In The Trenches: Georgia vs. Kentucky 2020

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In The Trenches: Georgia vs. Kentucky 2020

Georgia offensive lineman Justin Shaffer (54), Georgia offensive lineman Trey Hill (55)], Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland (74), and Georgia offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer (69) during the Bulldogs' game with Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (Photo by Michael Clubb/Kentucky Kernel)
Georgia offensive lineman Justin Shaffer (54), Georgia offensive lineman Trey Hill (55)], Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland (74), and Georgia offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer (69) during the Bulldogs’ game with Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (Photo by Michael Clubb/Kentucky Kernel)

I like to watch line play. This Georgia football era may be the best time in my life for following the big guys, but trench warfare is ugly; very few fans are interested in the guys with a hand in the dirt. These days college is all about offense. Georgia’s recent Rose Bowl win was a great game by today’s standards, while Georgia’s win at Kentucky is seen by many as a failure.

Defense 

A few years ago, Georgia fans would have seen a win like Saturday’s defensive struggle over a tough Kentucky team in Lexington as a solid thrashing. However, those days are long gone, and just like Kirby Smart said in one of his press conferences last week, nobody wants to watch a defensive struggle. Offense rules, and Georgia’s needs help. Unfortunately, as UGA learned against Alabama, it is difficult for a defense to shut down the best teams when rules favor offensive production.

I did not see either line (offense or defense) as the problem, at the risk of making excuses. Everyone looking for an explanation of Saturday’s seemingly poor result needs only look to the offense. When a team scores three points in these days of explosive offenses, the defense has played exceptionally well – even when playing a pedestrian UK squad. The Bulldog defensive line, with both Jordan Davis and Julian Rochester on the bench with injuries, held Kentucky’s touted rushing game when it counted, and blitz pressure had the Cats off-balance all day.

Offense

If the problem is not on defense, and the offensive line played well, why was there so little offensive production? In his postgame press conference, Kirby Smart said that the offense wasn’t struggling, and he remained resolute in his support of Stetson Bennett. To me, Kirby was saying that Bennett executed the game plan. In other words, the plan was to run the ball, get a lead, run the clock, and don’t take chances. While the plan worked, most fans likely see that as a losing strategy if the Dawgs employ the same tactic when they get to Jacksonville next weekend.

Kirby Smart is not building game plans for fan approval. The core of every offense is the line, and Georgia leaned on their big uglies to grind out a win in Lexington. Kirby and Company planned to run the ball straight at The Wildcats and returned to Athens with the win. Will they be able to execute the same strategy at the Cocktail Party? If Bennett is still the Bulldog quarterback next week, we should get ready for more of the same. Hopefully, the outcome will match because help for the offense does not appear to be imminent.

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.