In Georgia’s 21-0 win over the Kentucky Wildcats the offense failed to score a single point in the first half. The Bulldogs had 123 total yards of offense in the first half, and 95 of them were rushing yards. They ran 30 plays, and some fans joked on social media that most of them seemed like offensive coordinator James Coley was just pressing the “Ask Madden” button in EA Sports’ Madden NFL 20.
According to head coach Kirby Smart a lot of the offensive game plan was impacted by the weather, and he and his coaching staff knew it was going to be rough conditions even before the game started.
“There’s not a lot you can do in those conditions, they didn’t play a ton of man to man,” Smart said. “They played in different coverages, they mixed up what they were doing. It’s tough to throw the ball in those elements. It’s makes it hard and challenging. You’ve got to be smart about it, and you’ve got to work in it. We were able to do that a lot. I was pleased with the effort and toughness and resiliency that our guys continued to show.”
Those conditions Saturday didn’t help as the field was soaked, and playing with a wet ball can cause problems. But it was evident that Georgia’s coaching staff was being wary of what kinds of plays they were calling. On a few occasions on third down the Bulldogs decided to try and gain a first down on the ground.
Throughout the entire contest Georgia ran the ball more on first down as some of Jake Fromm’s passes were affected by him throwing a wet ball. Fromm missed several throws on third down that he would normally make in a game with regular weather conditions. He missed Demetris Robertson on a short slant on third down, and overthrew Kearis Jackson on a quick out route.
Coming off their worst performance of the season against South Carolina, many fans expected Georgia’s offense to blossom once again against a weakened Kentucky defense. The issues with the passing game in the first half, and the lack of points to show at halftime many fans booed the team and coaching staff as they ran off the field. The negative banter continued on Georgia’s first possession of the second half when they ran the ball on third and short, but didn’t convert.
Smart said that he didn’t hear any of the boos and didn’t even know they were going on. He also has yet to criticize Fromm’s performances and remains pleased with both that and Coley’s conservative play calling on Saturday.
“I’m not concerned,” Smart said when asked about how his offense has been playing and the structure around it. “I feel really good about what our offense does. I feel good about Jake. To judge it based on that game is just not very smart. It’s hard to judge anything in that game. You can’t evaluate that. What you’ve got to evaluate is what is your heart, what is your courage, what is your love of the game. Think about those wideouts in that game. That’s for the love of the game is what’s that for. George Pickens, Kearis Jackson, those guys going out there and block. That’s for the love of the game. You evaluate things based on what’s going on around them. What’s going on around them is a tough environment. I could have told you two days ago we weren’t going to go out there and throw it for 200 yards in those conditions. We had to put a plan together to give us the best chance to be successful. I thought we did a good job.”
To give Georgia’s offense credit, they did look a whole lot better against Kentucky. But they did have 260 more yards against South Carolina, and 41 more pass attempts. The weather wasn’t ideal, but Georgia managed to run the ball better in the second half after adjustments had been made. The run game also added a few more “explosive plays” that Kirby Smart acknowledged needed to happen more after the South Carolina game.
Before the game, Smart said he reminded his team that the weather conditions should take them back to when they were kids “playing in the mud.” Fromm was quick to state that he enjoyed leaving the pocket, and scrambling away from defenders.
“You take a three-step drop and you’re like, man, it’s not feeling right in my hands and guys aren’t as open as you want them to be and you,” Fromm said. “You try to make up any kind of yards with your legs.”
Despite the weather, Georgia’s offense was able to finish with 270 total yards on offense, which is their lowest of the season. 235 of those yards came on the ground, and the other 35 were from Fromm through the air.
Georgia has a bye this week, and their next game is against the No. 7 Florida Gators in Jacksonville on November 2, 2019.
Here is the video from Kirby Smart’s postgame presser: