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Ashway: This Georgia football team is seriously good
Denton Ashway
DENTON ASHWAY

Things are serious now.

We’re two months into the college football season, and this Georgia football team is seriously good.

By unanimous acclaim, they’re the best team in the country. A defense the likes of which no one expects to see during this era of offensive domination.

And what’s it all worth?

Not a thing. Other than the value the Dawgs derive from such accolades. That being, they know they’re good, and so does everyone else. They know they have a very real opportunity to win it all. Every game they play now is for the national championship.

And at this point, you’d have to say they should win it all. It’s that huge piece of unfinished business left to attend to, as massive defensive lineman Jordan Davis declared upon deciding to return for this season.

Georgia’s 34-7 destruction of Florida Saturday in Jacksonville emphasized just how good this team can be. Against an archrival, during a game in which the Georgia offense didn’t look particularly crisp, the game was still no contest.

This Georgia team is so good that opponents cannot let up for a minute — or 2:16, as was the case for Florida. Given any opening, the Dawgs go right for the jugular and squeeze the life out of their foe.

With Georgia’s offense only producing a field goal over the game’s first 27 minutes, the defense took matters into its own hands. Linebacker Nolan Smith stripped the ball from Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson at the Florida 11-yard-line. It took James Cook a single play to dart across the goal line. 10-0.

Two plays later, a Richardson pass was deflected by Travon Walker, with the ubiquitous Smith intercepting. On the very next play, Stetson Bennett threw a perfect pass, over Kearis Jackson’s shoulder and into his hands in the left edge of the end zone. 17-0.

Two plays later, Richardson passed into the right flat for Malik Davis. Nakobe Dean jumped the route, intercepted, and crossed the goal line 50 yards later with seven seconds left in the first half. 24-0.

“That changed the game,” coach Kirby Smart said in his postgame presser. “That momentum right before the half was just huge. It is what our guys do. They are havoc guys that cause problems, frustrate the quarterback, and try to find different ways to affect the quarterback. Those turnovers are so big.”

A year after the Gators hung 44 points and 571 yards on Georgia’s defense, Saturday’s game was personal for Smith and his mates.

“Anyone could have done it,” Smith told Georgiadogs.com of his pair of turnovers. “The Nakobe pick-six was a momentum swing. When momentum goes the other way, guys feed off of each other.

“We always talk about connection. You feel it, and if you don’t see it on the sideline, you would be absolutely absurd. I’m cheering the offense when they’re up, and they are cheering us. It’s all about connection and team camaraderie. Being together as one. We say, ‘One band, one sound.’ I was saying that before the game.”

As if to underscore those comments, Smith went out of his way to praise Bennett.

“One thing about Stetson, he just works. He doesn’t listen to the noise. He’s a blue-collar guy. When you talk about trusting a guy, I trust him. He goes out there and works, puts his best foot forward every day. Even though it may not look pretty to y’all, he’s getting the job done.”

Bennett returned the favor.

“We were struggling,” he told Georgiadogs.com. “We really didn’t play that great of a game offensively the whole time. That starts with me. I didn’t play my best game at all. They came out, got us turnovers, and we capitalized on those turnovers. That’s what we had to do. Nakobe getting that pick-six at the end was the icing on the cake.”

Those quotes capture the essence of this Georgia squad. They are a team in every sense of the word, everyone pulling together.

Even Florida coach Dan Mullen noticed.

“They play really good team football, and you have to give them a lot of credit,” Mullen said at his postgame presser.

Saturday night ended with Georgia clinching the SEC East title and a spot in the SEC championship game on Dec. 4.

In between are contests with Missouri, Tennessee, Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech. Their combined record: 14-17.

Don’t expect any letdown from this team.

Their business isn’t finished.