ATHENS -- The No. 2-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (2-0) rolled to a 33-0 victory over FCS-visitor Samford (1-1) in the home opener at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. It was the Bulldogs’ first home game since they defeated Charleston Southern on Nov. 20.
Here’s how it broke down:
Beyond the Bulldogs getting off the bus, there wasn’t really one. But for the sake of designation, give it to Ladd McConkey for his 37-yard reception from Stetson Bennett on Georgia’s third offensive possession of the game. The play down the right sideline would get the Bulldogs to the Samford 28-yard line. Four consecutive running plays and a substitution penalty against the visitors would find Georgia facing second-and-2 at the Samford 3. A simple quarterback keeper around right end by Bennett got the Bulldogs into the end zone for the first time all night and effectively quashed any hope Samford had that this might turn into a competitive contest.
A week after the Bulldogs went 9-for-10 on third downs against Oregon, they were a much less robust 5-of-13 against little ol’ Samford. The offensive struggles carried over into the red zone, as well. Defined as the area from the opponent’s 20-yard line and in, Georgia scored on seven of its eight trips in that territory, but they managed touchdowns in the red zone only three of those times. In contrast, Georgia cashed in with TDs on seven consecutive forays in the red zone against Oregon.
Give it to Georgia’s defense, for their performance assured that the Bulldogs were going to win the game even with that one chip-shot field goal 7:49 into the game. No one defensive player stood out as a total of 26 players from the defense got onto the field. But starting inside linebacker Smael Mondon led the way in tackles with four overall, including 1.5 for losses totaling four yards. Dan Jackson forced a fumble, Zion Logue recovered one, freshman Mykel Williams recorded the season’s first sack and Javon Bullard, Jalen Carter, Bear Alexander, David Daniel-Sisavanh all had pass break-ups.
What we learned
Georgia’s offense is not infallible, and neither is its defense. It’s also evident that the Bulldogs’ young team might need some incentive to play with the energy – or “juice” – that coach Kirby Smart always is pining for. As a team, Georgia looked like it could run through a wall in the opener against Oregon and executed with surgeon-like precision. The Bulldogs simply weren’t as sharp against Samford. That wasn’t an issue against an opponent UGA has severely outmanned. It might be against SEC foes who are going to have more athletes of a similar ilk as Georgia.
They said it
“At the end of the day we didn’t execute in the red zone, and towards the end of the day we didn’t execute on third down. Is that execution, is that the opponent? Who knows. But we do have to get a little better. We had almost 500 yards of offense. We had a good day, but it wasn’t what we wanted it be.” – Bennett
“Execution is the right word on the offense. It just wasn’t crisp. If we cash in two of our red zones, we’re probably sitting here feeling pretty good about our offense, right?” – Smart
“I feel like we haven’t been tested. We’ll, of course, get that test on the road (at South Carolina) next week. And I just can’t wait for us to get tested so we can see how we respond.” – Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith
“There was a threat of some coming lightning, so we both just agreed to shorten the fourth quarter there and get the game to end before we had any delays.” – Samford coach Chris Hatcher on the decision to play a 12-minute fourth quarter.
Georgia: The Bulldogs (2-0) open SEC play Saturday on the road at noon Saturday against South Carolina in Columbia. The Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1 SEC) lost to Arkansas (2-0, 1-0) 44-30 on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.
Samford: The Birmingham-based Bulldogs (1-1) return to FCS play when they head to Cookeville, Tenn., to take on Tennessee Tech.
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