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Behind the Hedges: Dawgs Slip Past Cats in Uncomfortable Win

Who Covered?

UGA Bulldogs at Kentucky Wildcats (-22.5, o/u 47.5)

UGA Bulldogs 16 - Kentucky Wildcats 6

ATS (Kentucky +22.5)

Kentucky

Over/Under (+/- 47.5)

Under (22 Total Points)

Kirby Smart Post-Game Presser

 

The Game

On a wild Saturday in college football, Georgia found itself in a much closer game than they anticipated.

While the Dawgs led for the entire game, they gained enough of a lead to feel comfortable.

Georgia played right into Kentucky’s hand in this game. UK was able to hold the ball and drive down the field, eating up clock. Georgia was not explosive offensively in the game.

 

Game Summary

In the first half, Georgia moved the ball at will, but couldn’t find the end zone. Three possessions resulted in 3 field goals as the Dawgs went into half with a 9-0 lead. CB Kelee Ringo helped keep Kentucky off the board with an interception in the end zone. 

To start the second half, UGA was moving the ball down the field before Stetson Bennett threw an interception while targeting WR Ladd McConkey, who had cut off his route. The Dawgs forced a 3 and out on the subsequent drive after a nice TFL by CB Kamari Lassiter. Then, RB Kendall Milton came into the game and set the tone for the drive with an 8-yard run up the middle.

The Dawgs were about to feature their three backs for the remainder of the drive. Milton bounced off a defender to hit a 13-yard run, and then broke a tackle again to get another 7 yards. RB Daijun Edwards then got the next two touches for about 15 yards. Kenny McIntosh came in for the next three touches to punch it in for his 7th rushing touchdown of the year. It seemed like the Dawgs were finally in cruise control.

Too Close for Comfort

The Dawgs stopped UK again, but offensively the play calling became too conservative. Bennett found Dominick Blaylock for a long gain on a risky throw to get 35 yards. McIntosh had another nice gain before the Dawg stalled out on the 1 yard line. Despite putting in their jumbo package with Jalen Carter, the Dawgs were stuffed on 3rd and 4th and goal. Then, the momentum switched in UK’s favor. 

QB Will Levis scrambled to get a first down only to be matched by RB Chris Rodriguez moving a pile of defenders for another first down. Then safety Chris Smith got lost in coverage and gave up a big play on a double move by WR Barion Brown. Levis hit his tight end for another first, and the Cats were getting chunk plays every time. Then, the Cats fooled the Georgia secondary again and Brown caught a slant for a touchdown. 

After stopping the Dawgs, Brown hit the Dawgs on another big play. Chris Smith again was lost in coverage. Then, CB Kamari Lassiter got a PI call against him to move the chains again. Georgia’s defense struggled to get lined up on multiple plays, and looked totally out of sorts. However, the refs gave two controversial calls in UK’s favor.

The first was an incomplete call instead of a fumble. If fumble had been called, Georgia had a scoop and score. Then, Levis had a clear intentional grounding call, which would have turned the ball over to the Dawgs. After calling the penalty, the refs changed their mind, which was utterly confusing. UK ended up missing the field goal attempt after the snap skipped off of the ground and the holder barely wrangled it. 

Georgia took over, failed to converted 3rd and 1, and gave the ball back. UK moved the ball again before turning it over on downs.

In control but never comfortable, the Dawgs managed a win in Lexington. Coach Smart managed his 7th straight win against UK and continued Georgia’s 13-game winning streak against them.

Photoby Katie Tucker ktucker@randb.com

 

Things I Liked

Kenny McIntosh had himself a game. He gashed the defense for 5 10+ yard runs throughout the game. The Dawgs ran the ball incredibly effectively except in short yardage situations. UK was pleased to keep two safeties high all game to keep Georgia from taking deep shots. However, the Georgia front was content to keep the passing game short and gash the running game to move the ball.

RB Kendall Milton looked like the player I have hoped he would become as well. Perhaps he is finally getting healthy, as he powered through several tackles on his runs. Despite the Dawgs missing starting RG Tate Ratledge, they got plenty of push. 

