UGA 42 – Florida 20
Turnovers Can’t Stop the Dawgs
Georgia pummeled the Florida Gators 42-20 on Saturday afternoon, winning their 5th of the last 6 games against their division rivals. The Dawgs did the opposite of what I predicted.
I thought the Dawgs would come out slow before developing into an impressive performance. Instead, Georgia’s defense completely shut down Florida’s offense in the first half, holding the best running attack to 13 yards rushing in the first half.
On Florida’s first offensive drive, DB Javon Bullard hit QB Anthony Richardson just before he got out of bounds. The hit appeared to lead to an awkward movement from Richardson, which led to some sort of a tweak in his leg. Without Richardson’s mobility as a threat, the Dawg defense smothered the Gators for the entire half.
Tumultuous Tight Ends
On offense, Georgia found plenty of success in the first half, particularly through their star tight end Brock Bowers. Bowers had 4 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown that came from a pass that was tipped several times. He rotated his body and was able to haul in the catch and run for his first score in several weeks. The Dawgs went into half up 28-3 behind nearly 300 yards passing from Stetson Bennett and a solid running game.
In the 3rd quarter, the wheels fell off. Florida started the second half the exact way I thought they would start the first. Richardson began to use his legs, and Georgia defenders bounced off of him. Florida hit enough passes to keep the Dawgs honest, and Florida marched down the field for a score after a late hit by freshman DL Bear Alexander extended Florida’s drive.
On the first play of Georiga’s next drive, RB Kenny McIntosh fumbled after being hit from behind. Florida went on to score again. Then, after getting a couple of first downs, Stetson Bennett missed badly on a pass to RB Daijun Edwards on a wheel route. It was an easy interception for Florida DB Amari Burney. Florida scored again, notching 17 unanswered and pulling the game to within 8 points.
Georgia responded by running the ball right back at them. Kenny McIntosh responded with several tenacious runs. Receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint caught a much needed pass that was low and away from him before Daijun Edwards broke through the middle of the line for a 22-yard touchdown run.
Georgia went on to stop Florida on downs after DL Jalen Carter, who returned in a limited role after his injury, pressured Richardson. In response, Georgia decided to go for it on 4th down themselves. Bennett changed the snap count to draw the Gators offsides, before hitting Bowers on a deep, back-shoulder throw. Then, McIntosh ran in the score. When Georgia needed to respond to a 17-0 run from Florida, they were able to go on a 14-0 run of their own.
The Gators went on to turn it over on downs again before Georgia just about ran the game out to seal the win. Here’s what I saw
Things I Liked
Brock Bowers is back, baby. After not finding the end zone for several weeks, Bowers exploded today for 5 catches, 154 yards, and a touchdown. His 73-yard score was a lucky, but remarkable catch. His performance broke the Georgia record for most receiving yards against Florida in a single game. Fellow TE Darnell Washington had a couple drops, but still managed to 47 yards. The tight ends really made Georgia’s offense run.
Speaking of running, Daijun Edwards had the best game of his career today. His 12 carry, 106 yards and 2 touchdowns performance is his first 100-yard game of his career. Kenny McIntosh also ran effectively aside form his fumble. He added 90 yards and 2 touchdowns. Branson Robinson had some hard runs at the end of the game as well. Despite reports that he was available, RB Kendall Milton did not play. The team who has the most rushing yards almost always wins this matchup. Despite Georgia being at a disadvantage on paper, on the field Georgia’s 240 rushing yards got it done.
Two defensive backs had great games: star Javon Bullard and safety Chris Smith. Bullard led the team with 8 tackles, a career high, including 1.5 TFLs. Chris Smith had a sack in addition to 6 tackles.
Georgia was able to hold Florida to 100 yards rushing. It helps when you get out to such an early lead that Florida had to throw to stay in the game, but still, Georgia shut down the most potent running attack in football today. After leading the SEC with 6.4 YPC, Florida only managed 2.9 YPC today.
DL Jalen Carter was surprisingly able to return today. He still had a limited role, mainly playing on 3rd downs. However, he was disruptive in his time. I’m sure he’s still working back into shape, but Georgia needs him to make some plays down the stretch.
