ATHENS, GA. — Moving up to No. 9 in the Coaches Poll and continuing to hold down the No. 10 spot in the Associated Press rankings after dispatching Kentucky 21-0 Saturday night in a heavy rainstorm at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium, Georgia now sets its sights on the No. 7-ranked Florida Gators.
In a contest that will certainly give the winner an inside track to the SEC East title and the conference championship game Dec. 7 in Atlanta, the Bulldogs and Gators will collide Nov. 2 at TIAA Stadium in Jacksonville.
After neither team could score in the first half, Georgia cashed three touchdowns in the final two quarters to subdue Kentucky and climb to 6-1 on the season and 3-1 in the SEC. With the Bulldog passing game struggling mightily for a second consecutive game, it’s doubtful if Georgia could have survived the Wildcats’ upset bid without having junior tailback D’Andre Swift on the field. Swift took charge of the UGA offense in the critical second half and finished the night with 179 rushing yards and touchdown runs of 39 and 3 yards.
Said Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops: “Obviously, this is a difficult loss in a tough environment for us today. The weather was a big factor, but it was a very good football game. It came down to several plays that really made a difference. Give Georgia credit — D’Andre Swift is an impressive player. I just gave him a ‘congratulations’ after the game and wished him ‘goodbye,’ because he needs to go to the NFL. He’s an elite player.”
Without question, Florida’s capable defense will be primed to slow down Swift and the Georgia running game, thus making it a necessity for Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs’ aerial game to show up once again in Jacksonville.
PLAYS OF 20 PLUS YARDS , OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
This was mostly the D’Andre Swift show as, in addition to his 39-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter, Swift had runs of 23 and 20 yards. Georgia’s only other 20-plus play came on a Fromm-to-George Pickens 21-yard hookup. The only big play Kentucky had from scrimmage was a 21-yard run by QB Lynn Bowden. The ‘Cats also had a 58-yard kickoff return by Zach Johnson.
The Bulldogs had only four penalties for 33 yards but several of them came at inopportune moments. Prather Hudson had a holding call on a punt return; tight end Charlie Woerner was also whistled for holding on a good Brian Herrien run; DJ Daniel was tagged for grabbing the face mask, and Georgia once was penalized for illegal substitution, having 12 men in the formation.
SPECIAL TEAMS WINS VS. MISCUES
For the second consecutive outing, Georgia punter Jake Camarda punted the football high and far, to put the Wildcat offense into poor field position. Camarda averaged 52.8 yards on six kicks including a 64-yard punt. The Bulldogs’ kick coverage team did have the breakdown on Johnson’s 58-yard return following Herrien’s 8-yard scoring run late in the third quarter.
Can’t get much better than a shutout, which the Georgia defense pitched against the Wildcats. Prior to the Bulldogs’ 92-yard scoring march in the final quarter, which was capped by Swift’s 3-yard run, the Bulldogs stoned the Kentucky offense for four plays inside the Georgia 10-yard line.
Kirby Smart lauded the Bulldogs for not having a single turnover in this game … despite the contest being played in a steady rain throughout. And Georgia did force a crucial fumble by Kentucky, J.R. Reed separating Lynn Bowden from the ball and Richard LeCounte recovering at the ‘Cats’ 31 to set up Herrien’s 8-yard scoring run and boost the Bulldogs into a 14-0 lead.
RED ZONE (OFFENSE, DEFENSE)
Georgia notched touchdowns on both of its excursions inside the UK 20. Kentucky moved into the red zone only on that one occasion before the Bulldogs halted the ‘Cats’ scoring bid at the 8-yard line.
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
Nothing to write home about for either team in this area. The Bulldogs converted first downs on just three of 12 third-down opportunities while the Wildcats were 3-of-13 on the night. Georgia converted once in two fourth-down tries, with Fromm being stopped for no gain on a QB sneak on the other attempt.
RUN, PASS ATTEMPTS (TOTAL PLAYS)
The Bulldogs ran the ball 43 times for 235 yards and passed it 12 times, completing 9 but just for a meager 35 passing yards. That’s 55 total plays for 270 total yards of offense. Kentucky, going against a UGA defense that is now allowing only 10.57 points per game and still has not surrendered a rushing touchdown in the seven games, compiled just 177 yards on 51 plays with all but 17 of that total coming on the ground.