Knoxville, TN. — Georgia running back James Cook had himself a day against Tennessee en route to a 41-17 victory.
The senior led the No. 1 Bulldogs in rushing, totaling 104 yards on 10 attempts with two touchdowns. He also hauled in three receptions for 43 yards and a score. It was an all-around, versatile day for Cook, who has had three games at Georgia where he’s scored a rushing and receiving touchdown, respectively.
"James, man, you talk about a guy who wills himself to win,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said in his postgame press conference. “I mean this guy wants to win badly. He doesn't care what it takes. He'll do anything you ask. He went out and played on a punt team that he hasn't played on in a couple of weeks. We didn't have enough out there, and he went out there and did that.”
Cook carried the load for the Bulldogs against the Volunteers. He averaged a season-high 10.4 yards per attempt with a long rush of 39 yards. Cook also managed to average 14.3 yards a reception. He helped the Georgia offense produce several explosive plays.
“The guy makes plays, and he's getting better as the season progresses,” Smart said. “I'm really proud of what James has done for James, but I'm even more proud of what James has done for this team. Because when James speaks, he carries a lot of weight with the players. They respect James."
Cook has been one of the main leaders in the locker room since the start of last season. He and fellow senior running back Zamir White have always had to share a load of the carries with others, but never complain. However, Cook finally tied a career-high in attempts against Tennessee and showed why he deserves more because of his production.
“I know what kind of player he is, both in the rushing game and in the receiving game,” Georgia inside linebacker Nakobe Dean said. “I know how much of a mismatch he can be and how versatile he can be. For him to have that sort of game was not surprising to me.”
Cook has a career-high 487 rushing yards through Georgia’s first 10 games this season. He’s averaging 6.4 yards per attempt and has racked up six touchdowns during his senior campaign. Cook has also hauled in 16 receptions for 111 yards and three touchdowns this season.
“He’s been due for that kind of game,” Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said. “He’s a great player, comes in, leads this team, works hard. He’s explosive and he knows what to do. He’s got a knack for finding space. He was due for this. I loved seeing him do it.”
I was shocked when I read that Cook had only 111 yards receiving. I was about to chastise the author until I looked it up. C'mon Kirby. This guy will be a great receiver out of the backfield in the NFL and we should be using him a lot more. I understand that we haven't necessarily needed more from him given our defense but, given our great receivers, normally he is going to be covered by a linebacker and we saw how that worked out Saturday.