Returning to Florida, Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh is focused on winning

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Georgia senior running back Kenny McIntosh’s roots lie in Florida, but he’ll look to defeat the Gators in their yearly matchup in Jacksonville.

McIntosh has a 2-1 record against Florida in his career. In his first two matchups in 2019 and 2020, he did not play a snap. In last season’s edition of the heated SEC rivalry, he finally got a taste of his first Georgia-Florida snaps, when the Bulldogs defeated the Gators 34-7. He carried the ball three times for 7 yards.

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McIntosh waited his turn and earned his way into the starting lineup for his senior campaign. Now he has the chance to play a healthy number of snaps in front of family and friends back home.

Even so, there’s no extra anticipation before the game for McIntosh. He just wants to get another important victory in Georgia’s quest to win the SEC East for the second consecutive season.

“(It’s) not really excitement,” McIntosh said. “I want to go out there and do my job to help my team be victorious. … I’m just ready to go out there and get this win and help my team in any way that I can.”

McIntosh has been instrumental for the Bulldogs this season, leading them toward the top of the SEC in all rushing statistics.

“Explosiveness,” offensive lineman Broderick Jones said of McIntosh’s value to the team. “The way his game is played, it’s crazy. He can catch. He can run out the backfield. He can run you over. He can hit you with any type of move he wants.

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“It’s hard to stop that because he has so much in his tool bag that he can pull out. You never know what’s coming. It keeps you on your toes.”

Jones also said McIntosh makes it easier to block for him.

As McIntosh’s success in the run game this season has been predicated on the offensive line’s continued dominance at the line of scrimmage, the Bulldogs have a recipe for success.

“They have definitely been working hard at all of their skill sets,” McIntosh said of the offensive line. “Their pad level, moving people out of the way and getting to that second level. Making impact plays and helping us run.”

“That’s what Georgia prides itself on: running the ball,” Jones added. “No matter who we play, we’re always gonna try and run the ball and be as physical as possible.”

Although undefeated, Georgia has suffered from slow starts during some games this season. McIntosh and company hope to avoid that against Florida, as tough SEC opponents will take advantage of that. The Missouri scare is a prime example.

“We definitely gotta start off fast,” McIntosh said. “All SEC opponents are gonna be tough, and we just gotta go out there and execute.”

Through his three games against the Gators, McIntosh has adjusted to the intense rivalry atmosphere and plans to reference those experiences in hopes of a win.

“It’s a four-quarter game,” McIntosh said, referring to what he has learned from previous matchups with Florida. “We’re gonna go out there and give them our best shot, and they’re gonna give us their best shot.”

Having originated from Florida, McIntosh was familiar with the rivalry between the teams from his younger days. He recalls the rivalry spilling over into eighth grade all-star games, particularly one that he and former Georgia running back James Cook participated in as their first game as teammates.

“I always knew it was a rivalry,” McIntosh said. “It was just exciting, the way that game was, for us to be eighth graders in front of the Georgia crowd. (The Georgia-Florida rivalry) always was a big thing.”

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