Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett had his best statistical performance of the season in the Bulldogs’ 44-21 win over Tennessee. Bennett completed 16 of 27 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, while also utilizing his legs for his first rushing touchdown this season.
The offensive onslaught, however, was not solely because of Bennett’s solid play, and he benefited from production by multiple receivers and running backs throughout the game.
Georgia had nine players catch a pass against Tennessee and 12 receive at least one target. Five players had two or more receptions, and the Bulldogs even found freshman defensive end Jalen Carter for a receiving touchdown to provide a 16-point lead with over 10 minutes remaining in the game.
“You take what the defense gives you,” said head coach Kirby Smart during a virtual postgame press conference. “They played a lot of split safety coverages and we see a lot of split safety coverages, especially with George out there.”
Pickens did not draw his usual workload in the Georgia win. He warranted only three targets and brought in two for 14 yards. Georgia wore out the Tennessee defense with a consistent rushing attack with six different rushers, then found its receivers running free.
“We are going to have to run the ball and then we have to hit some things down the middle,” Smart said. “I thought we were able to do some of that today.”
Kearis Jackson continued building the resume of his breakout season with a four reception, 91-yard game. Jackson hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass — the first touchdown of his Georgia career — from Bennett on third-and-7 with 35 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“That first touchdown meant everything to me,” Jackson said in a virtual postgame press conference.
The game of firsts continued for the Bulldogs’ with tight end Tre' McKitty catching his inaugural pass in a Georgia uniform. McKitty ended the game as Georgia’s second-leading receiver behind Jackson, with two receptions for 47 yards.
Bennett said it is easy to throw to Jackson because he will catch it, but against the Volunteers, the Georgia quarterback looked beyond his favorite targets.
“I don’t go looking for [Jackson], I don’t go looking for anybody just because I like to use everybody,” Bennett said. “He’s open, he catches my eye and I trust him.”
Next to Jackson, sophomore running back Kenny McIntosh saw the most targets in the passing game with four. McIntosh hauled in two of those targets for 36 yards, and Georgia’s second-longest pass play of the game.
Running backs Daijun Edwards and Zamir White were also targeted in the passing game, with Edwards catching his for 3 yards. As the Bulldogs spread the ball around, freshman receiver Jermaine Burton received a rushing attempt that went for 43 yards, on top of his two receptions for 26 yards.
Jackson said a lot of what helps the Georgia receivers is going against their own defense in practice. Working against one of the best defenses in the SEC each week afforded Bennett nine receivers that found openings in the Tennessee defensive unit.
“We know what we have on our offense and we know what type of weapons we have,” Jackson said. “We just need to go out there and execute. So far, we are doing a great job of executing.”