tennessee next Saturday.
The offensive line won in the trenches
This is the most obvious takeaway from this game but when you can rush for 202 yards in this game with over 100 yards in the first half, you have done your job well. Coming into this game, we knew if the Bulldogs wanted to have a chance to win this game, they had to be able to run the football and protect the quarterback. In this case, it was Stetson Bennett (Spoiler: He will be the next takeaway). With the running game working, running back Zamir White led all Bulldog rushers with 88 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. James Cook followed behind him with 41 yards on five carries.
All in all, the Bulldogs offensive line made the necessary adjustments to show what they are capable of each week. Also, they allowed one sack but kept the Tigers defense in check which helped Bennett play well. When you have an offensive line playing this way, it makes things much easier.
Stetson Bennett played … better than expected
To be honest, I was not sure how Bennett would play in this game. If anything, I thought he would play well but eventually thought Smart would rotate quarterbacks between him, D’Wan Mathis, and J.T. Daniels who is now cleared to play. Bennett showed how he can manage the offense and make the right plays by taking what the defense gives him and not forcing anything. He finished 17 for 28, 240 yards, and one touchdown that receiver George Pickens caught. His play in this game shows that he will be the guy for the next game but still has more to prove to earn the permanent starting position.
Smart alluded to Bennett’s play but admitted he and the team must get better.
“I was proud of Stetson and the way he handled things,” said Smart. “Very composed but he’ll only get better from here and give us some continuity. Let’s make no mistake about it, Stetson has to get better and we have to get better. We have to get better as [an] organization to move on because we have a gauntlet of a schedule.”
Defense looked amazing
Not much to be said here. The Bulldogs defense allowed only six points. Two field goals, no touchdowns, and a frustrated Bo Nix who couldn’t get anything past the Bulldogs defense was the theme for the Tigers in this game. The stout Bulldogs defense held the Tigers to 39 yards on the ground and allowed 177 passing yards.
“I think we played physical tonight,” said Smart on his defense. “When you play Auburn, that is where it starts.”
Creating havoc is what this defense prides itself on and they did so in this game getting to Bo Nix three times. Bulldogs Linebacker Adam Anderson led the defense in sacks with two while Azeez Ojulari came in second with one. Defensive back Mark Webb came up big as well, picking off Nix at the end of the third quarter as time expired to seal the game heading into the fourth quarter.
This is the strength of this Georgia team and will keep the Bulldogs in contention for the SEC East title and a possible SEC title and College Football Appearance.
Improvements: Short yardage defense and special teams
This is nothing too crazy to worry about but it is something to build upon. There were a couple of times in the game where the Bulldogs defense had an opportunity to get off the field early in third down and short situations. To the Tigers credit, they were able to get enough to move the chains especially when they brought in freshman tight end J.J. Pegues. Although he is a 300 pound back brought in for short-yardage situations, the Bulldogs could have managed to stop him in the backfield. This is something that will improve as the defense gets more reps moving forward. All in all, these are the situations that the Bulldogs will likely be in as they face more ranked opponents later in the season.
Jake Podlesny played well in this game but missed a field goal early in the fourth quarter from 43 yards. While it is nothing too serious to harp on, it is important moving forward the Podlesny makes every opportunity count.
Conclusion and Honorable Mention
Tigers Freshman runningback Cortavious “Tank” Bigsby who is a Georgia product from Callaway High School in Troup County was impressive in his first SEC road start. Although he rushed for 31 yards on eight carries and caught seven passes for 68 yards, this young man shows how he will be a problem in the SEC for years to come. There is no doubt the Bulldogs defense will have to gameplan for him in future meetings.
This was a game the Bulldogs controlled from start to finish and was an impressive win. As they move forward in SEC play, if they can keep consistent play and performances like this, they will be in Atlanta battling for the SEC title.