ATHENS — Georgia won’t dominate every team the way it did against Oregon. The match against Samford proved it.
Georgia came out with a 33-0 victory over Samford on Saturday to move to 2-0 on the season. But the Bulldogs weren’t nearly as overwhelming as they were a week ago.
The Bulldogs kicked four field goals in the red zone. There were a series of near-touchdown grabs, only for them to end as incomplete. Some pressure, but no sacks until the fourth quarter.
However, the final score was never in doubt for Georgia and on a day when Notre Dame lost to Marshall, Alabama struggled against Texas and Texas A&M flopped against App State, Georgia still managed a victory.
Georgia agreed to shorten the fourth quarter to 12 minutes, really wanting to get to the end of this game and move on to next week. The Bulldogs will certainly need to play better than they did on Saturday, given that they won’t be facing an FCS foe.
Stetson Bennett and the Georgia Football Offense Just Good, Not Quite Great
He talks about the level of improvement Bennett has made, where he can throw for 300 yards on 34 pass attempts and objectively have less than a stellar game.
After doing everything right against Oregon, Bennett was a bit off his game all afternoon. He had a bad catch that put Georgia out of field goal range on third down. He could have had four touchdown passes instead of just the one he ended up with. Dillon Bell had the touchdown, the first of his career at Georgia.
Bennett also added another rushing touchdown, giving him two for the season.
The Bulldogs saw Adonai Mitchell leave the game with an ankle injury after first place. In his absence, Bennett distributed the ball to almost every pass receiver in Georgia as 15 Bulldogs caught a pass. Kenny McIntosh was once again a factor for Georgia as he caught five passes for 61 yards for the Bulldogs.
The biggest improvement for Georgia came in the running game, as Kendall Milton posted a career-best effort, rushing for 85 yards on 10 carries on Saturday. McIntosh struggled running between tackles, but added a rushing touchdown in the afternoon. However, Milton seemed much more effective for Georgia running between tackles.
Despite everything Georgia left on the field in terms of points, the Bulldogs punted only once to Bennett in the game, and that didn’t happen until Georgia led 30-0 in the third quarter. Every Bennett drive ended in points or Samford territory.
It was a good day for the Bulldogs. But clearly there was a path to a big day and the Bulldogs just didn’t execute well enough to get there.
The defense shines again
Samford had 52 points last year at Florida. The Bulldogs didn’t have the same kind of success against Georgia on Saturday. Samford finished the game with just 128 yards and didn’t cross midfield until the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs once again forced an early turnover, with Dan Jackson knocking the ball out of the hands of Samford quarterback Michael Hiers. Inside linebacker Xavian Sorey was there to pick up the fumble.
Georgia’s ringside defense has yet to register a sack, but the Bulldogs got close several times as Jalen Carter and Jamon Dumas-Johnson squashed Hiers with a pair of hits.
Malaki Starks nearly went down with an interception, as did David Daniel-Sisavanh. Georgia’s front-row defense also excelled at limiting big plays, with Samford’s longest play being just 11 yards against Georgia’s starting defense. Samford eventually had a 36-yard completion, but the drive was scoreless after Mykel Williams had his first career sack.
The Bulldogs will face better offenses at some point, starting next week with a South Carolina team that scored 30 points against Arkansas on Saturday. Through two weeks, Georgia has yet to give up a touchdown on the defensive side of the ball, maintaining the same level of excellence the Bulldogs established last season.
Red zone problems for Georgia football
Smart criticized his team earlier in the week after a poor practice Tuesday. That practice may have been a harbinger of what Georgia did in the red zone on Saturday. The Bulldogs had no problem moving into Samford territory. But the Bulldogs settled for three field goals in the first half and one in the second half.
While it was a positive that Jack Podlesny made four of his five kicks after the Bulldogs didn’t attempt a field goal last week, he’d like to see Georgia score touchdowns in those situations, especially against an outmatched opponent in Samford.
Bennett almost had touchdown passes to Bowers, Ladd McConkey and Darnell Washington, but all three passes were slightly deflected and the three pass receivers could only get one hand on the ball. Bell also narrowly missed a second touchdown reception, but couldn’t keep possession.
It was always going to be hard to keep track of what Georgia did last week from an offensive perspective. The Bulldogs still haven’t punted Bennett into the game, but the Bulldogs still have another team they can catch up with offensively.
A terrifying thought for a team that rushed for 479 yards and scored 33 points in the afternoon.
Georgia Football News and Samford Win Notes
A week after Mykel Williams made his first career start for the Bulldogs, another freshman got his first start when Malaki Starks lined up opposite Chris Smith. Starks took over for Dan Jackson, but the junior safety still had a significant impact for Georgia when he forced a fumble for the Bulldogs. Xavian Sorey recovered it.
Georgia once again started with Broderick Jones, Xavier Truss, Sedrick Van Pran, Tate Ratledge and Warren McClendon. The Bulldogs were liberal in getting players in and out of the lineup, with Amarius Mims once again taking plays at right tackle on Georgia’s third drive of the game.
In addition to Mitchell leaving the game with an ankle injury, the Bulldogs were without Nyland Green on Saturday. He had been dealing with a hamstring injury for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs will have their first road game of the season next Saturday when they visit South Carolina. The Gamecocks lost on the road to Arkansas on Saturday 44-30.