Let’s not even mention that rather significant game coming up in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium a week from Saturday. All the Bulldog Nation needs to know at the moment is that you’ve got a revitalized Georgia Tech team coming to town Saturday highly motivated to put a damper on Georgia’s 2018 championship hopes.
The Yellow Jackets of Paul Johnson venture between the hedges Saturday having won six of their past seven games and riding a four-game win streak. And, oh yes, did I mention they’re still running that triple-option offense and once again lead the entire United States in rushing?
So, most assuredly, the huge challenge is there for these now 10-1, fifth-ranked Bulldogs. Beat Tech at Sanford Stadium for the first time since 2012 and then, you can put all your focus on that little Dec. 1 game in the ATL.
Certainly, as you can see in this week’s Stats That Matter if the Bulldogs can put up anything close to the offensive numbers they did in the 66-27 rout of UMass this past Saturday, it should be an enjoyable afternoon against GT in Athenstown.
Plays of 20 plus yards (offense/defense)
There were six of these in the first half alone and three of them involved Justin Fields. Tyler Simmons started the offensive explosion with a 49 -yard touchdown run on the jet sweep, Fields ripped off a 47-yard run, Jake Fromm then hit Simmons on a 71-yard touchdown bomb, Fields also hit Isaac Nauta on a 54-yard strike, D’Andre Swift had a 20-yard run, and Fields connected with Mecole Hardman on a 57-yard touchdown pass. In the second half, Brian Herrien zipped for 24 yards, freshman James Cook dashed 26 yards for a touchdown and also notched a 23-yard run. Fields posted another 29-yard jaunt and Cook added to his big day off the bench with another 23-yard run plus his second touchdown via a 27-yard dash. UMass got a 42-yard run from Brennon Dingle and touchdown completions of 75 and 45 yards from Ross Comis to Andy Isabella.
It was a clean football game for the Bulldogs as they drew only two penalties for 20 yards. They lost only one fumble and Fields and Fromm didn’t throw any interceptions. But the one turnover proved costly as when Terry Godwin muffed a UMass punt in the first quarter with the Bulldogs up 14-0, the Minutemen recovered at the UGA 16 and struck for their first touchdown of the day.
Special teams wins vs. miscues
Scoring every time they had the football except when the offense ran clock and took a knee on the final possession, the Bulldogs didn’t punt the ball all day. Rodrigo Blankenship was true on his only field goal try, a 40-yarder, but opted to boot his first three kickoffs short of the goal line; however Blankenship did have seven touchbacks after that. The lone miscue here, as mentioned, was when Godwin seemed to misjudge the UMass punt and the Minutemen recovered the ball.
The Georgia defensive front was sure tackling on the UMass run plays but often times, after pass completions, the Bulldogs would allow the Minutemen receivers to spin away for extra yardage. Especially a thorn in the secondary’s side was Isabella, the nation’s leading receiver who had 15 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior linebacker Tae Crowder picked off a Comis pass to set up Blankenship’s field goal, which put the Bulldogs up 52-13 at the time. And the lone Georgia turnover came on Godwin’s muffed punt.
Red Zone (offense/defense)
The Dawgs were perfect inside the red zone, scoring four touchdowns in their four advances inside the UMass 20. The Minutemen also got points on all three of their red zone visits, with one touchdown and two field goals.
Third down conversions
Georgia was a good 4-of-6 on third-down conversions and 1-of-1 on its only fourth-down try. Conversely, UMass could convert only 4-of-13 third-down chances and was also successful in its one fourth-down try.
Run/pass attempts (total plays)
With Fields running for 100 yards and passing for 121, Fromm throwing for 106 yards and freshman James Cook running for 76 yards and two scores, the Bulldogs ran 62 plays for a staggering 701 yards of offense (426 rushing), second best in school history. UMass ran 54 plays for 390 yards total offense.