BUTCHER: Game Analysis - Georgia vs Arkansas
Athens — The Dawgs finished off another dominating performance in Week 5 of the season, trouncing the No. 8 Arkansas, 37-0, in front of a packed-out Sanford Stadium.
UGA wound back the clock on offense, looking more like the 2017 team. The offense almost exclusively featured the run game as Arkansas couldn’t slow down UGA’s stable of running backs. Plus, the best defense in the country achieved its second straight shutout against an SEC opponent.
Here’s what I saw:
What I liked:
The Defense: UGA smothered KJ Jefferson and the Hogs’ offense. Arkansas came in the game averaging around 450 total yards of offense, but only managed 162 yards against the Dawgs. About 60 of those yards came in the final drive of the game. Senior defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt had an outstanding game, leading the team with six tackles and 1.5 sacks. Nakobe Dean wreaked havoc throughout the game, notching two tackles for loss. Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning was able to take away two of the biggest weapons on Arkansas’ offense: QB KJ Jefferson and receiver Treylon Burks. Burks managed three catches for 10 yards and Jefferson tallied 65 yards passing and five yards rushing.
The Running Backs: James Cook had a career-high in rushing attempts against the Razorbacks, and led the team with 87 yards on the ground. Zamir White added 68 yards of his own, including two touchdowns. He converted several short-yardage situations and ran hard the entire game. Sophomore running back Kendall Milton recorded his first career touchdown run and also saw a career-high in carries. Kenny McIntosh provided the longest reception of the game on a wheel route in the first quarter, putting the Dawgs in the red zone. Of course, the backs can’t perform if the offensive line doesn’t, so give credit to the big boys upfront. In particular, center Sedrick Van Pran-Granger had a notable game against a stingy Arkansas defense. Overall, it was a physically dominating performance by the linemen and the tailbacks. In fact, 56 percent of the Dawgs’ rushing yards came after contact.
The Fans: Despite the noon kickoff, the Georgia faithful responded to Kirby Smart’s challenge to be ‘elite’ against the Razorbacks. The first offensive drive for the Hogs resulted in back-to-back false starts and a sack. Reporter Holly Rowe noted that it was louder in Sanford at noon than it was in Happy Valley during the Auburn-Penn Statenight game. One visiting recruit mentioned that he couldn’t speak to the person sitting next to him because it was too loud. The fans were wild and made their presence felt on the opponent.
Jack Podlesny: ‘Hot Pod’ hopefully has returned to his former consistent success, nailing all three field-goal attempts in the game. He is now 7-9 on the season with a long of 46-yards.
The Blocked Punt: It only happens one or two times a year if you’re lucky. Back-up safety Dan Jackson blocked a punt out of the end zone, which was recovered by White for a touchdown. The special teams unit had not scored a touchdown yet and they were able to break through this game.
Smack Talk: Arkansas running back Treylon Smith laughed at a quote from UGA linebacker NolanSmith, who said that it doesn’t matter if the Dawgs are playing the New England Patriots, they are not letting anyone into the end zone. The UGA defense doesn’t need any bulletin board material to motivate them, but Smith gave it anyways. Oh, and Smith managed 4 yards on 3 carries...all the while the Razorbacksfailed to get score any points. Nakobe Dean responded on Twitter after the game, noting the Dawgs got the last laugh.
What I didn’t like:
Special Teams Penalties: Georgia suffered the same illegal formation penalty three times in the game, committing the final one after having time to address the issue at halftime.
First-half finish: Once again, Georgia had the ball with under three minutes to go in the first half. And, once again, Georgia was content to conservatively run the ball rather than extend the lead, despite having all of its timeouts. Coach Smart continues to preach being elite. It seems to be that elite teams don’t just give away two-plus minutes of the game clock when the opponent has a chance to score.
Stetson Bennett: I don’t think he had a bad game, and he ended up with a QBR of 87.3. ‘The Mailman’ only threw the ball 11 times in the game for 72 yards. He added 16 yards on the ground. I loved that Stetson kept the ball on a read-option to open up the game. He sent the message to the Hogs’ defense that they had to respect his ability to run the ball. He also hit McIntosh on a touch pass for 27 yards in the first drive. However, despite only having a few dropbacks, Bennett made some mental errors in the game. A couple of times he messed up the read on an option play, and he threw an interception-worthy pass in the red zone. Worse, he had an easy check-down available to him that seemed sure to get the first down, but he forced the pass into coverage.
Justin Robinson: The sophomore receiver had another drop, which is becoming a concerning pattern.
TE Brock Bowers didn’t record a catch for the first time this year. However, he did have a key block on a first touchdown run.
TE Darnell Washington returned to action, but on a limited basis. CB Tykee Smith, WR Arian Smith, Q JT Daniels and WR Dominick Blaylock did not play.
UGA continues to shift around its offensive line. Tackles Amarius Mims and Broderick Jones were worked into the game, as well as RG Xavier Truss. When Jones entered the game, LT Jamaree Salyer was moved to RG.
Freshman AD Mitchell continues to get reps at receiver. He reminds me of injured receiver George Pickens, in that Georgia primarily throws to him only on fades or go routes.
UGA was able to hit a few explosive plays, although none for a touchdown. The run game dominated, and while the offense wasn’t as sexy as some Dawg fans would like, it certainly was effective. The Dawgs scored on their first two drives, starting perfectly. Despite their waning energy at points in the game, managed to completely control the ball and the clock.
What more is there to say about another absolutely fantastic performance? I have watched a few phenomenal UGA defenses, but this one is special.
Special Teams: A-
This would have been another outstanding performance if the Dawgs had not managed to accrue several penalties on special teams. However, a blocked punt, three field goals and great punt and kickoff coverage made for a solid day.