Last time in this space, as you recall, we marveled at the passing of Georgia’s antiquated offense into a sleek, modern scheme.
Little did I suspect that would be the first part of a two-piece column. But here we are.
Georgia destroyed South Carolina, 45-16, on Saturday night with an old-fashioned dose of Georgia hardball.
The team that amassed 8 yards rushing against Mississippi State ran up 208 against Carolina. In the first half. Clearly the coaches dusted off and shared a few old reliable points of emphasis during the Dawgs’ preparation for the Gamecocks.
After JT Daniels’ 401-yard, four-touchdown debut, Bulldog Nation was agog with anticipation to see what numbers he might put up against a depleted Gamecock defense.
Instead, the Nation saw 43 rushing attempts for 351 yards, a healthy average of more than 8 yards per rush. A modest improvement over last week’s average of 1 foot per rush.
Daniels? He had a quiet night, completing 10 of 16 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. In short, he managed the game. That’s what Georgia quarterbacks do. Sigh.
Welcome back to the future.
Georgia’s return to normalcy was signaled on its very first series of downs. Zamir White took the expected handoff on first down and plowed ahead for 4 yards. Then Daniels hit Jermaine Burton on a quick out for 5.
On third-and-one, Georgia lined up quickly in the all-too-familiar tight formation, and the expected run ensued. But it wasn’t stuffed; White powered ahead for 6 yards. That enabled Daniels to hit tight end Tre’ McKitty straight up the seam on the next snap, and the big man motored to the Carolina 10. Two plays later, McKitty dove just inside the pylon for Georgia’s first score.
That drive illustrated just how effective Todd Monken’s offense can be with the right man at the controls. Able to mix successful runs with passes, Georgia’s offense tore through the Carolina defense like a hot knife through soft butter.
Georgia’s second possession? More of the same. After Georgia’s defense forced a three-and-out, Georgia rolled 82 yards in nine plays. The drive mixed one sack, two passes to George Pickens for 23 yards, and six runs for 65 yards. Highlights included another third-and-one conversion by White, and a 44-yard sprint by James Cook.
Carolina had run three plays, and trailed, 14-0.
After forcing another three-and-out, Georgia really dialed back the clock. The Dawgs sped 78 yards in only five plays—all on the ground.
Carolina had run six plays, and trailed, 21-0.
After that, the outcome was never seriously in doubt, but Georgia still had one final tour de force. Carolina scored its final touchdown with 9:27 remaining in the game. The Gamecocks never got the ball back.
Breaking out another back, Daijun Edwards, Georgia ran the ball 13 straight times, all the way to the Carolina 1-yard line. That’s when Kirby Smart finally called off his Dawgs.
In his post-game remarks, Smart said Georgia didn’t do anything special during the week. “Let’s be honest, a lot of it has a lot to do with the other team, and what they do. So, we didn’t call a lot of different runs. We didn’t go out and reinvent the wheel to run the ball.
“They are a very beat-up football team, and they are probably just not as stout as Mississippi State is up front. With that said, our guys came out from the very beginning. And they knew that South Carolina had some guys out, and they didn’t play down to that level. They played physical, and they knocked people off the ball.”
It’s a simple game, isn’t it?
Cook led Georgia with 104 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a break-out performance. “We got after it in the passing game [last week] and they probably thought we were just going to pass it today,” Cook said after the game. “Then our offensive line came with that physicality today, and our receivers blocked on the perimeter, and we got the job done.”
And what of Daniels, who went from resembling Baker Mayfield one week to Buck Belue the next? “He did a really good job tonight,” said Smart. “We didn’t ask him to do a lot. He understands what we’re trying to do. And he did a good job handling the offense.”
So ends Part Two of our saga. It appears that reports of the demise of old-style Georgia offense are premature.