ATHENS – Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he was “disappointed” by the Bulldogs’ performance in Arkansas, but not just by the players.
“We need to do a better job as staff, including me, to help our quarterbacks succeed.” Smart said in the wake of his team’s 37-10 win in Arkansas.
Redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis kicked off but was replaced by Stetson Bennett in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs found success by opening things up with the more experienced Bennett, but also because they weren̵
Smart and his staff have a lot of housekeeping after Georgia got called for 12 penalties.
“Start with penalties, start with guys busting assignments and guys missing signals, and not doing what they’re supposed to do, that’s 100 percent I attribute it to,” said Smart, asking about the sloppy first half of the Bulldogs in Arkansas. .
“So when you spin the ball, which we did when we had a good drive, when you hold people back and train in the backfield, you’re not going to be very successful. It’s just not going to happen.”
Here’s a look at a point of view on position votes:
Stetson Bennett was excellent completing 20 of 29 passes for 211 yards and 2 TDs along with a first down scramble and a 2-point conversion run. D’Wan Mathis showed his big arm and his ability to run, but was plagued by penalties that put him behind the chains on more than one occasion. Smart also indicated that the interception was not his fault.
Running back (C-)
Many wondered if there would be a drop off and got their answer in Arkansas, a firm “Yes” so far. James Cook tinkered with the opening drive of the second half and did little to break the tackle, stumbling only 26 yards on 7 carries. Zamir White had 13 carries for 71 yards, but was stopped in third and 2 and again in fourth and 1 on the Red Zone.
Freshman Jermaine Burton was guilty of a catch and running a wrong option path resulting in an interception, and Demetris Robertson had a false start. Kearis Jackson raised the bar with six team catches, and George Pickens was reliable with a third downhill hold and a 19-yard TD hold. The tight ends did some damage, with Darnell Washington making the longest play of the day (26 yards) and John FitzPatrick staggering in a 7-yard TC hold.
Offensive line (C)
There would be a drop-off on the line after losing two NFL offensive tackles in the first round and a guard who started out as an NFL rookie. Sure enough, Justin Shaffer and Xavier Truss got booed for holding back. It looked like the line did a decent job creating creases in the run game, but the backs weren’t in sync.
Defensive line (A-)
Smart regards his outside supporters as linemen, so Azeez Ojulari’s safety streak falls into that grouping. Nolan Smith has had six tackles and 1.5 sacks, a sign of progress. Adam Anderson and Jermaine Johnson also had two conflicts.
Nakobe Dean made the most of his early career by starting with a team 7 tackling and scoring a lot. Monty Rice had three tackles but a costly penalty. Quay Walker saw significant playing time and made three tackles. Nate McBride also made two stops.
Below average Arkansas scoring, but excellent outside of that. Richard LeCounte’s two interceptions made a statement and Eric Stokes enforced his first career interception, returning it to a TD to atone for a previous pass interference penalty. Lewis Cine had 6 tackles. Tyrque Stevenson had a stop, but also a horse collar penalty.
Special teams (A-)
The bettors and kickers have come in great. Jake Camarda had an all-American type of day with an average of 49.9 and 5 falls within the Hogs ’20. Walk-on kicker Jack Podlesny scored a pair of 38-yard field goals. Kenny McIntosh had two soccer returns for 91 yards and Jackson had two punt returns for 34 yards. We would have opted for even more yards had it not been for Matt Landers’ penalty. Zamir White had a blocked punt, but Quay Walker had a run in the penalty kicker.
I have to credit the staff for the first half adjustments as UGA beat Arkansas 32-3 in the second half, but the slow start and sloppy play was unusual. It was clear that Sam Pittman had tricks to take advantage of UGA trends.
Georgia’s depth continues to amaze, as does the staff’s ability to have so many players ready to move up in times of adversity. The fact that Stetson Bennett has been named speaks well for him and Todd Monken. The principles of the air raid were evident once Bennett entered. That said, Mathis’ running ability and arm strength are something future defense coordinators will remember. Three interceptions for the secondary are a good start. It’s a win and there don’t seem to be any serious injuries.
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