Football Georgia: Behind the defense, the 2021 title is to lose for the Bulldogs

ATHENS, Georgia – Seven sweltering Saturdays in the season is Georgia’s national championship to lose.

The # 1 Bulldogs are the better team. The deepest team. The most physical team. The team with the most experienced talent, having stacked monster recruiting classes on top of each other for years. The most buttoned up team, in terms of respect for missions. And apparently the hungrier team, showing a focus and intensity that didn’t waver even a little while riding relentlessly to a 7-0 record.

This is the year, Georgia. This elusive natty is there on a red and black set for you. You’ve only been waiting for this for 41 years, going back to when Herschel Walker was a running back and not a politician, now here he is.

There are some very imperfect teams all over the map, but not between the hurdles. Only one of Georgia’s seven games was decided by a single score, and it was the season opener against Clemson. Game. All other results have been unbalanced and are evident for most of the second half.

This Saturday game, against undefeated Kentucky, was more competitive than most Georgians. The ‘Dogs only led by one halftime touchdown, although they pushed the lead to 14 in the first practice of the third quarter and were never challenged afterwards. A Wildcats touchdown in the dying seconds made it 30-13. This TD only mattered to those who had bet on either side of a gap that floated in the 1920s, but the proud Georgia defense was still angry about giving up two touchdowns, one peak of the season.

“That kind of hurt me,” said linebacker Nakobe Dean, who referred to the unit’s motto: No one in our end zone.

Develop this theme: Person at their level, nationwide.

Here’s the thing: No.11 Kentucky played well. The Wildcats did not return the ball. They only had 15 penalty yards. They converted nine of 19 third tries. Quarterback Will Levis was good. After some initial conservatism, the game plan was quite creative. Arrived in a hostile atmosphere, Kentucky showed up and did not back down.

And the Wildcats still had no real chance of winning. That tells you how far Georgia is from Kentucky, and the rest of the Eastern Division from the Southeastern Conference, and frankly the rest of the nation. Maybe Alabama or Ohio State or Cincinnati improve enough over the season to close the gap, but for now, the gap is significant.

Georgia are deep enough to be No.1 with substitute Stetson Bennett IV starting the majority of games and throwing the most assists of anyone on the roster. Starter JT Daniels has only played three games due to injury, and that hasn’t slowed the Bulldogs down at all. Bennett burned Kentucky’s strong defense for 250 yards and three touchdowns without interceptions – his third game of the season with over 200 passing yards and several touchdowns on less than 15 completed passes.

When asked what the former replacement would say to someone who claimed the quarterback is Georgia’s weakest link, Bennett responded with the wisdom of a guy who’s been around long enough. college football to play the role of Baker Mayfield for the Georgia recruiting squad previously. the Rose Bowl in the 2017 college football playoffs. “If someone says that, there’s probably nothing that could convince them otherwise,” Bennett said. “So get away. “

The most important thing for Bennett, or Daniels, or anyone playing QB on this team, is to let the defense dominate and do nothing to ruin it. It is so good. Best unit in the country on either side of the ball and potentially one of the best defenses we’ve seen in a while.

“They are long, athletic, strong and they prepare well,” said Lévis. “They’re the country’s No.1 team for a reason.” An offense that had produced 29 scrimmages of 20 yards or more in its first six games produced none on Saturday.

Kentucky’s top playmakers are receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. Robinson recorded a career-high 12 receptions for 39 yards at the season low. He couldn’t outrun the Bulldogs, and he couldn’t miss them. Rodriguez, the nation’s No. 6 rusher, had seven carries for seven yards. Running between tackles was so unsuccessful that the Wildcats eventually gave up trying.

The reason it’s virtually impossible to dent the ‘Dogs with a powerful running game is the gigantic presence of tackle Jordan Davis in the middle. He is 6 feet 6 inches and 340 pounds – “looks like Godzilla,” according to head trainer Kirby Smart. “It has an impact. He is the stationary object. “

He has a lot of company. Davis’ replacement and sometimes his sidekick when they’re on the court together, 310-pound Jalen Carter, is a problem of almost equal magnitude. Then there’s 315-pound Devonte Wyatt, also capable of crumpling an offensive line. Two of Georgia’s giant linemen rushed to block a Kentucky field goal in the third quarter, with Carter being credited. Wyatt blocked an extra point at the end of the game. Carter and Wyatt also combined for 3 1/2 tackles for a loss.

Georgia's Jalen Carter sacks Kentucky QB Will Levis

When an offensive line can’t be pushed forward for just any type of running game, everything else becomes much more difficult. And this is where the rest of the Georgian defense advances. The ‘Dogs have future pros at all levels of this unit. They run, they hit, they cover, they drop 300-pound blockers like they’re little kids.

And they’re eager to learn, according to Smart. He said the defensive unit craves ‘nuggets’ from the coaching staff throughout the week leading up to a game – bits of information on opponent’s tendencies, stats, whatever. which will give them an advantage on Saturday. “They are kissing these nuggets,” said Smart.

Georgia can now embrace their annual opening date ahead of the Cocktail Party game against Florida on October 30. It’s a rivalry game and things can happen in rivalries, but the 4-3 Gators seem largely overwhelmed right now.

After that comes a light November: Missouri, Tennessee, Charleston Southern, Georgia Tech. It’s entirely likely that Georgia’s first serious challenge since that first Clemson game won’t happen until the SEC Championship game in December.

If Alabama is the opponent, it would certainly spike Bulldog Nation’s blood pressure – the Crimson Tide inflicted deep wounds under Nick Saban. But as it is, Georgia is simply better than Bama. It would be a game dogs could and should expect to win.

Really, they should expect to win them all. This is the year, the path is clear. It’s the Georgia championship to lose.

More college football coverage:

• Meet Caleb Williams: “He Saves The Day”
• Assessment of the best rivalries in college football
• Purdue shuts down Iowa’s No.2 in Kinnick

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