Georgia football played a game, meaning it is time to give report cards! Kirby said he did not care what the media had to say about the team’s performance this week. But I am going to give my opinion. We will grade the offense, defense, and special teams each week on a letter-grade scale. There are no D’s; thank you, Fulton County School Systems, for never giving out D’s. Also, we will give out a player of the game each week. This week, it was pretty easy to pick the player of the game. Alright, let’s get into the report card.
Scoring 41 points in a game usually warrants an A+ plus on the report card. But the first half and the offense line issues are why the offense gets a B-. Initially, I would go with a C after seeing the game, but after rewatching and seeing the stat lines, it moved to a B-. Carson Beck nearly threw for 300 yards and was over 67% completion percentage. That is a pretty good day at quarterback.
Furthermore, Kendall Milton had over 50 yards rushing with only nine carries. Georgia as a team had over 100 yards rushing and, in total, gained over 500 yards offensively. So it was alright when you saw the numbers. However, seeing the first half and some of the struggles to get the offense going is in the back of the minds of most Georgia fans. We have been so spoiled over the past two years with Georgia’s offense just scoring at will that when we see a little struggle, we panic.
There are some things to be worried about, mainly the offensive line. The O-line has some excellent players; they have to play better. Most of fall camp was the talk around the program, the offensive line’s inconsistent play. The offensive line needs to be better for the confetti to rain over Georgia for the third straight year. I believe in Kirby Smart, Mike Bobo, and Stacy Searels. Having known a former UGA offensive lineman who Searels coached, Searels will do whatever it takes to get that line to perform. Overall, for week one, it wasn’t all that bad offensively. But it does need to get better.
The defense was solid, per usual. There is not much to complain about when discussing the defense side. So, you are probably wanting to know why Georgia’s defense did not get an A+. I saw some minor issues with the defense—mainly the defensive line’s ability to stop the run. It is not the 2021 or 2022 defense, and I recognize that. But, it looked like, at the time, the D-line was not getting enough push to stop the run.
Furthermore, in some instances, the defense over pursed the running game. Often, UT-Martin’s running backs would cut back on the defense and get 4 or 5 yards out of the carry. That is something that needs to be fixed, and it needs to be done quickly. The SEC has too many good tailbacks that will run all over Georgia’s defense if it continues to happen.
Another small area that is a minor issue was creating turnovers. Yes, they had a pick-six, but there were several opportunities to create turnovers. Malaki Starks had an excellent chance of getting a ball in the first half of the game. Coach Smart talked about the lack of turnovers by the defense and said he would have liked to see the defense get more of them. With the new clock rule, a defense that can create turnovers is massive. Offensive are already limited in their possessions with the running clock, so getting a turnover and scoring is a 10 to 14-point swing in a game. Outside of those minor issues, Georgia’s defense was solid once again. I have to say that it is nice knowing that you have a great defense year in and year out. It makes all the anxiety wash away.
Special Teams: A
Bret Thorson is as solid of a punter as there is in the SEC. UT-Martin’s punter looked a little better than Thorson’s, but Thorson did nothing wrong Saturday. The placekicker position looks to be still unsettled. Woodridge and Zirkel played well. I honestly do not know how Smart and the coaching staff make that choice. Both place kickers look pretty solid to me. Both did their job. The one thing about kickers is if you didn’t notice them, that is a good thing. I didn’t notice both, so they played well.
Now to the exciting part: kickoff and punt return. Mekhi Mews could be a new fan favorite. The guy can flat-out run. Not only is Mews fast, he is shifted and can change directions on a dime. A few times on Saturday, Mews might take one to the endzone. Georgia last had a returner like that when Isaiah Mckenzie. Mews will be fun to watch all season long at returner.
Georgia could have been better, especially in the first half. Everyone on the coaching staff and the team would say the same. I know it was UT-Martin, and many expected Georgia to be up 45 points going into halftime, but this is not Xbox. Games like last Saturday happened when Georgia played Samford, Kent State, and Kentucky last year. These types of games make the fan base panic, and then soon they will forget about this game in two or three weeks. It wasn’t pretty, but a 48-7 victory is good. I think Bear Bryant once said I would rather win and learn something than lose and learn something. I think Kirby Smart would say the same. Georgia football learns and moves on to week two, hopefully improving on miscues.
Player of the game:
Smart said that Georgia football does not give out game balls because he isn’t that smart to give one out. Well, that means I am either stupid or smarter than Smart. (See what I did there.) My game ball goes to Mekhi Mews. Not only did he excite me for the future with his skills as a returner. Mews looks to be a significant wrinkle in the offense. Mews caught a receiver screen and took it 54 yards to score a touchdown. Mews’s stat line was five receptions for 75 yards. He was only three yards shy of Bowers to be the Dawg’s leading receiver. Mews will be exciting to watch on special teams and offense. I believe Mews will have a few more players in the games this season.