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UGA Escapes Jordan-Hare with Narrow Victory over Auburn

UGA Escapes Jordan-Hare with Narrow Victory over Auburn

UGA ESCAPES JORDAN-HARE WITH NARROW VICTORY OVER AUBURN – Taylor picked the wrong tight end. The Georgia Bulldogs rode Brock Bowers to 8 catches for 157 yards, including a 40-yard game-winning score with under 3 minutes to go.

Most of Bowers’ damage was done in the 4th quarter, as Georgia looked to finally take the lead against a feisty Auburn Tiger team. 

Game Summary

Jordan-Hare provided a difficult environment for Georgia and Carson Beck’s first road game of the year. For much of the game, it looked as if the Auburn Tigers were going to be buying all the toilet paper in town to roll Toomer’s Corner.

A promising start quickly went sideways for Georgia.

They forced a quick 3-and-out on the first drive of the game. When they got the ball, Georgia looked to Bowers and the finally healthy Ladd McConkey to make plays. After getting a first down, the Dawgs were stuffed on 3rd and 2 and forced to punt. 

Then Payton Thorne got loose for a 61-yard run on the edge. Defending the run game was a challenge for the Dawgs all evening, and Auburn found success early and often with their read-option.

Hugh Freeze was not impressed with their play calling last week, so this week, he made sure to install RPOs and options that left UGA defenders constantly hesitating.

The Dawgs held Auburn to a field goal, but then Beck threw an interception on a 50/50 ball to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. Auburn turned to Thorne and Jarquez Hunter for the next 7 plays which led to Hunter punching one in from 5 yards out. With one quarter down, Auburn was in complete control, and the Dawgs once again sputtered to start the game.

A Much Needed Score

Georgia then responded with an 11-play, 56 yard drive of their own for a much needed score.

Dillon Bell got some action in the backfield on the drive, with carries for 15 and 5 yards. The biggest play of the drive came on a 3rd and 7 in the red zone.

RB Daijun Edwards didn’t pick up a blitz coming down A-gap, but Carson Beck delivered a throw just before getting walloped to RaRa Thomas, who reached out with one hand, tipping the ball to himself for a catch and first down. Edwards then pushed for a short score on 2 runs. 

Georgia seemed to have regained control after forcing a 3 and out and then coming down with another drive. Georgia leaned on Edwards and Bell in the run game while peppering in throws to Dominic Lovett and MRJ for some longer gains. However, in the red zone the Dawgs couldn’t quite connect and settled for a field goal to tie the game. 

Auburn then drove on a 10-play drive of their own just before half, when the Georgia defense came up big with two tackles for no gain to force a turnover on downs in the red zone. I think Freeze made the correct call in going for it, but Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Smael Mondon were up to the challenge with two key tackles. 

The Second Half

It seemed like all the momentum was finally going Georgia’s way.

With the ball to start the second half, Georgia seemed poised to impose their will on the Tigers when TE Oscar Delp coughed up the ball for Auburn to recover.

They scored 3 plays later as backup QB Rabby Ashford ran in a 9-yard score. After another fruitless drive, the Dawgs were once again struggling to find any momentum. Auburn began to methodically drive down the field for 10 plays. However, Mondon put a stop to the drive when he sacked Thorne for a 7-yard loss on 2nd down.

Thorne threw incomplete on a huge PBU from Daylen Everette and were forced to punt. Georgia took over on their own 2 yard line, down a touchdown with 5 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

Daijun Edwards broke loose for 16 yards to give the offense some breathing room. Then Beck hit RaRa Thomas for a 14-yard gain on 3rd and 5.

The Dawgs quickly got into 3rd and long again, when Beck found McConkey for 12. That play seemed to break the backs of the Tigers, who then gave up a 9-yard run, a 29-yard pass, and a 13-yard run on consecutive plays. Georgia had tied it 17-17. 

Tightening Up

The Dawg defense toughened up for a 3 and out again. Bowers had two massive catches for 37-yards on a wheel route and another grab for 28. Yet, the Dawgs got a penalty and found themselves once again in 3rd and long. A pass to Lovett wasn’t enough to move the sticks and Peyton Woodring fired in a 38-yard field goal to take the lead. 

For once, Auburn decided to air it out, and Thorne spread the ball around for gains to Jay Fair, Brian Battie, and Rivaldo Fairweather. But another pass to Fairweather was 2-yards short of the line. Alex McPherson just squeezed in a 42-yarder along the upright to tie the game, 

With just over 6 minutes to go, the Dawgs took over with a chance to take the lead. MRJ caught a ball for 18 and a first down. Quickly, Georgia sputtered after Edwards was eaten up for a loss of 2. Auburn decided to rush 4 on 3rd and 12 and Beck threw behind Bowers.

