Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart’s first opener
2016: Georgia football beat North Carolina 33-24 in Atlanta
The 2016 season marked the beginning of a new era in Georgia football history. For the first time in 16 years, a coach other than Mark Richt led the Bulldogs on Saturday. Kirby Smart, who had never been a head coach at any level, was officially taking over the school where he played college football.
Many wondered how he would fare in his first game against Mitch Trubisky and a ranked North Carolina team in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
This game also featured the debut of highly touted quarterback recruit Jacob Eason, who had been committed to Georgia since 2014. Nick Chubb would also return after suffering a devastating knee injury in 2015.
Georgia jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a Chubb touchdown, and they would take a 14-10 lead going into the second half. Eason replaced Greyson Lambert at quarterback in the second quarter, and that is the guy Georgia needed to run its offense.
After allowing 21 unanswered points, including a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown to start the third quarter, the Dawgs found themselves down 24-14. Eason and Chubb would spark the offense, and the defense provided a safety. Up 26-24 late in the fourth quarter, Chubb would put the game away with a 55-yard rushing touchdown.
Georgia won 33-24 in the Dawgs’ final game in the Georgia Dome. Chubb finished with 222 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Eason completed 8-for-12 passes for 131 yards and a score.
Even though Georgia would finish the season with an 8-5 record, Smart proved right away that he could be a big game coach.