During the late second quarter of the UAB game, a friend of mine told me, “every play should be a touchdown.” He wasn’t being 100% serious, but he certainly was mirroring the frustration that many Dawg fans have felt over the course of the first four games. It’s no secret that Georgia has not dominated teams the way they have over the past few years. It’s certainly frustrating, but it’s reality. Georgia has set such a remarkably high standard for what success means to the team that anything shy of complete and utter demolition of the opposition seems to be a failure.
Even though the Bulldogs have not reached their potential early in the season, there are many positives to take away. Against UAB, Georgia was 6 of 6 in the redzone, an area the Bulldogs struggled with mightily against South Carolina. Carson Beck threw for 338 yards and accounted for four touchdowns. Brock Bowers had nine receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Daijun Edwards also added two touchdowns on just 12 carries. These numbers would suggest that Georgia was dominant, but self-inflicted wounds prevented the Dawgs from putting the game away early.
Georgia missed two deep shots to wide open receivers. Beck flat out missed Jackson Meeks on the first deep ball, and Arian Smith was unable to adjust on another. Both should’ve been touchdowns, but the Bulldogs failed to capitalize. Brock Bowers put the ball on the ground once, but fortunately for the Bulldogs, the ball rolled to the sideline. On special teams, both Mekhi Mews and Dillion Bell coughed the football up, both times recovered by the Blazers. Late in the game, Gunner Stockton’s pass was intercepted to cap off a three-turnover night for the No. 1 team in the country.
On the defensive side of the football, Georgia allowed UAB to reach its end zone on three occasions. UAB had plenty of early down success dumping the ball to their tight end in the flat for chunk yards. The Blazers were able to gain a remarkable 20 first downs against Georgia’s defense. However, the Bulldog defense was left in short field situations multiple times due to turnovers.
It appears that Georgia is still looking for someone to fill the void left behind by Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith, who were the type of players who allowed Georgia to get pressure on a quarterback without the need for risky blitzes and pressures. Mykel Williams has been Georgia’s top pass rusher – and he is more than capable of being Georgia’s next great defensive lineman – but Williams was unable to suit up due to illness. Warren Brinson had an excellent sack from the interior defensive line on a third down in the first quarter. Brinson appears to be separating himself on the interior of the defensive line as he has been one of the more effective players with his interior pass rush. Coach Smart believes in a committee approach along the line, but Georgia will need some dominate play from that position group to reach their lofty goals of another championship.
Unfortunately for Mike Bobo distractors, the man called a really good game. Go rewatch the tape. Georgia’s errors were due to failed execution on well-designed, explosive plays and because of turnovers on special teams. Regardless, Georgia found a way to get Brock Bowers the ball almost double-digit times. They were 10 of 13 on third downs, and (finally) aggressive early in the game. The play calling was less conservative, which needs to continue heading into the SEC slate.
Looking ahead to this coming week, Georgia faces an always motivated Auburn team coming off a tough loss. The Tigers are dealing with significant offensive struggles, particularly at the quarterback position, and are coming off a performance where their offensive line was dismantled. Auburn’s quarterbacks combined for 56 yards between three players, and the Tiger offense put up just 200 total yards. Auburn’s only touchdown of the game was a Eugene Asante fumble recovery to the house for 67 yards.
Despite Auburn’s struggles on offense, Jordan-Hare Stadium is one of the most challenging environments in college football, and the team from the Plains has no shortage of hatred for UGA. Don’t worry Auburn fans, the feeling is mutual. Hugh Freeze is certainly looking for a program altering win, and Georgia has flaws that can be exposed.
Georgia will have to play stout against the run, as that is Auburn’s identity. Texas A&M held Auburn’s leading rusher, quarterback Payton Thorne, to -34 yards. Sacks count in this statistic, but Thorne was unable to use his legs to make plays. Robby Ashford, Throne’s back-up, suffered the same fate, finishing with only four yards through the air and 25 on the ground. A&M brought the house through blitzes all game, and Auburn was incapable of finding a solution.
When the Bulldogs take the field at Jordan-Hare on Saturday, it is vital that they start fast on both sides of the ball. In these kinds of rivalry games, statistics get thrown out the window. Auburn’s defense is extremely physical, and they have enough talent around the team to give Georgia problems in a hostile environment. With that being said, the Bulldogs are undoubtedly the far superior team. Play like it and keep this championship team rolling down the tracks to another SEC title.