When Stetson Bennett threw that pick, Georgia football fans clutched their pearls, and thought here we go again — it’s going to be a long day.
After a sluggish offensive start, the Dawgs needed some momentum swing, and they got it.
Georgia’s defense stepped up and provided that momentum boost as they forced three turnovers in the final minutes of the second quarter to give Georgia a 24-0 lead at the half.
First, it was Nolan Smith who, in a minute of game clock, recovered a fumble then followed it up with his first interception of the year.
Smith decided it was only right to take the ball out of Anthony Richardson’s hands, literally.
Then the Dawgs gave it to one of their runningbacks, and James Cook scored an 11-yard touchdown. The Dawgs have 82 rushing yards at the half on 17 carries, averaging 4.8 yards a touch.
Georgia scored in six seconds and sent the confident no-name defense back on the field. Smith decided he wasn’t finished taking Richardson’s lunch money because, on the second play, he picked it off.
Bennett took advantage of the turnover as he connected with Jackson for 36 yards to score.
Georgia’s defense had to bail out Bennett, but when he got the opportunity to redeem himself, he did. Sometimes that is what elite defenses have to do, and sometimes that is all a quarterback needs to give them a spark.
Bennett is 8-of-14 for 121 yards, one touchdown, and one pick at halftime, and that isn’t terrible, but he scored when they needed it most.
The Gators took over again and got a bit of a drive going, and like it’s plagued them all season, coughed up the ball. Flordia now has 14 interceptions on the season, and as we predicted, those savage pads no longer have dust on them.
After the Dawgs scored 14 unanswered points, Nakobe Dean decided it was his turn to take some lunch money as he took it 50 yards to the house, recording his first pick-six of the season to give the Dawgs 21 points in a matter of 2:09.
These three turnovers show just how fast the momentum can swing, and thankfully this time, it went in the Dawgs’ favor.
The bigger part of it is the Dawgs scored 21 points off three turnovers, which hasn’t always been a strength. In this game, the winning team must execute off forced turnovers, and so far, the Dawgs have.
This defense had to provide the spark, and that’s okay. It just shows how elite this group is.
Florida has 147 yards of total offense, with 68 on the ground and 79 through the air. The Dawgs are doing their job on the defense. Now the offense just needs to wake up and appreciate what their bully defense is doing for them.