STATS THAT MATTER: Georgia 31 – Appalachian State 10

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STATS THAT MATTER: Georgia 31 – Appalachian State 10

One of Javon Wims (6) three receptions for 81 yards - Appalachian State vs. UGA - Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017
One of Javon Wims (6) three receptions for 81 yards
– Appalachian State vs. UGA –
Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017

A look back at what decided the game last week between Georgia and App State.

On an opening night when the Georgia Bull­dogs lost starting quarterback Jacob Eason on the third offensive series of the game with a knee injury, freshman backup quarterback Jake Fromm and the veteran Bulldog defense had to make plays.
And make plays, Fromm and the Georgia defensive unit did as the Bulldogs polished off the upstart Appalachian State Mountaineers 31-10 to set the stage for Saturday night’s huge confrontation with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind.
As one can readily see by the following Stats That Matter, Kirby Smart’s second Georgia football team did the necessary things that were needed to make their 2017 season debut a successful one.
Of course, as also can be seen, the Bulldogs did some things that could likely spell defeat in the upcoming schedule, when the caliber of opposition will be considerably tougher.


Georgia’s big gainers were actually the difference in this football game. Georgia got a 25-yard pass from Fromm to Javon Wims, to the Mountaineer 3-yard line, a 34-yard touchdown pass from Fromm to Wims and still another 22-yard hookup by the same duo. Sony Michel ripped off a stirring 44-yard run in the second quarter, Nick Chubb had jaunts of 23 and 28 yard runs in the second half and freshman tailback D’Andre Swift flashed his potential by reeling off a 24-yard run late in the ball game. For the Mountaineers, senior quarterback Taylor Lamb had all the big gainers, a 32-yard run and his late 20-yard touchdown gallop as well as pass completions of 23 and 27 yards.


The Bulldogs didn’t lose any fumbles but the two costly pass interceptions thrown by third-string quarterback Brice Ramsey late in the game led to all 10 of the Mountaineers’ points. There was a number of nagging 5-yard penalties that kept the offense from function­ing smoother, what with the Bulldogs being penalized eight times for 46 yards.


Certainly a big opening night for the Bull­dogs in this area. Showing great improvement over last season, the Bulldogs got a 43.8-yard punting average, on five kicks, from Colum­bia transfer punter Cameron Nizialek and sophomore place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship boomed the ball out of the end zone for five touchbacks, with the Mountaineers opting to return just one ball, which also went a couple of yards into the end zone. And as Kirby Smart noted in his post-game press conference, the Bulldogs’ kick coverage was excellent on opening night.


Certainly, nothing to complain about here as the Georgia defense was laying the wood the night long to the Appalachian State running backs and receivers, for the most part stopping Jalin Moore and the rest of the backs right at the line of scrimmage. Only thing that hurt the run defense was quarterback Lamb scrambling out of the pocket for sizable gains.


Like the special teams performance, the Bull­dogs also made great strides in this area, over the dismal showing they had in 2016. Georgia scored all four times it advanced into the Red Zone and allowed the Mountaineers to move inside the 20-yard line only once all night … though Appalachian State did get its late touchdown from Lamb on that one occasion.


The Bulldogs were only so-so in this depart­ment, converting first downs on only 5-of-14 third down attempts. But the Georgia defense did check the Mountaineers to a 7-of-18 showing on third down.


With Chubb rushing for 96 yards and Michel adding 87 yards, the Bulldogs ran the football 44 times for a total of 221 yards. And with Fromm completing 10-of-15 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown, Georgia put the ball up 20 times overall with 11 completions but had the two interceptions thrown by Ramsey in the final quarter. The Mountaineers rushed 32 times for 136 yards and passed the ball 32 times, completing 21 – mostly of the short variety – for 148 yards.


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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.