Things I Did Not Like
Turnovers. Georgia’s offense basically goes one of two ways. The first way is that it scores lots of points. The second is that it turns the ball over a lot. It’s crazy to beat a team by 22 despite losing the turnover battle by -3.
We saw good Stetson and bad Stetson today. Bennett consistently threw behind his receivers and threw 2 interceptions. One wasn’t a bad throw and was simply a great play by the Florida defender. The other was an atrocious throw, and Stetson had a third potential INT dropped by safety Rashad Torrence II. He was visibly upset with his teammates and the sideline during the game. While his stats could have been much better if a few passes had not been dropped, Stetson showed too much of his poor decision making today. He has to be sharper moving forward.
Open Field Tackles
Georgia’s tackling was sub-par today. In particular, it was concerning to see how UGA players would melt off of Anthony Richardson. Georgia had 3 sacks, but should have had several more if players could finish tackles. DB Kelee Ringo had a couple missed tackles today, but he was far from alone. Georgia had one of its worst tackling performances under Kirby Smart, with 16 missed in the game.
Georgia needed to get out of this game without major injuries and instead picked up several significant ones. OLB Nolan Smith appeared to injure his chest or shoulder while making a TFL in the first half. He did not return and the extent of his injury is unknown. Chaz Chambliss replaced him, who just returned from injury himself but he is a big drop off from the senior linebacker. RT Amarius Mims injured his MCL after a lineman rolled up on him. He was playing because starting RT Warren McClendon is dealing with a shoulder injury, and LF Xavier Truss got a toe injury knocking him out of the 2nd half.
LB Rian Davis also picked up an injury in the 4th quarter, and Darius Smith also left the game in the second half. So, a week before Georgia will undoubted need all of its depth, they lost their second-best defender in Smith, a starting offensive lineman, a reserve offensive lineman, a reserve linebacker, and has another lineman dinged. Fingers crossed Smith and the others can be ready next week.
Troubles with McConkey
WR Ladd McConkey struggled again today. He ran the wrong route on a deep ball, choosing a post instead of a seam. He dropped an easy deep ball to him as well. He rallied by making a back shoulder catch that might have been offensive PI before taking a slant in for a touchdown. He continues to be up-and-down, much like Georgia’s offense.
Freshman safety Malaki Starks committed several mistakes that Tennessee will take advantage of next week. Coach Smart talks about eye-discipline almost after every game. Starks had poor eye-discipline resulting in a 78-yard touchdown pass to Xzavier Henderson. Starks nearly had an INT in the end zone, but overall I am concerned about him next week. He can be a liability in coverage, and Tennessee is going to run multiple routes to confuse him next week. Discipline has to improve.
Keep it Clean
For Georgia’s final score of the day, Kenny McIntosh punched it in from about 5 yards out. Former Georgia player Brenton Cox, who transferred to Florida and has repeatedly turned to social media to trash talk UGA over the years, collided with McIntosh at the 1-yard line before the Georgia offensive line pushed both players into the end zone. It ended with several Dawgs surrounding the Florida linebacker as they celebrated. *Chef’s kiss* UPDATE: Gators Online is reporting that Brenton Cox has been dismissed from the team.
LB Smael Mondon returned from injury and had a career high in tackles with 7. His presence makes a huge difference in Georgia’s defense.
Georgia’s 555 yards of offense are the most ever against the Gators.
Daijun Edwards was Georgia’s first 100-yard rusher this year.
Georgia out gained Florida 346-88 in the first half.
In 3 games against Florida, Stetson Bennet has 5 INTs. He never brings his best game to Jacksonville.
Georgia has started 8-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
Georgia continues to be a program that has high highs and low lows. Essentially, if Georgia doesn’t turn the ball over, they dominate. When they don’t take care of the ball, they don’t just lose it once, but repeatedly. Georgia was utterly dominant for 3 quarters of the game, but one quarter they looked miserable. On one hand, Georgia beat a rival by 3 scores and accrued 500+ yards once again. It’s great to be a Bulldog!
Bennett’s inconsistent play and the lengthening injury list means the Dawgs are vulnerable going into their biggest home game in years. One thing about this year’s team is that it is resilient. If they can win against Tennessee, they’ll have definitively earned the #1 ranking this year. Saturday was a great showing, but the outcome was expected. Next Saturday is going to be electric, and your boy has tickets. Go Dawgs!