Georgia starting quarterback JT Daniels did not have to take a single snap after the first quarter of Saturday’s matchup against Vanderbilt. Jordan Davis only played nine total snaps on defense and UGA did not need either of those guys for even one more play.
The No. 2 Bulldogs throttled the Commodores 62-0, after leading 35-0 at the end of the first quarter. To put it in perspective, Vanderbilt only had 77 total yards and was in danger of having fewer yards than Georgia had in points for most of the game.
The Bulldogs came in as 35-point favorites, so the dominant win surprises almost no one. However, the way Georgia was able to score so early gave them a chance to rest most of the stars while giving some of the under-the-radar players on the team a chance to shine in conference play.
“It rarely happens in our conference,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. “You take it for what it is and you grow the other players, you get a chance to develop them. I talked to an NFL GM that told me the best thing to do is to tell the players ‘go play good so the other guys can play.'” I didn’t have the guts to say it but they did, they went and played well and the other guys got to play because they played well.”
Georgia had two players both score on the ground and through the air in the first quarter, and they did not come from usual suspects like James Cook and Zamir White. Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey were the ones who led the charge, icing the game early for the Bulldogs.
For McConkey, those were his first two touchdowns of his college career after redshirting last season. Bowers continues to put the country on notice with his athletic ability as a true freshman. It’s not often that you see a tight end run an end-around, but that’s exactly what offensive coordinator Todd Monken dialed up for Bowers on the first score of the game.
“It’s something we’ve been working on in practice,” said McConkey on his 24-yard end-around misdirection touchdown. “Our coaches just put us in the right position at the right time. It made it easy for me when we have coaches like that.”
Defensively, Jalen Carter was throwing Vanderbilt offensive lineman around while making plays in the backfield. Kelee Ringo started at the other cornerback spot across from Derion Kendrick and was impressive from the jump with a pass breakup on the first drive.
The Bulldogs were able to use their second-string defense for the entire second half. That allowed reserves from fifth-year seniors like Robert Beal, who had the game’s only sack, to true freshman Kamari Lassiter, who got his first career interception later in the fourth quarter, to contribute to the shutout on Saturday.
Nolan Smith credited the standard that Georgia’s defense plays to in keeping the pressure on the Commodores, no matter the score.
“We always say it’s no dropoff,” said Smith. “If you’re out there, you’re a starter, It’s no one’s, two’s and three’s. I’m cheering for them just like If I was cheering for Adam [Anderson] out there… We say nobody in our endzone and that’s the standard that follows for everybody.”
Georgia also got to use multiple different arrangements up front on the offensive line. Players like Broderick Jones, Amarius Mims and Xavier Truss all saw extensive action in the second half, mainly with Carson Beck at quarterback. Among those three, two will could end up starting at the tackle spots for Georgia next season.
After three weeks of getting to play the reserves in games, The Bulldogs approach the difficult stretch in their schedule with most of their starters well-rested. Hopefully, for the Bulldogs, these younger players will be able to continue to contribute in the coming weeks as well.
The No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks, who will certainly move up in the rankings after beating Texas A&M, come to Athens next week for a noon kickoff before the ‘Dawgs hit the road to play at Auburn. Smart has raved about his team playing to an elite standard, but at the end of his post-game presser on Saturday, he challenged the fans to be elite.
“If our fans will be elite, we’ll have an opportunity to put on a heck of a show at 12:00 at Sanford Stadium next week,” said Smart.