In a game where Georgia had four rushing touchdowns between two players and 251 rushing yards as a team, no one running back did much to stand out among the others. Instead, the position group matched one another in effort as the Bulldogs defeated Tennessee by 26 points.
“Today was a more ground and pound kind of game,” Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm said. “And that’s what we needed up front and from the backs.”
Three of those running backs tallied at least 50 rushing yards, with junior running back Elijah Holyfield leading the way with his 78. Sophomore D’Andre Swift had the fewest yards of the three, but he also scored two touchdowns. Junior Brian Herrien rushed for 30 yards on a fourth quarter drive in which Georgia was only up by 12 points.
No one runner dominated the game, but they each dominated an important category that translated to the team victory.
“We all did a great job,” Holyfield said. “The wide receivers did a great job blocking today and we ran the ball pretty well. When we had our shots, we hit them.”
The Bulldogs had 112 rushing yards at halftime as opposed to Tennessee’s 30, but they did not fully open up the running game until the second half. According to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, that isn’t something that should worry the Bulldogs but is instead simply the nature of the game.
“You go across the SEC, show me a team that goes out in the first quarter and runs it for five yards a down against an SEC opponent,” he said. “I just don’t think it happens. So I think all of us, including me, expect to go out and say, ‘Oh, we’re just going to run it down their throat. We’re Georgia, they’re Tennessee.’ It does not happen that way in this conference. It does not happen.”
By suffering through those short or negative runs early on, the Bulldogs opened up their passing game and eventually allowed longer runs to take place. It was a matter of patience, and it took a committed effort from the three backs.
Smart also praised Herrien specifically for his runs late in the fourth quarter that helped to put the game away. He said that he would have liked to leave the junior running back in the game, but instead went with the running back rotation that was already in place. Swift capped off the drive by scoring his second touchdown of the day.
“It’s good to kind of see our guys keep fighting, and it was good to see it finally pay off in the fourth quarter,” Fromm said. “To take those two to three-yard runs and make them six to eight to ten to twelve-yard runs, it was good to see from the offensive line and everybody else on the offense.”