This Georgia football team continues to impress, Saturday’s 30-13 beatdown of undefeated, 11th-ranked Kentucky being no exception.
What continues to amaze is just how wide the gulf is between Georgia and every team they’ve played so far.
The lone exception, Clemson, carried a unique factor. Not only did Georgia have to beat the Tigers; they also had to knock down Clemson’s Dynasty Aura.
Teams that have spent time residing at an elite level have that built-in comfort zone which underlies all they do. They play with an inner voice letting them know that when crunch time rolls around, they’ll be the team making the big play that makes the other team crack.
Great teams have that swagger. They expect to win. They know they’ll win. That’s what helped carry Alabama past Georgia in recent years. It’s what enabled Bobby Cox’s Braves to win 14 straight division titles, probably a few more than they should have. The Patriots probably won a couple more Super Bowls than they should have, one in particular.
On the flip side, Clemson’s aura seemed to vanish with the loss to Georgia. The Tigers have been a very ordinary team since. And Georgia, well, the Dawgs seems to have a bit of a swagger about them.
Kentucky became the latest ranked opponent to lose to the Georgia juggernaut. Only a last-second score following an eyebrow -raising timeout by coach Bob Stoops made the final score look somewhat reasonable.
Actually, the game was terribly one-sided. Kentucky held the ball for almost 38 minutes and gained 244 yards in 93 plays. The final 75 yards came on that final, 11-minute drive after Georgia had pushed the score to 30-7 and sent many patrons scurrying to their post-game gatherings.
In only 22 minutes of possession, Georgia ran 41 plays and amassed 416 total yards.
“Where can I start, other than that is a very good football team,” Coach Stoops told Georgiadogs.com. “Let me give them the respect they deserve. Kirby does one hell of a job. That is a complete football team … they do things the way you’re supposed to.”
It took Georgia a little while to get rolling. After punting twice, Georgia uncorked touchdown drives on its next two possessions. After allowing Kentucky a pair of first downs on its initial possession, the Dawgs then forced three-and-outs on the next three.
In a crazy play near the end of the half, Georgia sacked QB Will Levis, picked up his fumble, and returned it into Georgia territory. After a lengthy review [aren’t they all?], the play was ruled an incomplete pass. Given new life, Kentucky went in for a score.
Georgia had dominated play, but the score was only 14-7 at the half. Coach Smart wasn’t worried.
“At halftime, nobody was panicked, nobody was nervous,” Smart told Georgiadogs.com. “It’s a physical football game, and we’re going to stay aggressive, keep coming at them.”
Georgia began the second half with a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, held Kentucky to a three-and-out, and drove 63 yards for a field goal. Halfway through the third quarter, Georgia led, 24-7, and no one thought Kentucky had any chance of putting 24 points on the board before Thanksgiving. But Georgia’s defense added another three-and-out for good measure.
How good is this defense?
So good that when they surrender a first down, you actually hear rumblings through the stadium. Georgia held Kentucky to six yards per pass completion. That’s an incredible stat. But here’s what it tells you: Georgia’s defense is so good other teams can’t run their offense.
Just a week ago, Kentucky ran the ball 45 times for 330 yards against LSU. Levis completed 14 of 17 passes for 145 yards — 10 yards per completion.
Against Georgia, Kentucky ran the ball 27 times for 51 yards. The ‘Cats went to short, misdirection passes, and rarely threw the ball even 20 yards downfield. Against the Georgia defense, Kentucky could not do what it wanted to do.
On Sunday, ESPN staff writer David Hale listed Georgia’s massive nose tackle, Jordan Davis, second on his Heisman Five watchlist. Since placing a defensive lineman on a Heisman list is so outrageous, Hale offered a few notes:
Prior to Saturday, when Davis was on the field, opponents averaged 2.8 yards per rush and 2.3 yards per dropback. Kentucky averaged 1.9 on the ground. The ‘Cats longest run was nine yards. On the season with Davis on the field, Georgia has allowed just two passes of 20 yards or more, and two runs of 10 yards or more.
And yet, this team remains focused.
“Yeah, we are proud of what we have done. It would be silly not to be,” QB Stetson Bennett told Georgiadogs.com. “We play good football.
“That does not mean we do not have each and every opportunity to get better at each and every position. The focus going into this week, I am sure it will be to get healthy and get better at your individual assignment.”
Imagine this team getting better …