Georgia came into this game versus Auburn with questions to answer. Who would the quarterback be? Would the offensive line be able to get movement? Could the defensive backs cover Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz? Could the defensive front get pressure on Bo Nix? Well, all of those questions seemed to be answered emphatically. Stetson Bennett IV appears to have grabbed the reigns at the quarterback position and all the other questions posed were answered in the affirmative.
The stats that matter will get into the specifics, but just in general terms, this is the most dominant and complete performance by a Georgia team in the last two plus seasons against a highly ranked opponent. The Dawgs defense was stifling from start to finish. The speed of this team is evident, as well as the depth. No doubt UGA will play better and more physical offensive and defensive fronts, and that starts Saturday when Georgia hosts Tennessee. For now though, it’s time to delve into the statistics that made the difference in the latest chapter of ‘The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry’.
Georgia improved their third down conversation rate by 34% from week 1 to week 2. The Dawgs were 9-of-14 on third down against the Tigers, as opposed to 6-of-20 in the opener versus Arkansas. Stetson Bennett IV and Kearis Jackson deserve a lot of credit for this. Bennett IV was calm and collective in the pocket and was able to use his legs when needed to create opportunities for his receivers to separate and for the Dawgs to move the chains. Bennett IV also continues to be very successful when opponents bring more than four pass rushers.
Georgia’s offensive line was able to win at the point of attack and created massive holes for the running backs. All five running backs for the Dawgs were making it to and through the line of scrimmage unevaded for the most part and continued to drive their legs when there was contact. In total, Georgia racked up 202 yards of rushing led by Zamir White with 88 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. When Georgia is able to run the ball and are “two dimensional”, as Kirby Smart referred to the offense after the victory over Auburn, the full effect of Todd Monken’s abilities to design plays comes to the forefront. The next two weeks will require a similar effort from the Georgia front and running backs for the offense to click the same way against the Volunteers and the Crimson Tide.
Georgia out gained Auburn by 226 yards. Monken, Bennett IV, and company finished with 442 total yards in comparison to Auburn’s Chad Morris and Bo Nix led 216. The defense was unrelenting and provided no quarter for the visiting Tigers. Auburn rushed for 39 yards the entire game. The inability to run the ball between the tackles for Auburn forced them to the air 41 times. That is a nightmare scenario for an inexperienced offensive line like Auburn’s against a deep and talented defensive line like Georgia’s. Also, the total output by the Dawgs resulted in drives being extended and a win in the time of possession battle as well. Georgia had the ball for 34:04 compared to Auburn’s 25:56.
Kearis Jackson averaged 16.3 yards per reception for Georgia against Auburn. As stated last week, everybody on the planet knows that George Pickens is the best receiver on the field, but in order for Georgia to reach the level of explosiveness they desired and still do desire, it was and is a must for another go to playmaker to emerge. Kearis Jackson is that playmaker.
Jackson has the speed to beat the defense deep, the awareness and precision to be a threat in the intermediate game, and the quickness to make things happen in the screen game as he did on a third-down and 21. If Jackson can continue to create separation and build upon his rapport with Stetson Bennett IV, then not only will he continue to make plays down the field, but George Pickens will get more 1-on-1 matchups as he did versus Auburn on a 21-yard touchdown reception.