LB Smael Mondon led the team with 11 tackles. He flew all over the field. Any time he came off of the field, there was a drop off in the Georgia defense. Backups Rian Davis and Trezman Marshall just aren’t able to make the same impact despite their experience. 

Defensively, the Dawgs completely nullified one of the best running backs in the SEC. Chris Rodriguez was unable to make hardly any plays, and the Dawgs did an excellent job rallying to the ball to tackle him. He only managed 3 YPC in the game. ‘

A few freshman had nice games. DL Mykel Williams got pressure early on against Levis. He also beat his man on 4th and 1 to force a TFL to stop UK. LB Jalon Walker is seeing more snaps as the season goes on. He is able to play both inside and outside linebacker, so Georgia is using him on 3rd down packages as a pass rusher mostly. Safety Malaki Starks continues to shine, and had 8 tackles.

There appeared to be no major injuries in the game for the first time all season. 

Photo by Katie Tucker ktucker@randb.com

 

Things I Didn’t Like

Georgia had three situations where they had 3rd or 4th and 1. They failed to convert all of them. The last 9 times that Georgia has run the ball inside the 3 yard line, they have been stopped. Georgia has to diversify the play calling on these short yardage situations because they aren’t punching it in consistently enough.

In the same vein, Georgia’s red zone woes from earlier in the year are back. They scored a touchdown on only 1 of their 5 red zone trips in the game. Georgia is great at moving the ball and at scoring in the red zone, but they settle for field goals way too often. 

Chris Smith struggled against the deep ball today. Georgia’s defense did an excellent job with stopping Rodriguez. They failed to stop WR Barion Brown, who had 10 catches for 145 yards and 1 touchdown. 

Georgia’s offense rewound the clock about 3 years in this game. I know it was windy, but Stetson Bennett had the lowest passing attempts of the season in this game. While the run was effective, Georgia could have easily mixed up the play calling, especially inside the red zone. 

Georgia’s best offensive weapons were infrequently used in the passing game. Stetson did miss a wide open Darnell Washington early in the game, but Brock Bowers also did not get many looks in the game. 

Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Mykel Williams (13) celebrates during the second quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Photo by Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

 

Additional Notes

  • DB Javon Bullard played today after leaving last game with an injury
  • Despite breaking even on the game, UGA now has the worst turnover margin of a 10-0 ever with -2. 
  • Stetson Bennett completed a season low of 13 passes, with a season low of 113 yards
  • Georgia has allowed 19 touchdowns in their last 23 games.
  • DL Bear Alexander was coming along strong early in the year. However, it seems like the last 3 weeks his snaps have gone down. Not sure if he is dealing with nagging injuries or more senior players are earning more snaps.

Final Thoughts

Georgia didn’t look great, but at the same time this game went about as poorly as it could have gone and Georgia was in control for the entirety of the game. UK played the style of football they wanted to and still came up short in a game that was a couple of plays away from being a blowout. Georgia’s secondary looked suspect and their inability to run the ball in short yardage is concerning. Once again, Stetson Bennett turned the ball over, and it seems like his judgment is slipping as the season goes on. 

Despite their struggles, Georgia still is clearly one of the best teams in the nation. I think Kirby Smart knows exactly what he has on this team and makes choices to challenge them each and every week. Even in weeks that feel disappointing, Georgia is improving in key areas. For Georgia fans, I understand this wasn’t the performance they expected or hoped for. I thought they would score much more easily, but they ran the ball much better than last week. They also showed they can win in games where they have few possessions this week. 

Let’s see how the Dawgs come out against the Yellow Jackets before getting too worked up on this week’s performance. This year the Dawgs have had their best performances in the biggest games. Hopefully next week we see back up Carson Beck get some reps in the 3rd quarter as the Dawgs have already wrapped up the game.

 

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Georgia Bulldogs

Saturday, 11/26 at 12:00 pm on ESPN

Matchup

Open

Spread

Total

Moneyline

Georgia Tech 

5-6

+30.5

+35

o49

Georgia

11-0

u52.5

-35

u49

 

GET IN THE ACTION WITH GODZILLA WINS!

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