A look back at what decided the game between Georgia and Tennessee
As good as the Georgia faithful feel about being 3-0 at this point in the season and defeating Tennessee for a fourth straight time, there is nobody more satisfied than Kirby Smart after Saturday’s game. For one, people often underestimate just how hard it is to line up each week in the SEC and win. Regardless of records, the Southeastern Conference is loaded with talented football players and great coaches and each game takes a ton of preparation and execution to come out with a W.
Secondly, the fashion in which Georgia won is Kirby Smart’s dream. There were plenty of mistakes to correct and to use to motivate his team and keep them tethered to reality. Yet, it was also a dominating performance in many ways, especially by the Georgia defense. Also, Smart even offered up a compliment on the conditioning of his team after the game. UGA was able to finish and that is the mark of a mature team. However, that is enough about the intangibles and the eye test, let’s break down the stats that tell the tale of the big win over Big Orange.
It is not up for debate. Through three games of the 2020 college football season, the University of Georgia has the most dominant run defense in the country. Period. Smart and Lanning’s defensive came into this contest versus the streaking Tennessee Volunteers averaging allowing a nation’s best 58 rushing yards per game. That mark will drop tremendously after the Dawgs made the Vols rushing attack go backwards! -1 yards rushing is a ridiculous feat and the fact that Georgia can do this without having to commit extra hats to the box it truly special.
No, this is not about Stetson Bennett IV directly. The Georgia signal caller does have a lot to do with this important statistic though. The Dawgs won the time of possession battle by 13 minutes over the Volunteers. Being able to sustain drives will be an absolute must in Tuscaloosa on Saturday and the ability of Georgia to control the tempo and move the chains helped Georgia’s conditioning, depth, and talent advantage playout against UT.
Not only did Georgia’s front seven utterly shutdown any resemblance of a running game for Tennessee, but they also sacked Jarrett Guarantano five times. The highly regarded offensive line for Tennessee was ravaged by the waves of pressure brought by the Dawg defenders. Azeez Ojulari, Monty Rice, Adam Anderson, Tyson Campbell. You name it and they were in Tennessee’s backfield. Not being able to get home and bring the quarterback down has been an issue for the Dawgs in the past, but this output of sacks is encouraging as Georgia heads into a game versus the least mobile quarterback they’ll have seen all season in Mac Jones.
Freshman running back Kendall Milton averaged seven yards per carry for the Dawgs in his third college football game. Milton led the Bulldogs with 56 yards on 8 carries and was very impressive in doing so. The violent, explosive running style of Milton garnered attention in the ladder portion of the Auburn game, and the injury of James Cook provided an opportunity for Milton to showcase the talent that had him ranked by many as the top running back in the class of 2020. Given the fact that Ole Miss ran the ball at will on Alabama on Saturday, it would not be surprising to see Milton earn even more touches this week provided he has a good week of practice.
Stetson Bennett IV targeted 12 different receivers once again in the contest versus Tennessee. Being able to spread the ball around and establish several receivers and tight end as legitimate targets in the Georgia offense is welcome sign and something that Kirby Smart specifically complemented Bennett IV on in his postgame remarks. In years past, it’s seemed like a lack of diversity in Georgia’s passing game hampered the opportunity for growth and allowed defenses to hone in on specific components of the Dawg’s offense, but with the mailman delivering the ball to multiple receivers regularly, Georgia’s offense is fun to watch.