STATS THAT MATTER: Georgia – 42, Samford – 14

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STATS THAT MATTER: Georgia – 42, Samford – 14

Kirby Smart - UGA vs. Samford - Athens, GA, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017
Kirby Smart
– UGA vs. Samford –
Athens, GA, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017

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

It was a good and fun night for everyone in Sanford Stadium Saturday evening as Georgia, coming off the historic win in South Bend, I nd., avoided any sort of letdown and took care of business with a methodical 42-14 romp over FCS foe Samford.

Now, if the upcoming Saturday night back between the hedges can only be half that fun!

Welcome to the Southeastern Conference, 2017 Bulldogs. The next eight games will determine if Georgia will indeed live up to its preseason ranking — when Kirby Smart’s team was picked to capture the East Division crown — or fall by the wayside once again and come up short in its quest to make it to Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Dome.

And what an SEC opener it is that awaits the Bulldogs this coming weekend as the also unbeaten Mississippi State Dawgs venture to Athens after thoroughly taking apart 12th- ranked LSU this past Saturday in Starkville to the tune of 37-7. As one can see below, Georgia had its most impressive offensive performance of the young season in the win over Samford. Now, can these Stats That Matter translate into a winning performance against a State defense that held the Bayou Bengals to a lone TD?


The Bulldogs had plenty of these in the first half as Nick Chubb reeled off consecutive 20-yard runs, Jake Fromm hooked up with Riley Ridley on a 47-yard pass to set up a 32- yard touchdown run by Chubb and Fromm and Terry Godwin teamed up on a 51-yard touchdown strike. In the second half, Fromm connected with Godwin on another 32-yard gainer. The Georgia defense was again superb, allowing Samford to notch only one play over 20 yards, a 25-yard pass completion by Devlin Hodges.


Fromm lost the handle on the ball in the first quarter with Samford recovering at the Georgia 25 but J.R. Reed’s block of a Bulldog 37-yard field goal attempt negated Fromm’s bobble. And, oh boy, what a difference from the Notre Dame game in the penalty category. After being slapped 12 times for 127 yards against the Irish, Georgia did a complete about-face and was penalized just three times in this game, for a meager 25 yards.


Reed had the big block of Samford’s field goal attempt in the opening half, Georgia punted only twice with Cameron Nizialek averaging 46.5 yards on those two punts and Rodrigo Blankenship was perfect on kickoffs, going 7-for-7 on touchbacks. With Blankenship’s kickoffs and Nizialek’s punting, the Bulldogs’ coverage teams could have taken the night off.


Maybe a couple of whiffs on Samford receivers after they pulled in Hodges’ short passes but, once again, these Georgia defenders proved their mettle against opposing attacks, most of the time stopping the Samford backs in their tracks at the line of scrimmage … as evidenced by Samford’s meager 22 net rushing yards.


There was the lost fumble by Fromm and Samford also fumbled the ball away once, with senior nose tackle John Atkins recovering for Georgia at the Samford 26, which led to Chubb’s second touchdown of the night. Neither quarterback threw an interception.


For the third consecutive game, the Bulldogs were a perfect 4-of-4 scoring inside the red zone with all four scores being touchdowns. Samford was 2-of-3 scoring when moving inside the Georgia 20.


And as opposed to the Notre Dame game, Georgia was much, much better in this area against Samford, converting first downs on 9-of-15 third-down tries. Samford could go only 4-of-11 in this department.


With Chubb going for a season-high 131 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns and freshman D’Andre Swift adding 54 yards on nine carries and a score, the Bulldogs plowed for 284 rushing yards on 54 attempts. They tacked on 175 yards passing on 9-of- 15 completions with Fromm completing 8-of-13 for 165 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Samford, as mentioned, was limited to 22 yards rushing on 23 carries while passing for 227 yards on 35 attempts.


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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.