STATS THAT MATTER: Georgia – 17, Auburn – 40

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STATS THAT MATTER: Georgia – 17, Auburn – 40

Mecole Hardman (4) - UGA vs. Auburn, Sat., Nov. 11, 2017 -
Mecole Hardman (4)
– UGA vs. Auburn, Sat., Nov. 11, 2017 –


AUBURN, Ala. – 31-10, 42-14, 31-3, 41-0, 45-14, 53-28, 42-7. Those were the beatdowns the Georgia Bulldogs put on Appalachian State, Samford, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Florida, respectively, this football season.


To the horror of the Bulldog Nation, its No. 1-ranked team was on the other end of one of these things here Saturday night as the 10th-ranked Auburn Tigers all but ran Georgia out of Jordan-Hare Stadium with a 40-17 rout of the stunned Bulldogs.

And as Georgia attempts to regroup for Saturday’s home bout with the Kentucky Wildcats, these weekly Stats That Matter – which have looked so glorious the season-long – are more than hideous for this game as the Bulldogs seemingly committed every penalty known to man while being stoned both offensively and defensively by the sky-high Tigers.


On the Bulldogs’ only touchdown drive of the first half, after Georgia received the opening kickoff, Jake Fromm had completions of 28 and 26 yards, to Javon Wims and Terry Godwin. Late in the second quarter, Fromm had a 30-yard strike to Wims. In the second half, the only 20-plus yards play was when Fromm and Wims hooked up once again on a 38-yard completion. Auburn, meantime, when Kerryon Johnson wasn’t bulling for six, seven yards at a time, was also chalking up huge gainers. Jarrett Stidham had touchdown passes of 42 and 55 yards, also completed a 32-yard pass, and wide receiver Eli Stove had a 34-yard dash on an end-around.


Where do you want to start? This area was a killer for the Bulldogs all four quarters. There was a personal foul late hit out of bounds (by Malkom Parrish), an interference penalty on an Auburn fair catch (by Jayson Stanley) and then a personal foul roughing-the-kicker penalty against the Auburn punter (by D’Andre Walker). Also throw in an illegal substitution penalty on Georgia and Julian Rochester jumping offsides and keeping a Tiger field goal drive going. And, folks, that was all in the first half. In the third quarter Sony Michel, of all people, was tagged with a personal foul while in punt coverage and UGA punter Cameron Nizialek was inexplicably assessed for a false start. As Kirby Smart said, “We had uncharacteristic, dumb penalties all night.” And Mecole Hardman, who otherwise had a big night in the loss with 203 total yards in kick returns and receptions, coughed the ball up on a punt return at the Bulldogs’ 23, which the Tigers converted into a touchdown to up their lead to 23-7 at the time.


This area has been sound for the Bulldogs all season … until this past Saturday night. Rodrigo Blankenship misfired on a 42-yard field goal attempt on the final snap of the half, after the Bulldogs opted to not pass for the end zone when they had the ball at the AU 26 with 22 seconds remaining. Had Blankenship, who did drill a 47-yard kick in the third quarter, made his 3-pointer, it would have pulled the Bulldogs within 16-10 at the halftime break. Then, as mentioned, there were the interference and roughing-the-kicker penalties on the punt coverage team and the fumble by Hardman on the punt return. Nizialek did average 44.6 yards on eight punts including four kicks inside the Auburn 20.


Time after time, it seemed Georgia’s defensive front had Johnson stopped at the line of scrimmage only to allow him to pull away from first hits and convert first down yardage for Auburn. Look at the Tigers’ 40 points and 488 yards of offense and you realize how poorly the Bulldogs’ defense performed.


Not much consolation but the Bulldogs did have only the lost fumble by Hardman while the Tigers played turnover-free football.


Georgia did convert touchdowns on both its trips inside the red zone, on the Bulldogs’ opening drive of the game and in the last 2:19 of the game after Auburn had built a 40-10 lead. Striking continuously from long range, the Tigers got three field goals and one touchdown after crossing the Georgia 20.


As expected, when you have only 46 yards net rushing and 184 passing, this was a terrible night in this area for the Bulldogs as they were just 3-of-14 in third-down conversions. Auburn wasn’t any better, going 4-of-13 but then, many of the Tigers’ scores came on first and second down plays.


Georgia ran 61 plays for its paltry 230 yards of offense while the Tigers ran 71 plays for their 488 total.


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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.