It was about like everyone expected … and then some!
Fifth-ranked Georgia, a 40-plus point favorite over an outmanned UMass team, scored every single time the Bulldogs got the football Saturday at Sanford Stadium — except on the final possession when UGA reserves were just running out the clock — to swamp the Minutemen by a 66-27 tally.
In climbing to 10-1 and now awaiting next Saturday’s high noon collision with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, it seemed like everyone on Georgia’s offensive unit posted a highlight reel of some sort as the Bulldogs produced nine touchdowns and one field goal on their 11 possessions, not counting when Terry Godwin uncharacteristically muffed a UMass punt, while compiling a staggering 701 yards of total offense. Rushing for 426 yards and passing for 275 more, the 701 total was second in school history only to the 713 yards amassed against Florida Atlantic in 2012.
Take a gander at the individual accomplishments. Playing most of the day in relief of starter Jake Fromm, freshman Justin Fields took advantage of his opportunity to run the offense by completing 5-of-8 passing attempts for 121 yards including a 57-yard touchdown strike to Mecole Hardman, an 11-yard scoring pass to Riley Ridley and another 54-yard pass to tight end Isaac Nauta. Fields also kept the ball seven times for 100 yards including runs of 47 and 29 yards as well as a 3-yard touchdown run.
With D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield seeing most of their playing time in the first half when the Bulldogs built a commanding 42-13 lead, it remained for another freshman, James Cook, to follow Fields in the rushing department with 76 yards on just three second-half carries including touchdown runs of 26 and 27 yards. Brian Herrien, also in just the second half, rushed for 53 yards in six trips including a 6-yard scoring run. Holyfield notched 50 yards on six carries with a touchdown, all in the first half, and Swift tacked on 49 yards on nine carries before watching from the sideline in the final two quarters.
Fromm, before turning the QB reins over to both Fields and then Matthew Downing, completed all five of his passing attempts for 106 yards including an on-the-money 71-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Simmons down the left sidelines. Junior receiver Simmons also tallied the Bulldogs’ first touchdown of the day on a 49-yard run on a jet sweep with still 13:01 left in the first quarter.
Defensively, Georgia shut down the Massachusetts run game by checking the Minutemen to 103 yards but one guy the Bulldogs couldn’t contain was the nation’s leading receiver, Andy Isabella. The quick and fast, 5-10, 190-pound senior burned the UGA secondary for 15 catches for 219 yards and touchdowns of 75 and 45 yards. But then, the majority of Isabella’s big gainers came down the stretch of the second half, after the Bulldogs had long since run off and hide from the Minutemen. Senior quarterback Ross Comis drilled 23-of-31 passing attempts for 278 yards and two touchdowns, being picked off once by Bulldog linebacker Tae Crowder.
With 25 different Georgia defensive players recording at least one tackle, sophomore safety Richard LeCounte led the way with five stops, followed by senior linebacker Natrez Patrick with four tackles. Junior safety J.R. Reed recorded a sack while D’Andre Walker, Malik Herring, Adam Anderson and Jordan Davis were all credited with half-sacks.
So when you win a game by a 39-point margin, it’s a pretty enjoyable and relaxing afternoon for the Bulldogs’ players and fan base alike … a virtual stroll in the park, if you will.
But now, the intensity ratchets up considerably over the next two weekends. Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets (7-4) will buzz between the hedges on Saturday having won four consecutive games and, six of their last seven contests following a 30-27 overtime win over Virginia Saturday. Tech will be gunning for its third consecutive Sanford Stadium win over the Bulldogs.
Then, following the immense challenge of attempting to slow down the Jackets’ nation-leading, triple-option rushing attack comes the SEC Championship showdown in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 1 against the nation’s top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.