Georgia Football: Grading the Dawgs performance against Florida

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 28: Carson Beck #15 of the Georgia Bulldogs throws a pass during the 2nd half of a game against the Florida Gators at EverBank Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 28: Carson Beck #15 of the Georgia Bulldogs throws a pass during the 2nd half of a game against the Florida Gators at EverBank Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Georgia football crushed “those lousy stinkin’ Gators” 43-20 last Saturday. Some in the media that cover Georgia football think that Georgia fans should not celebrate Florida because Florida is bad. To that reporter, I either cover Georgia the way Georgia fans want or don’t cover them. They are the reason we make money! This blogger will celebrate one more day, and then  I will move on to Mizou. But it is Monday, so it is time to give out report cards! We all know how this works: you get a letter grade based on how well you played. Remember, we go off on the Fulton County Schools System grading scale. There are no D’s, only F’s. No team or player is left behind here at the Max Tolbert Football Academy. But I don’t think we will give out F’s this week! Alright, let’s get into some grades.

Offense: A

Anytime you score 43 points on a rival, you get an A on the report card. Saturday’s performance by the offense was one of the better outings they had all season. I can only think of the Kentucky game coming in a close second. The Dawgs on third down were pretty good going for 6-12; that’s 50% to you and me. The Dawgs also, as an offense, gained 486 yards, almost 500 yards. Carson Beck threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Beck also hit 19 completions out of 28 attempts. The Heisman race is wide-open, and Beck should start getting some Heisman hype, the way he is playing. The questions and doubts have all been silenced, and Beck is the guy who can lead Georgia to another national title.

The running backs had another great game. Daijun Edwards ran the ball 15 times for 96 yards, and Kendall Milton ran the ball for 13 carries and 55 yards.  Both had touchdowns, but Edwards had two. Georgia has a team that ran for 171 yards. The Dawgs averaged 4.5 yards per rushing attempt—great job by the running backs, but also a shoutout to the offensive line.

The O-line had one of its best games all season. Not only were they getting push up front in the run game, they did not allow a sack all game. Beck never had to worry about Florida’s pass rush—great job by the O-line at every position. Also, Monroe Freeling is a dog upfront; I was impressed watching him play Saturday.

Many in the media wonder what Georgia’s offense would look like without Brock Bowers. Some wondered who would step up in his absence. Others wondered if the offense would take a step back. But the offense did not take a step back; they took a step forward and looked more explosive.

Also, there was one guy you stepped up in Bowers’s absence, Ladd McConkey. McConkey had six catches and went for 135 yards and one touchdown. But it was just not McConkey stepping up. It was all of the wideouts. Rara Thomas and Dominic Lovett had good games. We will see more of Rara down the stretch. Thomas understands the offense more and could be a massive weapon for the Dawgs.

Why just an A, not an A plus? The Dawgs stalled a bit during the late second quarter and early third quarter. I believe they got caught in the middle of being aggressive and trying to kill the clock. If the Dawgs had scored right before halftime, it would have been a kill shot. Kirby Smart and Mike Bobo will harp on that film time. Overall, it was a great day for the offense.

Defense: A

This year, I have grown concerned about the defense. This year’s defense was unlike the previous two years and has not been the dominating defense we are all used to. I said it in many posts, but I was not going to worry all that much about a Kirby Smart-led defense. But after the Vanderbilt game, I started to worry just a bit.

The Dawgs were not creating havoc plays. Havoc, for those who do not know, is creating pressure on the QB and forcing him to get out of his comfort zone or rush his timing. Outside of that Kentucky game, the Dawgs needed help creating that havoc. Against Florida, they did that and more. I think the Dawgs were averaging one sack a game, and they got 5 in the game.

The defensive line played a great game, and they were collectively in Florida’s backfield all day. The pressure Mertz felt was constant and unrelenting, which was a great sign. The Dawgs only allowed 109 yards, and many rushing yards came in garbage time. Graham Mertz threw for 230 yards through the air, but again, a lot was on the second and third-string defenders.

I have been critical of the linebackers all season, and on Saturday, they played their best game of the year. When I am wrong, I am wrong. Jamon Dumas-Johnson had a great game, and so did Smael Mondon. Both were dominant and brought pressure when the Dawgs needed it.

Hopefully, this is the type of performance that the Dawgs will have consistently. Many people perceive Georgia as vulnerable because the defense has yet to play up to the likes of the past two seasons. Last week against Florida was more like how Georgia fans expect their defense to play.

Special Teams: A-

Peyton Woodring did what was needed, and that is a kicker’s job. Woodring has been money ever since that South Carolina game. Also, did you know Georgia has not given up yards on punts all season? Not one single yard! That is an incredible stat line. Hopefully, I did not jinx it. So, shoutout to Brett Thornson and the punt team. Mehki Mews had an excellent day returning. It feels like Mews will take one to the house again soon. I am going to nitpick one more time. But can we just kick the ball into the endzone every time? On the opening kick for the game, Florida got an excellent starting field position because Georgia did not cover the kickoff well. I know they did nothing else the rest of the game, but it shortened their field, and they scored the opening possession with a good return. So all I ask Kirby Smart is to tell the kicker to boot it in the back of the endzone, please! Thank you!

Overall: A

Great day for the Dawgs. They did everything well to blow the doors off the Gators. It is always lovely to see teal seats in Jacksonville early in the third quarter. Nothing is better than beating Florida. All those years when we would go down there and hope for a miracle win, and now the Dawgs own this rivalry. It was so bad Florida fans on social media were tweeting about recruits. We have finally broken them. It is a thing of beauty when you stop and think about it. The MVP of the game was Ladd McConkey. Everyone wondered who would step up in the absence of Brock Bowers, and we got our answer in Ladd McConkey. We will soon see him pull a Larry Bird move, laying down on the bench because of his bad back, but like Bird, he was unstoppable Saturday. I am ready for the Mizzou game, and I am ready for another march to the CFP playoffs.

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