NEW ORLEANS — No. 5 Georgia leads No. 7 Baylor 19-0 in its 11th Sugar Bowl appearance and second in a row. Here are some takeaways from The Red & Black:
Absences create slow start on offense
Georgia’s roster almost felt empty as over 15 players including J.R. Reed, Andrew Thomas and Ben Cleveland sat out in tonight’s Sugar Bowl. The missing names were noticed especially on offense as the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball for a majority of the first quarter, but the group found a rhythm in the second.
Jake Fromm and the offense finally got the crowd roaring after a flea flicker ball thrown deep to George Pickens for a gain of 46 yards. The play set Georgia up at the Baylor 14-yard line, but the unit was forced to settle for a field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship for the first score of the game.
Georgia’s offense began to pour on the points in the second quarter. Its first touchdown came on a 27-yard pass to the end zone where Fromm found Pickens on the left edge. The touchdown was followed by a second field goal from Blankenship, this one from 31 yards out.
Matt Landers pulled in his first touchdown of the season with 1:51 left on the clock in the second quarter for the last score of the half. A failed two-point conversion attempt kept the score at 19-0.
New faces lined up behind Fromm
D’Andre Swift, who has yet to announce his NFL draft decision for the coming year, did not start at running back. Instead, redshirt freshman Zamir White started behind Fromm on the first drive. White carried 12 times for 58 yards in the first half.
James Cook came into the game for the second drive but did not have much impact during the half, rushing for just 12 yards. Freshman Kenny McIntosh even found himself some time at tailback early on after Cook was sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
Swift entered the game at the end of the first quarter but had only one carry.
Defense holds strong
Georgia’s defense kept Baylor scoreless for the half even without Reed on the field.
Richard LeCounte came down with an interception after a tipped pass from Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer. This came in the first quarter and prevented a drive marching into Georgia territory. The Bulldog offense was unable to convert the turnover into points after a wild snap from Trey Hill for a loss of 19 yards.
Tae Crowder nearly had a pick of his own after another tipped pass with just over four minutes left in the first quarter. The defense hushed Brewer and the Baylor offense, holding it to a total of 97 yards in the half.