Georgia defense gets offensive

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Georgia defense gets offensive

The start of the Georgia-Florida game was not a typical Georgia game this year with the way that the Bulldogs have dominated opponents in the first quarter. It took the Bulldogs more than a quarter to get on the board and the ‘Dawgs clinched to a 3-0 lead with just over three minutes left to play in the first half.

Then Georgia’s defense showed why it is the best unit in the country, even during a “strange” game as described by Kirby Smart. Coming off of a Stetson Bennett interception that led the Gators to start at their own two-yard line, Georgia’s defensive line forced three turnovers that led to 21 points in a 2:35 span.

“It’s just momentum swings,” said Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith. “When momentum goes the other way guys feed off of each other guys. We always talk about connection and you feel it. If you don’t see it on the sidelines, you’d be absolutely absurd.”





Florida head coach Dan Mullen finally made the decision to give quarterback Anthony Richardson his first start of the year. Georgia exposed his inexperience with a series of plays led by Smith and Nakobe Dean that swung the momentum quickly and persuasively in Georgia’s favor. 

Richardson took a quarterback run up the middle and while he continued to move forward, Smith manhandled the ball right out of his possession to give Georgia the ball on its own 11-yard line. James Cook then scored on the next snap and Georgia took a 10-0 lead. 

On the next possession, Travon Walker deflected a pass from Richardson, which ended up in Smith’s hands for his second takeaway in as many drives. It was Smith’s first career interception and second career forced fumble and fumble recovery. Bennett hit Kearis Jackson on the offense’s next play for a 36-yard touchdown.





The nail in the coffin was Richardson attempting to still score with 17 seconds left in the first half. Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean perfectly jumped an attempted quick pass to Florida running back Malik Davis and returned the pick 50 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-0. 

“I felt like we were controlling the game because we were able to run the ball, we were able to move the ball, we just didn’t have points to show for it,” said Smart. “I told our team discipline and aggression would win the game, well discipline takes patience… you get everyone’s best shot when you are in the position that we are in. I thought that once it happened, it snapped and I thought our discipline and patience showed up with turnover-after-turnover-after-turnover.”

It wasn’t an “elite” defensive performance as a whole according to Smart but the Georgia defense finally excelled in a category that they have been mediocre in this season: creating turnovers. Coming into the matchup with Florida, Georgia was tied for 70th in the country in forced turnovers. 

The Gators actually outgained the Bulldogs 355-354 in total yards and also won the time of possession battle. Georgia also turned the ball over three times off of two Bennett interceptions and a Kenny McIntosh fumble. Bennett said he “didn’t play his best game at all.” 

And yet, Georgia still won the game by 27 points over its arch-rival. The defense gave up far more yards than normal today but made up for it by making plays at the perfect time. This is a group that will not go away because of the pride that they play with; it is apparent on each and every possession. 

Georgia even fought to the end to try and break Florida’s shutout streak – the Gators have not been shut out since 1988, which makes it 418 games in a row that they have scored a point. On Saturday, it was a late Emory Jones rushing touchdown that put UF on the board.

Even with Smart assuring all week that it was not about payback on Florida for last year’s defeat, Georgia’s defensive players took the matchup to heart.

“It’s personal,” said Smith. 

What made it personal?






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