No matter. He leaned back behind the defender and hauled in the ball. Bowers later snagged a ball over the middle, broke a tackle, and ran 40 yards to take the lead. Safety Malaki Starks intercepted Payton Thorne to stop the comeback and then Beck took victory formation to finish off the game.

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I’ll give you a few thoughts on the game, before giving you my thoughts on the first third of the season so far. 

UGA dominated 3rd downs in this game, and it’s a big reason why they won. They held Auburn to 2-12 3rd down conversions for the game, while going 8-13 themselves. Every time Auburn didn’t blitz on 3rd down, I said to my buddy, “Bad decision,” and Beck would find a receiver to convert even on 3rd and long. 

Through 5 games, UGA has scored 17 and given up 17 points in the first quarter. Slow starts are still a major problem. 

Problems with the Running Game

UGA was unprepared and out coached in the running game. UGA was unable to stop the run for a variety of reasons. D linemen were not doing their job. Linebackers were not fitting their gaps. They didn’t set the edge.

Several times, the outside backer would crash into the edge, which ought to free up the inside linebacker for a free shot on any run outside. But the inside backer was still getting caught in the wash, or was so hesitant that the QB or RB had time to break one outside.

In other words, everything that could go wrong did go wrong for stopping the run. They were able to get some stops, but played woefully inconsistent. 

UGA barely rushed for over 100 yards and they still need to find a running game. Daijun Edwards is a solid back and Dillon Bell is our best second option. I think Bell needs more touches. Kendal Milton is only healthy enough to pass block right now. At the end of the day, UGA is lacking consistency blocking on offense.

They continue to rotate guards in and out, and the offensive line is… here’s that phrase again…woefully inconsistent. Even Sedrick Van Pran and Tate Ratledge are whiffing assignments. Your best offensive linemen are not performing the way they should when it comes to the run game. However, their pass blocking is really good so far. Beck did not get sacked in this game, and had time to throw downfield. 

Dawg Secondary

DB Daylen Everette had one of the key plays of the game. While he has had some tough moments, he punched what should have been a catch out of the hands of a receiver to stop a 3rd down conversion and get the ball back. Massive, massive play in the game. 

Speaking of DBs. Tykee Smith didn’t have his best performance today. While he did record a sack, he’ll want to improve from here. Also, have you noticed no one throws at Kamari Lassiter? The guy barely makes any plays because QB’s never throw his way. I think he’s quietly having a really strong season.

Safety Javon Bullard made his return and played every defensive snap. Bullard didn’t quite seem like he is back to himself yet. While he flashed at times, he looked a touch slow at others. I think he’s still getting back into shape and finding comfort in that ankle based on what I saw Saturday. 

UGA went to a crazy Auburn environment and didn’t get a single pre-snap penalty. That’s a prepared team. 


All right, I’ve yet to do this so far this year, but here it is. The refs in this game really blew some key calls. On Auburn’s first touchdown, their offensive lineman just tackles one of our players from behind on what should have been a tackle for loss. Then Smael Mondon gets held on a block downfield. Neither get called, and Auburn takes it for 6.

Payton Thorne had what appeared to be an illegal forward pass that also was not called, which kept a drive alive.

UGA was called for a very light pass interference penalty, again, keeping a drive alive for Auburn, and should have gotten the same treatment in the red zone in the first half. Instead, refs swallowed their whistle when Bowers was hit before the ball made its way to him.

I’m sure UGA got away with their fair share of holds and nonsense too if I were to really go back and look for it, but I can think of 4 big calls that did not go Georgia’s way that impacted drives/points. 

My Thoughts on the First Third of the Season

After 5 weeks of the season, I still don’t know much about this Georgia team. Here’s what I *think* I know. We’ll start with the positive

Carson Beck

Carson Beck is becoming a really good quarterback. He has shown an immense amount of composure and grit in the two games UGA has faced adversity.

He was great in the second half against Carolina and he played well all throughout the game against Auburn. Yes, he missed a wide open Delp. He also missed a couple more deep routes. On the play he threw the pick, RaRa Thomas was open down the seam and he doesn’t see him. Dom Lovett also broke loose and was missed, but he found Bowers on the play instead. Still, Beck had every reason to panic and pack it in against Auburn and he performed well.

He’s seeing the field better and making way more impressive plays than bad ones. It’s almost as if we expected him to be Stetson Bennett right out of the gate and, I don’t know, maybe the fan base needed to give him some time to grow. He needs more time to grow.

But he’s growing every game, and it’s getting good. Once Beck begins to find that deep throw, look out. This offense will be one of the best in America. 

