Georgia’s running backs plan to match Kentucky’s physicality Saturday

ATHENS -- A smashmouth game is in store for fans on Saturday, as Georgia and Kentucky both play hard-nosed brands of football.

Georgia boasts one of the best run offenses in the nation, as the Bulldogs lead the country in rushing touchdowns (32).

Kentucky features the No. 5 run defense in the SEC this season, having held its opponents to 135 rushing yards per game.

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Still, Georgia doesn’t plan to shy away from the challenge in Lexington.

Georgia did shy away from the run, relatively, in Saturday’s 45-19 win over Mississippi State. The Bulldogs ran the ball 33 times, the third-lowest number of the season. Quarterback Stetson Bennett attempted 37 passes, the third-highest total of the season.

But, Kentucky’s defense is very similar to Georgia’s, according to running back Kenny McIntosh and center Sedrick Van Pran, so the Bulldogs are likely to utilize that to their advantage when they travel to Lexington on Saturday.

“It’s really a blessing for us to be able to go against (a similar defense) every day,” McIntosh said. “They can plug holes, but our linebackers do the same thing. So, we’re used to it. We practiced that stuff all spring and summer. So, it ain’t gonna be anything different or new that we didn’t see already. The defensive coaches and the offensive coaches definitely put us in the right position.”

Junior running back Kendall Milton, who missed a couple of weeks due to a groin injury in October, could be a key Saturday. He played in the past two games against Tennessee and Mississippi State, but he hasn’t returned to pre-injury form yet.

He averaged over 67 yards per game prior to his injury. Since returning, he has only rushed for 49 yards on eight carries across two games.

He broke away for a 34-yard touchdown against Mississippi State, showing a glimpse of getting back into the speed of things.

“In the running-back room, it definitely does a lot,” McIntosh said, referring to what Milton’s return means to the team. “He’s a physical runner. He’s gonna get downhill. He’s gonna be the one to get those tough yards when we need them.”

Explore‘Tough, physical’ battle awaits No. 1 Georgia vs. Kentucky

However, with Milton still not being 100%, the Bulldogs may look to use their depth as an advantage, looking to another power back to step up as well.

Fourth-string back Branson Robinson hasn’t gotten the same production as he did towards the middle of the season when Milton went down. But, there is a chance that offensive coordinator Todd Monken elects to utilize Robinson’s abilities as a power back to counteract Kentucky’s physicality.

“He’s a hard physical runner,” McIntosh said of Robinson. “He always gonna be like that. Everything he does is going to be physical. So, just seeing him go from always being on the ground or making mistakes (has been good). The game is slowing down for him. He’s getting to see a lot of different defenses.”

No matter what offensive focus they bring into the game, though, the Bulldogs will look to compete and get a big division win on the road.

“The biggest thing for me is just the competitive factor,” Van Pran said. “All eyes against you, everybody is really loud with the ‘rah-rah’ and all this. You get everybody’s best shots, so for me, it’s being able to handle that and still come out on top.”