The UGA defense got off to a shaky start, but Jeremy Pruitt’s squad was able to stiffen up in the second half and help bring home a 45-21 victory for the home team Georgia Bulldogs.
There were glimpses of some good things to come from this defensive unit, but still far too many breakdowns in the secondary. Unlike last season, when corners were just being flat out beaten, there is some coaching that needs to happen with this group about when and how to locate the ball once its in the air.
The back and forth first half saw the two teams deadlocked at 21, just as last season’s halftime score.
The second half was essentially the Leonard Floyd show, because if he wasn’t actually knocking the quarterback down or tackling a running back behind the line, he was causing enough disruption and drawing double-teams to allow someone else to do it. If the Georgia front seven keeps that intensity going this season, it won’t matter how bad the secondary is.
The Georgia defense that looked so susceptible in the first half never gave up another point, keeping the Tigers in check for the remainder of the game.
The first half offensively looked very Mike Bobo. Lots of passes into the flat and across the middle, a few deep shots, and the bread-and-butter toss sweep. Gurley only carried the ball five times in the first half, but that was quickly corrected….after his 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown that knotted the game at 21.
Georgia QB Hutson Mason did exactly what he needed and was expected to do, take care of the ball and make plays when he needed. His stats aren’t going to set the world on fire — 18-for-26 for 198 yards and a rushing touchdown — but he doesn’t have to. That’s why Gurley is standing behind him.
Offensively in the second half, we saw pretty much what we expected to see – Todd Gurley doing Todd Gurley things, and the rest of the offense there as his band of sidekicks. And on a hot, muggy night at Sanford Stadium, conditioning become a big factor, and the Clemson offensive/defensive lines were obviously worn down mid way through the 3rd quarter.
Check out these rushing number for the Dawgs:
Todd Gurley: 15 car/198 yds/3 TD (Plus 100 yd KO return for TD)
Nick Chubb: 4 car/70 yds/1 TD
Sony Michel: 6 car/33 yds
You throw in a few more yards by McKenzie, Marshall and Hicks, and the Dawgs ran up 328 rushing yards and five rushing TDs on the Tigers.
That is line of scrimmage domination.
On both sides of the ball, the second half was absolutely owned by Georgia, and special teams looked incredibly improved, with the exception of punt returns, which still need some work.
Undoubtedly Georgia looked better than many believed they would, and probably more than a lot of Bulldog fans hoped they would. There was confidence brewing in all phases of the game, and with a week off before traveling to play South Carolina, that will be important.