BATON ROUGE, LA. – There were no excuses from the Georgia players on Saturday at LSU’s Tiger Stadium, after the previously unbeaten and 2nd-ranked Bulldogs were manhandled to the tune of 36-16 by the host Tigers of Ed Orgeron.
The Bulldogs knew they didn’t play up to their “standard.” In fact, far from it as now 6-1 LSU seemed to do what it wanted to do on both sides of the ball. The Tigers built a 16-0 halftime lead on Georgia and never looked back, turning the game into a blowout with a 17-point final quarter.
In particular not playing up to his standard was the Bulldogs’ sophomore quarterback, Jake Fromm. Fromm, as opposed to his season-long 72 percent accuracy, was off target most of the afternoon. He completed just 16-of-34 passing attempts, threw two interceptions and was also sacked three times. And even Fromm thought the Bulldogs got too pass happy at times … when tailbacks D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield were ripping off sizable gains on the ground.
“During that span (early in game), we were gashing them pretty good with the run plays and the tight zone,” said Fromm. “We were just taking advantage of what they were giving to us, and then they started kind of taking that away later in the game and we started slinging the ball around a little bit.”
“All the struggles weren’t his, he made some third down throws I thought were really good,” head coach Kirby Smart said, “And a couple times he ends up getting sacked, and he’s got to make a decision to get rid of the ball, but we don’t run the right route on one of them. He’s looking for a route, and they don’t run that route, there’s a miscommunication.”
Smart said the Tigers brought good pressure on Fromm at times and that was instrumental in the passing game not being in sync.
“There’s a lot of pressures they run that are hard to pick up,” Smart said, “and I was very concerned with that coming into the game. There were some times where he was looking for the check-down and it wasn’t there, [and] two times we had a miscommunication on a route, where’s he looking for a certain route and it breaks down. He’s either got to get rid of it, or he’s got to run it and take off,” Smart reiterated.
“Some of those you’ve got to escape and get rid of the ball,” Smart said. “I didn’t think it was the protection as much as it was making decisions quicker, getting rid of the ball quicker. And at the end of the day, don’t be in third-and-long.”
As opposed to the ineffective passing attack, Holyfield averaged 8.0 yards per carry while Swift averaged 6.0 yards per trip but, Holyfield carried the ball just seven times in the loss while Swift ran it only 12 times. Thus, in the rushing department Saturday Georgia totaled just a measly 113 net yards.
“I’m not sure,” said Holyfield. “I don’t call the plays, so I just go out there and try to execute to the best of my ability. I have full trust in my offensive coordinator (Jim Chaney) and whatever he calls. Whatever he calls I’m going to go out there and try to execute it to the best of my ability.”
“We just didn’t execute today,” said Swift. “When we execute we have success and we didn’t do that today. We just stopped ourselves too many times.”
Smart said the Tigers adjusting their defense had much to do with the Bulldogs abandoning the run game to an extent as the game moved along.
“We actually went right back to it, and it didn’t work,” Smart said. “We were in four-open sets and we were running the ball really well and we drove down there and … we kind of stayed with that the next drive. We went back to it. They changed some things up and it wasn’t working as well.”
Smart said, in conclusion, the Bulldogs simply didn’t show up at Tiger Stadium with their A-game on Saturday.
“We didn’t play our best game,” he said. “You have to give LSU credit. They are a great football team. We didn’t do well against their hurry-up offense, which caused us to not be able to play as many guys as we normally do. They did a great job of mixing up their play calls with run and pass. Offensively, we had a drought and they capitalized. We didn’t come out physical today. We just have to execute better and get better overall. That responsibility starts and falls with me. LSU did a helluva job.”
Smart has talked all season about the Bulldogs being able to impose their will on their opponent. Well, sad to say the 13th-ranked LSU Tigers, backed into a corner by the upset loss to Florida the previous Saturday, came out and imposed their will on Georgia in this game.
Now, the Bulldogs get the chance to regroup, recuperate and then play up to their standard once again. That chance will come Saturday week down in Jacksonville after the open date this coming weekend. Both Georgia and Florida will enter the annual “cocktail party” with identical 6-1 season and 4-1 SEC marks and, for sure, the survivor of that game will gain the inside track on the SEC East Division crown and the trip to Atlanta on Dec. 1.