Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game – Georgia vs. Kentucky

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Kevin Butler’s Players of the Game – Georgia vs. Kentucky

Kevin Butler – Georgia vs. Notre Dame 2017
Kevin Butler

 
 
OFFENSE
 
Sophomore tailback D’Andre Swift, who ran for a career-high 156 yards on 16 carries as the Bulldogs pummeled Kentucky’s highly-rated defense for 331 yards rushing. Swift had touchdown runs of 83 and 20 yards and also caught three passes for 18 yards.
 
“Swift had a career-high of 156 yards on 16 carries and three catches for 18 yards, for a total of 174 yards, and he complemented them with two of the nastiest moves in one run that I have ever seen … and I have seen some damn good running backs in my day,” said Butler. “Having D’Andre back at full speed gives our offense a tremendous advantage in the running game because of the FREEDOM D’Andre provides our starting tailback Elijah Holyfield. Holyfield is a great running back all by himself but when D’Andre is healthy the Dawgs have one of the best, if not the best, running back duo in America … again!”
 
 
DEFENSE
 Senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter, who had six tackles, a sack and two tackles-for-loss and also had a forced fumble as the Bulldog defense limited the SEC’s leading rusher, Benny Snell, to just 73 yards on 20 carries and the UK rushing attack to only 84 yards.
 
“The senior from Tucker High School had one of his best games of his career and it could not have come at a better time for the Bulldogs,” said Butler. “Ledbetter led the defense that was facing the biggest challenge of the year in Benny Snell and UGA won that challenge by shutting down the Kentucky ground game. Jonathan was a monster on the field and set a great example for the young pups on the field (and there were a lot) by recording six total tackles with three solo, a sack, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Jonathan played a tremendous game and we will need him to play at that same level this week against the War/tiger/plainsmen.”
 
 
SPECIAL TEAMS
 Junior kick returner Mecole Hardman, who got the Bulldogs going with a stirring 65-yard punt return, which led to the Georgia offense scoring on their first possession of the game.
 
“He is electric. He is fast. He is dangerous. He is ours!” said Butler. “Mecole is a hidden jewel for the Bulldogs as a returner. The return of 65 yards in the first quarter delivered a dose of reality to the Kentucky team and fans, putting the Bulldogs in position to score their first touchdown of the day. I always have had great respect for what Mecole can do and he showed that ability Saturday with an electric return to ignite the Bulldogs to dominate and go on to win the SEC East in Kentucky.”
 
 
UNSUNG CONTRIBUTOR TO THE GAME
 
The Bulldogs’ experience in big games this season, which paid off against a Kentucky team that hadn’t been on the big stage as much as Georgia.
 
“The Bulldogs’ experience was the hidden factor that helped Georgia dominate the Wildcats Saturday,” said Butler. “All we heard about was the experience of the Wildcats, a team filled with seniors. “Well, those seniors have not experienced half of what this Bulldog team has experienced this year … going to South Carolina, losing at LSU, bouncing back in Jacksonville and finishing the drill in Kentucky. That is how you become experienced, not hanging out at school for four years going through the motions. This Bulldog team is getting more experience every day and that was the difference in the game Saturday … the Bulldogs experience!”
 
 
 
 

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.