Brock Bowers

Speaking of the best in America, Brock Bowers is the best player in college football. Georgia didn’t use him much the first few games, but the last two Bowers has been leaned on heavily. His back-to-back one-handed catches (one of which was called back) were insane. I didn’t think a UGA receiver would break 1000 yards on the year. Now I think Brock just might. 

This team embodies composure and resilience. In past years, UGA would have lost to Carolina and lost to Auburn.

This team just doesn’t panic when things get tough. They respond well. If you knew that a team was going to turn the ball over twice and give up 200 yards rushing on the road, you would automatically assume that team would lose the game. These Dawgs don’t quit. They overcome.

And boy, they will need to overcome a lot this year. 

Ladd McConkey and Bowers are a deadly duo. With McConkey seeing his first action of the year, UGA lined him next to Bowers on key 3rd downs. It nearly always worked for one of them to get open and make a play. McConkey had 4 catches and 3 were for first downs. Bowers diced up the defense all second half. McConkey’s not fully healthy, but his presence changes Georgia’s offense.

Now for the Bad

When the year started, it seemed like UGA’s biggest issue was its offense. This game was a sobering moment because had Auburn had any semblance of a balanced offense the Dawgs would have lost.

So far, UGA is on pace to average over 1 yard/carry higher than last year when it comes to defending the run. They’re nearly giving up 4 yards/carry.

Historically, Kirby Smart’s defense should have embarrassed this Auburn team. Instead, it went the other way. The defensive line and linebacking core have taken a step backwards, which is particularly baffling considering the linebackers are returning starters. 

The Turnovers

The biggest problem UGA has may be turnovers. They haven’t gone a game without coughing up the ball. While the offense can score in bunches, it also puts the ball on the turf in bunches. Two special teams turnovers last week.

A fumble that should have broken them this week. If Georgia takes care of the ball, they’ll score in the mid-thirties or better. Through two SEC games, they’ve been held in the 20’s. Yikes.

With these shortened games, you cannot give away possessions. Georgia does. And if it cannot fix this issue, they will lose a game in the regular season. 

The Red Zone Problem

Georgia’s defense also has a red zone problem. It can’t stop hardly anything in the red zone. Again, one of the hallmark qualities of Kirby-coached team was that they really became hard to move the ball against in the red area. Not this year.

They got the one stop before half in this game, but man, they have to improve this. I think this is a byproduct of a defensive line that doesn’t make plays. 

The Special Teams

UGA special teams are inconsistent at best. Peyton Woodring had two clutch kicks in this game for the Dawgs. He missed two against Carolina. His first kick was right into the laces of the football, but he hammered it through.

Mekhi Mews fumbled a punt return, which gives him two on the year so far. While he can bust a big gain, he’s become a liability too because he’s been careless with the ball. 

Final Thoughts

So, to summarize, UGA is a tough, resilient team with a QB who is improving each week. They have a superstar on offense who can break the game. Their defensive line has taken a step back and now teams can run the ball against them.

Their special teams are inconsistent. They turn the ball over too much. That is a recipe for a lot of close games. Georgia has failed to cover the spread this year.

And until they prove they can, I’m not picking them to do so. I don’t think UGA will have an easy SEC win this season, except for Vandy. Georgia was averaging over 20+ victories in the league last year. Those days are gone, and Dawgs need to get used to it.

Does anyone, given what they have seen from UGA this year, think that Kentucky, who has a great defense and running game is an easy out? How about Missouri, who has a found a QB and boasts oone of the best receivers in the conference and a stout defense? Will Tennessee have nothing to lose when we go to Knoxville?

And then there’s Ole Miss, who just beat the team I thought was the best in the SEC this year.

Are these easy games? Not a chance. In reality, Georgia could easily lose any of those games. A couple turnovers and some defensive inconsistency, which is par for the course so far this season, and UGA will be in a fight against any of those teams. 

The Good News

Here’s the good news. I think UGA is only gaining confidence. They’ve come from behind to win. They’ve won a gritty game on the road where they were down 10.

The offense gets it done when pressure is applied, and McConkey will bring a new dimension to them if he can stay healthy. They’re racing against the clock right now, because I think they’ll improve each week and, God willing, get healthier each week.

They may evolve into a championship contender, but currently are not one. If they can beat UK, they get Vandy and a bye to regroup, heal up, and prepare for the final stretch of Mizzou, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.

Unless Georgia has an overnight transformation, all of those games will be tight. At the same time, incremental progress will be enough to win out, and by the end of the year the Dawgs may just find themselves as the most dangerous team in America. We’re about to find out just how resilient this team truly is.


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