LEXINGTON, Ky. - Georgia’s offense fell flat when facing a top defense in the Bulldogs’ loss to LSU. In a top-10 matchup with Kentucky, the story couldn’t have been more different.
An explosive and diverse offensive attack fueled the Bulldogs to a 34-17 victory at Kroger Field, as Georgia proved that its offense could perform against one of the nation’s top defenses. The Wildcats entered Saturday’s game as the nation’s top scoring defense, with an average of 13 points allowed per game. Before Saturday, Kentucky had allowed no more than 20 points in a game this season.
Against the experienced Kentucky defense, Georgia’s offense had its best game of the season. The Bulldogs put up 444 total yards of offense, including a season-high 331 rushing yards on 50 carries. Both Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift had career-highs in rushing yards with 117 and 157 yards, respectively.
“A lot of credit goes to our offensive line today,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “To rush for 331 yards against anybody in the SEC is pretty tremendous, and our backs and tight ends did a big part of that, as well as the receivers blocking.”
Before Saturday, Kentucky had allowed no more than 164 rushing yards in a game, and Georgia’s previous season high in rushing yards was 284 against Austin Peay.
“I think people are still out there doubting us, so we just tried to silence the critics. We came out here and took care of business."
- D'Andre Swift, Georgia running back
Somewhat overshadowed by the running game was the receiving game. The Bulldogs put up 113 receiving yards, including one touchdown from tight end Isaac Nauta.
“Our running backs played an awesome game,” quarterback Jake Fromm said. “I think that's just a testament to the offensive line, a testament to our running backs, and definitely our receivers too—outside blocking, our tight ends as well. It's definitely a team effort, and you kind of see everyone pitching into it.”
After the Bulldogs’ loss to LSU, criticism of the Georgia offense was rampant, and understandably so. Against the best defense it had faced all season, Georgia had just 113 rushing yards and 209 receiving yards in the game, as Fromm was 16-of-34 for 209 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown in Death Valley. Georgia seemed to go away from the run game despite early success, and the Bulldog offense couldn’t get anything done late in the game.
The offense improved against Florida, finishing off strong to complete a 34-17 win. In Lexington, Kentucky, against one of the best defenses in the country, Georgia’s offensive comeback seemed to be complete.
“I thought [offensive coordinator Jim] Chaney had a good plan against what was a really good defense,” Smart said. “I mean, teams struggle to score against them, mainly because of their experience. They have veterans in the back end. They don't make a lot of mistakes, so you gotta grind out points. We grind them out.”
Coming into the matchup with an experienced Wildcat defense, Swift said the Bulldogs felt they had a point to prove.
“I think people are still out there doubting us, so we just tried to silence the critics,” Swift said. “We came out here and took care of business.”
But even after he and his fellow running backs racked up 331 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday, Swift said the Georgia offense still hasn’t reached its full potential.
“I still think we ain't scratched the surface of what we can really do,” Swift said. “This team has a tremendous amount of talent. The sky's the limit for us. We just need to keep trying to get better.”