STATS THAT MATTER: A look back at what decided the game between Georgia and Georgia Tech

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STATS THAT MATTER: A look back at what decided the game between Georgia and Georgia Tech

The Georgia defensive line gets ready to go against the Tech offensive line, Saturday, November 30, 2019
The Georgia defensive line gets ready to go against the Tech offensive line, Saturday, November 30, 2019

ATLANTA, GA. –  Georgia, by exploding for 35 unanswered points in the second half to rout Georgia Tech by 52-7 Saturday, has put the cap on its third consecutive 11-1 regular-season mark.

Now, the fourth-ranked Bulldogs are making ready for the ultimate challenge … try to knock off a 12-0 LSU team for the SEC Championship. Georgia and the Tigers, whose offense has been all but unstoppable the entire 2019 season, will tee it up at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium with Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs needing a win to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Against an outmanned now 3-9 Georgia Tech team, the Bulldogs put up the most points against the Jackets in UGA history, topping the 51 the 2002 SEC champions tallied against Tech in Athens and, also, posted the largest victory margin ever against GT by winning by the 45 points.

But that’s not to say Georgia didn’t have some flaws at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field as the Bulldogs had to overcome a fumbled punt, two additional lost fumbles and Tech recovering a surprise onside kick following the Jackets’ lone touchdown of the game in the second quarter. Certainly, mistakes the Bulldogs can’t afford to make if they plan to go toe-to-toe with this LSU juggernaut come Saturday in Atlanta.

Of course, when you win by a 52-7 final, a team has to do an awful lot of things right as well, as are readily apparent in this week’s Stats That Matter.

PLAYS OF 20 PLUS YARDS, OFFENSE AND DEFENSE

Jake Fromm, in throwing a career-best four touchdown passes, had scoring tosses of 20 yards to his roommate Charlie Woerner — Woerner’s first career TD catch — and 41 yards to freshman George Pickens. Fromm also had a 25-yard strike to Tyler Simmons to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Brian Herrien, a 20-yard pass to Dominick Blaylock and a 47-yard pass to Eli Wolf. Playing the entire fourth quarter, backup quarterback Stetson Bennett hooked up with Matt Landers on a 26-yard pass. Tech’s only 20-yard gainer against the Bulldog defense was a 23-yard pass from James Graham to Malachi Carter.

UGA wide receiver George Pickens (1), third-quarter Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday, November 30, 2019
UGA wide receiver George Pickens (1), third-quarter Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday, November 30, 2019

UNTIMELY MISTAKES

These miscues kept the Bulldogs from leading by more than 17-7 at halftime. Blaylock lost the handle on a second-quarter Tech punt at the Georgia 17, which led to the Jackets’ only touchdown of the afternoon. D’Andre Swift uncharacteristically had two fumbles the Jackets recovered and after Tech scored, the Bulldogs fell victim to an onside kick. Conversely, Georgia played penalty-free football in the rout of Georgia Tech although freshman Pickens was ejected from the game after getting into a melee with Tech players and throwing punches, meaning he will miss the first half of this week’s championship game …that after sitting out the first half Saturday due to disciplinary reasons.

SPECIAL TEAMS WINS VS. MISCUES

While freshman receiver/punt returner Blaylock did have the fumbled punt, he also contributed heavily to the Georgia win by reeling off punt returns of 32 and 29 yards and pulled in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Fromm. Rodrigo Blankenship tallied the Bulldogs’ first points of the day on a 49-yard field goal although was wide right on a 42-yard attempt on the final play of the first half. Blankenship also booted seven kickoffs out of the end zone for touchbacks. Jake Camarda averaged 46.2 yards on four punts with three of them pinning Tech inside the 20-yard line. On one of his punts, Tyson Campbell downed the ball inside the Jackets’ 2-yard line and Campbell also scored the Bulldogs final touchdown of the day, recovering Camarda’s fumbled punt in the end zone. Georgia’s kickoff receiving team did allow the Jackets to recover their onside kick in the second quarter.

MISSED TACKLES

Georgia’s tenacious defense, second in the nation against scoring and also rushing defense, locked down on the Jacket ball carriers the day long, holding Tech to 99 yards net rushing and 40 yards passing.

Tyson Campbell looks to recover the ball after it is mishandled by a Yellow Jacket, fourth-quarter Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday, November 30, 2019
Tyson Campbell looks to recover the ball after it is mishandled by a Yellow Jacket, fourth-quarter Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday, November 30, 2019

TURNOVERS (GAINED/LOST)

Not a good day here as the Bulldogs fumbled three times and lost them all. Tyson Campbell had a fumble recovery in the end zone on a Tech punt. Neither Fromm nor Tech quarterback James Graham were intercepted.

RED ZONE (OFFENSE, DEFENSE)

The Bulldogs were clicking in this area, scoring five touchdowns in six trips inside the Tech 20-yard line. The Jackets could only make two trips inside the red zone, notching their lone touchdown on one of them.

THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS

An improved showing for Georgia here over recent outings as the Bulldogs cashed first downs on 7-of-13 third-down opportunities. And the Bulldogs’ defense only allowed the Jackets to notch three first downs in 17 third-down tries.

RUN, PASS ATTEMPTS (TOTAL PLAYS)

The Bulldogs ran the ball 40 times for 219 yards and Fromm and Bennett combined for 32 pass attempts, completing 16 for 281 yards. That’s 72 total plays for an even 500 yards of offense. The Yellow Jackets had 37 running plays for just the 99 yards rushing and passed the ball 21 times, completing just five for 40 yards. So the Georgia defense limited Tech to 139 yards of total offense on 58 plays

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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.